My Project

Now that you have some background on D(0), what it is, and why it is an important area of research, I can explain in more depth what I plan to do.

My goal is to synthesize and detect D(0) by replication the work of Professor Holmlid as described in several publications. There are two components to my project, the first is to actually build a device capable of producing D(0), and the second is to build a scintillation counter to detect rare spontaneous fusion events in D(0).

In Efficient Source for the Production of Ultradense Deuterium Holmlid details the key components of the emitter that his group uses to create samples of D(0). The apparatus is quite simple, and pictured below (from the article):



This set-up exposes the deuterium to two different processes. As deuterium gas flows through the platinum tubing a small portion of it dissociates into individual atoms of hydrogen, known commonly as “atomic hydrogen” or “nascent hydrogen”. Platinum is a particularly effective metal for this purpose, it is used widely in chemistry as a hydrogenation catalyst precisely because it effectively dissociates hydrogen. The tube is heated by a copper current clamp to around 200 celsius, and this further aids the dissociation process.

If two hydrogen atoms come into close proximity with each other they will recombine into regular molecular hydrogen, and for this reason, the hydrogen flow must be kept at fairly low pressure (also to limit the deuterium used and to keep as a high a vacuum as possible,

Now that some of the hydrogen has been converted into the monoatomic form it is passed through a small cylinder of potassium-doped iron oxide, specifically, a material known as S-105, which is used as a hydrogen abstraction catalyst. The when the hydrogen atoms leave (desorb from) the surface of the S-105 catalyst they are able to fall into the correct energy state to allow them to aggregate together to form D(0) clusters/chains.

After this, the D(0) clusters/chains should fall below onto a piece of metal foil, and very very rarely, one of them will have two deuterium atoms spontaneously come close enough to each other to fuse, and, though as-of-yet-unexplained mechanisms, produces mesons. These will rapidly decay into muons, which, if they exist, should pass through a block of plastic scintillator attached to the cosmic ray detector inside the container, and stimulate the plastic to produce blue photons. These photons will form a small electric signal in the avalanche photodiode, which will be picked up by the Arduino nano at the heart of the detector. If enough of these events are logged within a short period, it will provide evidence that ultra-dense deuterium has been created.



Properties and Applications of Ultra Dense Deuterium

In the previous post, I briefly mentioned that Ultra-Dense Deuterium (D(0)) has several remarkable properties in common with theorized properties of metallic hydrogen. It is important to keep in mind that these properties are difficult to confirm because D(0) has not been produced in bulk. Quantities that can be readily created are in the nanogram range.

The first property, from which it’s common name derives, is D(0)’s incredible density. Because of the inter-atomic bond distance of only ≈ 2.4 picometers, if a bulk sample of D(0) could be created its density is estimated to be in the range of 130-140 kg per cubic centimeter. This is more than 5 order of magnitude more dense than water, and roughly 1/10 th the density of a white dwarf star.

With this property, there is a caveat because the structure of ultra-dense deuterium is not known. There have been two possible proposals for the structure of D(0) and neither suggests a continuous lattice that many typical solids demonstrate (like metals or glass) a polymeric form (like plastics and wood) or even a stable periodic form (most other solids). As such it is most likely that a bulk-material would exhibit a less close-packed liquid or even gas-like form with a lower (though still astonishingly high) density.

This exceptional density means that D(0) is the more energy dense conventional (non-nuclear) material, because, being made of hydrogen, it can be burned in air. For this reason, it could prove to be a revolutionary rocket fuel.

The second property that Holmlid has reported in D(0) is superfluidity, a property previously observed only in very cold liquid helium. Superfluids are a form of matter with zero viscosity. This means that if one had a cup full of a superfluid, and stirred it in some direction, it would continue to spin in that direction indefinitely, implying that it effectively has zero friction. A truly frictionless surface has several obvious engineering applications, and would undoubtedly allow for the construction of more efficient machinery.

Having a cup of superfluid would be impossible because of another property of superfluids. Zero viscosity combined with a non-zero surface tension means that the meniscus of a superfluid is infinite, so it is able to escape from any container that it is contained within and flow to the lowest available point, even if blocked by a wall. This effect has been well demonstrated along with other remarkable properties of superfluids (such as the ability to create unpowered and continuously running fountains) using superfluid helium.

Another notable property of D(0), and perhaps the most potentially useful is superconductivity. A superconductor has zero resistance, meaning it is able to carry an electric current without the loss of any energy. The most obvious application of superconductors is for improving the efficiency of electronics and the electricty distribution system. Because loops of superconductors can carry an electric current in circles indefinitely it can also be used to create very strong permanent magnets and has been the basis of several proposals for “maglev” trains, and is already utilized for devices such as MRI which require exceptionally strong magnetic fields that can be turned on and off.

Many materials are superconductive, including many common metals and metal salts, however, this superconductivity can only manifest below materials’ “critical temperature”. Over the last few decades, there has been extensive work towards developing materials with higher critical temperatures, however, progress has been slow and sporadic. The materials with the highest critical temperature until recently