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Scientists Transformed Water into Shiny, Gold Metal to Conduct Electricity

Electrons from sodium and potassium droplets transformed water into the metal to conduct electricity.

It’s a known fact that unfiltered water allows the flow of current, meaning it can easily let negatively charged electrons flow between its molecules. This is because of the presence of salt in unfiltered water. On the contrary, purified water contains only water molecules, i.e., H2O, whose outermost electrons stay bound to their allocated atoms. Thus, they are unable to flow easily through the water.

Can Water be Transformed into a Metal? 

Theoretically, the water molecules and their valence shells squish together when enough pressure is applied to pure water. This results in the overlapping of the outermost ring of electrons that surround each atom. That lets the electrons flow freely between every molecule and turns the water into a metal. 

However, you can only turn water into a metallic state with 15 million atmospheres of pressure, i.e., around 220 million psi. Therefore, geophysicists say that this method of turning water into a metal can only be achieved in the cores of enormous planets such as Neptune, Jupiter, and Uranus.  

Jungwirth’s Experiment

But Jungwirth and his colleagues didn’t give up and tried hard to find other methods of turning water into metal without making such extreme pressures. They then tried using alkali metals, consisting of elements such as sodium and potassium and having only a single electron in their valence shell. To form a chemical bond, alkali metals donate this electron to other atoms as alkali metals become more stable due to the loss of that electron.

In actuality, alkali metals explode when introduced to water. Jungwirth and his fellows were aware of this dramatic reaction. They were trying to prevent this explosion and get electrons from alkali metals and use them to turn water into a metal. 

Therefore, they filled a syringe with sodium and potassium in their new experiment and put it inside a vacuum chamber. They took out some droplets of the metal, which are liquid at room temperature, and exposed those droplets to a small amount of water vapor. The water on the metal droplets formed a 0.000003-inch (0.1 micrometer) film on the surface, and the electrons from the metals suddenly started rushing into the water. 

Jungwirth said that electrons needed to move faster before an explosion reaction could occur to make the experiment successful. And once these electrons zoomed from the metal to the water, something unique happened – for a bit of a moment, the water turned into a shiny, golden yellow color. With the help of spectroscopy, the scientists proved that this bright yellow water was metallic.    

Written by: Faiza Amin

Reported by: Imaaz Nadeem   

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