A Metallic Hydrogen as a knife blade

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Steelwolf

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Summary
Wondering if the recently proven Metallic Hydrogen, which is apparently meta-stable, would be useful for extremely fine cutting instruments.
I have never posted a Q here before, but as an old knife and swordmaker, when I saw this article: https://phys.org/news/2019-06-french-scientists-metallic-hydrogen.html

It suddenly piqued my interest: IFF one can create a large enough, meta-stable crystal of metallic Hydrogen, and were able to shape and fix the blade into the proper fixture:

How would that work as a microtome type blade?

Most knives in use use rather large atoms in crystalline or quasi-crystalline form as for the ceramic knives. But I would think that a blade that was essentially formed of a crystal composed of Single protons and Proton-neutron pairs in a shared electron 'cement' or maybe electron 'epoxy' would be better term, but the crystalline edge would be finer than most atomic bonds in larger-atom structures.

Such a knife, properly affixed, should be able to make nearly perfect cuts of a material, even up to diamond, and leave a surface that needs no polishing to see relevant details.

Of course, so far we have only miniscule amounts of metallic Hydrogen being formed in diamond anvil presses, yet if a large enough sample should be made, I would expect it to be able to make The Sharpest Blade of physical materials as opposed to laser or electron beam cutting work.

It may be a major field in itself, if we can develop a method to create the material in bulk.

But, in general, asking if such could be made and what problems one might run into with it?

Obviously there may be certain rates of cutting that would cause friction and make the Hydrogen to 'de-mineralize' back to liquid and rapidly back to gas in an explosively quick manner, or certain chemical or magnetic situations that may cause same so such limits would have to be learned, but imagine being able to take one atom thick slices of any material, or as thick of a slice as will still hold together, and the knife blade itself could be extremely thin in the body as it should not take much friction to effect such cuts. Leaving perfectly cut surfaces with no need for polishing.

It may end up being better than lasers or obsidian. But, is it do-able? And at what kind of costs?
 
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which is apparently meta-stable
Has that been demonstrated now? I have seen speculation that it might be or might not be, but nothing conclusive.

The size of atoms is not what limits the sharpness of blades. In addition I doubt that metallic hydrogen with a single-atom edge would stay metallic there even if the bulk material might.
 

Steelwolf

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@mfb , Thanks for the reply. I understand there are still questions, and rather big ones, about Metallic Hydrogen being meta-stable, such as what conditions are required for it to be meta-stable, such as relative high pressure hydrogen atmosphere for working conditions, what would it react with upon contact and the like.

My apologies for conjectures, but science IS built on such, SO...

The single H Atom edge, as I see the meta-stable state, makes the single Protons or Proton-Neutron pairs form what appears to be a closely bonded crystalline solid that is bounded by a shared electron state, as most metals do. Most metals have more than one electron to be able to share, and so I wonder (question part coming in again) if the metallic Hydrogen crystal, having the shared electron properties of metals, and kept together/apart by Van Der Walls forces with the actual 'surface' being the shared electron state, would the mass/edges be resistant to forming atomic bonds with other materials, or would that break the meta-stability state?

But that was more of the questions I did wonder about, so appreciate the comment. We are not sure of any answers there yet: More Data Needed.

I find it very Interesting stuff when you get to the idea of meta-stable hydrogen metal as it would seem to require that it specifically excluded binding with other atoms while in that state. Also, I do know that crystal size and angles has a lot to do with the sharpness (I WAS a top end knifemaker), and even such round things as buckminsterfullerene would make excellent edges for some specific applications.

But I am also looking at the idea of such use in highly controlled situations anyhow, such as doing work with being able to put a yet finer edge on an ultramicrotome where you want to be able to slice apart a protein at clear atomic junctions, but without the inherent damage caused by the thicker diamond edge or even using present laser ablation techniques where you have to chose which half of the specimen you want to save and the 'fraying/melting' damage side effects from the micro-explosion/fast-flow of the ablation-removal technique anyhow.

Even ion-etch sharpened diamond cannot quite do that as the angular structure of the diamond lattice is still too large and still tears finer structures, which is part of why I considered the Metallic Hydrogen metal, IFF it can be made properly meta-stable and non-reactive enough. I wonder if the Metallic Hydrogen could be used as an applied material to the diamond edge, much like we can now use diamond coating on certain tooling, perhaps a metallic hydrogen coated diamond ultramicrotome knife?

It would certainly be high end, specialized sort of tool and I would not expect to see it in use at anything more than centimeter sized items, most likely millimeter scale, if even that, due to the energy required and the inherent danger of it destabilizing and expanding such a size mass might be hazardous. Although as an addition onto diamond, as a finer edge application, might be safer and easier to use.

However, IFF such blades are possible would open up a whole thinner slice on the microtomy stage since a hydrogen blade 'crystals' would have to be smaller, by an order or so, than even the best diamond blade's crystals , merely due to distance between atoms and thus the relative difference in crystal size so that a 'chisel edge' with the Metallic Hydrogen would be denser and sharper than any possible diamond edge. I would think it would be a game changer on some levels, and, if such blades are possible (Another Q) would it be possible that they (metallic Hydrogen in general) have an absolute hardness higher than that of diamond?

Imagine a metallic Hydrogen Scanning-tunneling type microscope needle...

I guess since the reality of us being able to make Metallic Hydrogen in the lab, even if it is microscopic in scale, my mind works to come up with possible realistic uses for the stuff aside from other experimental things that can be done with it, of course some ideas don't work, but one never knows until tried. These are just a couple of things I would like to see tried with this material. Obviously they are likely to require exotic handling capability, but we have been working that direction for a long time, this is just another step down in the 'still physical' scale realm.

Lots of conjecture, but I think I have my basic science down on most of it, just that there are a lot of unanswered questions still. Back to the Lab, Please People, We Need Answers!
 

ZapperZ

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Imagine a metallic Hydrogen Scanning-tunneling type microscope needle...
I used to work with STM. Can you tell me why I would need such a thing? We already have atomic resolution STM. Why would I need a metallic hydrogen STM tip and have to worry about not only the high pressure that it has be in (which is contrary to the environment inside an STM chamber), but also the unbelievably low temperature that it has to be maintained.

And to address your question, even if we can make such a metallic hydrogen blade, once it comes in contact with another object that you want to cut, that contact point becomes warmer, and all that property of metalicity can easily be quenched. We deal with this problem all the time when we design superconducting systems. Even RF heating inside SRF cavity can cause localized regions that become normal conducting, all without touching anything!

Speculating is easy. Anyone can do it. It is the DETAILS that matter here.

Zz.
 

Steelwolf

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I appreciate the details from folks who actually work with the equipment and know the points where such things would fail. I appreciate the info. Thank You!

However, if the material is able to withstand room temp conditions and even vacuum, for STM it should be a nearly noiseless probe of mostly dense-packed protons, and with some experimentation I am sure you could give fine point control and map with the tiny fields and lobes of the electron's paths, and Might be able to do a finer area and deeper scan than present.

It would be interesting, especially since they are already using hydride molecules for STM tips, this would be metallic hydrogen all the way down. possibly the ability to control a single electron (or electron-hole pair) and track it's path rather than pushing the mass of a proton around instead

I do understand the questions involved, we had lots of ideas of what metallic hydrogen would be like in our physics class in HS, back in 1980 when Metallic Hydrogen was still a theorized for deep gas planets only and extremely mysterious: was it even really a metal if it shared it's one electron what would hold the proton in place? How would it crystallize or would it be more like a glass? Would it require low temps and high pressure to sustain itself or could it, like Ice made on the surface of the planet in atmosphere, still last in a vacuum? At what pressure difference does it start sublimating?

We had this whole list of experiments that we would try on metallic hydrogen if it was able to be made. I even had the idea (and diagrams) at the time of making it via diamond cells, complete with the different stages of pressure relief required so that you do not get a pressure distortion that literally blows up the experiment. But even the lab teacher thought that would be too expensive for most lab directors to even think about passing (remember science in the 80's?)

I was always a bit ahead of my time, I could extrapolate to a high degree what sorts of goods and problems might come of certain inventions with high accuracy. I figured (correctly) that 8-track tapes were made to maximize a consumer-throw away society as they self-erased while the tape was sliding past itself, blurring the magnetic imprint. I wondered about the possibility of aluminized mylar edges corroding on early CD's, since they were stamp-formed. I have a list of these things, like the steel, flexible 'Blades that amputees are able to run on now, my mom exclaimed that I should have had the patent because I described doing that exact same thing, even down to shape needed, when I was about 10 yrs old, and she told me after I got out of the Navy and she was plain amazed that I had essentially seen 15 years in the future and had thought of a product that someone else developed...so I have been, well, even as a knife and sword maker, cutting edge on this sort of stuff.

Heck, I told the physics teacher (just like I had told my 2nd grade teacher when they described 'diamond strong single layer carbon, they already thought to be a possible wonder material even back then, graphene from graphite, like in our pencils), I told both, at different times that they should plain use Scotch Tape to remove layers of graphene, but they both told me that "If it was that easy they would certainly have already tried it" yet it was over a decade later when a Japanese duo did exactly that, even to the point of using Scotch Tape!!

So, I get a little vexed with people who tell me things are not possible when they have not even been tried yet, I could have had my name attached to graphene production as a high-schooler, 40 years ago or more had I been listened to, but no, scientists already know more than you kid, so we dont wanna hear it, if it was that easy we wouldda done it already. Yeah, right. So, understand where I come from when people say 'It cannot work', 'would already have been tried' or 'it is out of your league so your ideas have no merit'...even though they end up later proving me right themselves in their attempt to prove me wrong.

However, even with metallic Hydrogen possible I am sure it will need some form of special handling, But, even if such a material required special handling, we have to give extreme special handling to literally hundreds of tons of materials all over the place already, for the ability to find a physical substance that can possibly be that hard and maybe even sharp at the same scale, would be a game changer for several different industries and people would most certainly spend the monies needed to make it happen, IFF it Can Work.
 

ZapperZ

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I appreciate the details from folks who actually work with the equipment and know the points where such things would fail. I appreciate the info. Thank You!

However, if the material is able to withstand room temp conditions and even vacuum, for STM it should be a nearly noiseless probe of mostly dense-packed protons, and with some experimentation I am sure you could give fine point control and map with the tiny fields and lobes of the electron's paths, and Might be able to do a finer area and deeper scan than present.
Sorry, but you have provided NO evidence to claim such a thing. Considering that this material has to be (i) under high pressure and (ii) under such extremely low temperature, what makes you think that you can isolate the external vibration? There is nothing to indicate that this is "nearly noiselesss". The biggest "noise" in a STM/AFM data are all the external environment.

We had to do a huge amount of gymnastic just to isolate a a SRF cavity from the non-superconducting part of the cavity. Just how bad do you think this will be when this metallic hydrogen comes into contact with a normal object? You DO know that STM/AFM tips crash against the sample all the time, don't you?

Zz.
 

Steelwolf

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Thank You @PAllen and ZapperZ

Yes, I do understand, however, I DO, VERY WELL understand we do not have a mass of this material to play with so we are lacking answers. Data on this is very badly needed, but we need some directions in which to look for the data that is needed. Finding the electronic and signal natures of the material is all well and good, but what are it's physical capabilities, what things can it be put to other than a superconducting wire. If it is stable enough then it may well work for very specialized lab-work precision cutting

It MAY NOT need high pressure containment to stay meta-stable, it may be that low temperatures will work as well. It may Not need as super special conditions as we presently assume that it will. As far as insulating it thermally and against outside noise, yes, understood, what I am looking at is most of your needles, as any modern product today, is usually radioactive and great lengths are gone to to find pre-atomic age materials to use for such because of the lack of radioactives inherent in the alloys of modern materials of all sorts due in part from our own testing with nuclear arms arms and the high background levels.

An STM/AFM cantilevered needle/arm structures of nearly pure, crystalline-ordered protons (as Hydrogen metal would really be) would have much less of a problem with the random internal radiation heating, which is one reason for the random crashes: heat from fission release expands needle or cantilever arm, expansion in narrow items is maximal in the longest dimension thus pushing your tip into the work Also the change in charge due to the change of material in the fission process will give odd fluctuations as well. Normally taken into consideration in most fields I know, but in some fields it is much more of a nuisance than others.

Recent way was developed to 'float' the tip based on signal as I saw in a Phys.org article. It is a newer way that gains more information and greatly mitigates the needle crash problem by redefining a certain parameter instead of pushing into the material when it got a certain 'back-signal' it was properly routed and allows the needle tip to essentially float on the chosen electron flux density, and that the material density wave problem, where the needle encountered a thicker section, even if only half an atom higher, essentially solved itself with the needle self-raising to stay above the physical (nucleus) surface and at the electron field surface of specific density only. Finer material crystal would seem to mean finer grade of data possible too.

Had talked with a person who had worked on the early STMs and heard a good rundown on the various types of noise to be occluded, thermal, radio cavity inclusions forming wave-guides, radioactivity heating or particle damage causing things from needle expansion to damage to their pickups, alpha particles bouncing around in the vacuum chamber do not help either, various gas combinations not working out and such things as certain tin alloys becoming explosive at certain low temps. All Kinds of fun things they found, and so we surely stand on the shoulders of giants who have stood on their own giants for us to see this far at this time.

I am imagining that such an ultramicrotomy stage would have a lot of similarities to an STM/ATM setup and would be of particular use in Atomic Forge situations, especially since one would preferably like to be able to scan at the same time that one cuts.

Perhaps running a current along the very edge of the Hydrogen knife while cutting would keep other atoms from bonding to the Hydrogen edge, creating in effect an 'electron edge', cold electron edge that is not having the be projected thru open space such as electron beam taxigraphy as it is bonded/bounded to/by the Proton crystal bulk.

I can imagine that there may be a few different headaches in creating such, but then again, I was a welder that crawled around inside nuclear reactor spaces, so I am not just the 'general run of the mill country knifemaker' that thinks he has some new supermaterial without knowing the use parameters.

I am from the other end of the spectrum, knowing what we have managed to be able to do So Far, and looking at new and different ways to push certain types of investigations in ways that follow paths we have already been going down, but just adding a 'finer point' to it, if you will.

So, while I FULLY understand that we do not have this material to really be able to play with, I am pointing out some things that we MIGHT be able to do with it by the time we Do get to where we can mass produce it.

(Suppose there are tiny little discs that, once released from the diamond presses, slipped and cut their way through the (for it) huge spaces between other atoms and crystal materials, and cut it's way down to a 'happy depth' where it could be near it's own inherent density.) I suppose dream series and start for sci-fi book there.

So, speculation, yes, but Educated speculation.
 
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PAllen

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Do you understand that this new result is wholly unconfirmed, and no more likely to be correct than the string of predecessors? The article you originally posted mentions the skepticism, but only chooses to quote cheerleaders.

Until one of these results is confirmed by a second team, there are no grounds for optimism, given the track record in this field.
 

Steelwolf

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Well, considering the fantastic advances with Fusion Power, I should have my solid diamond with Metallic Hydrogen Coating in about 20 years.....or so...maybe...LOL (Yes, I do understand)

Thank You Folks, I still get miffed at teachers for not allowing me to get the Nobel for the separation of Graphene, even though I told my teachers just how to do it in gradeschool and then again in Highschool, so please pardon my not quite taking your word for it. No, it has not been shown to have such state, repeatedly, in a lab Yet. But it is still a good thing to start outlining some possible uses for such materials, just in case it IS a stable and a material that can be worked with here. Lots of work and many questions needing answered, More Data is the ever present cry of our ages, even as we struggle to store or maintain that which has been previously stored.
 

fresh_42

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I think we have discussed it within the range allowed by our rules.
Until one of these results is confirmed by a second team, there are no grounds for optimism, given the track record in this field.
Let's wait and see.

Thread closed.
 

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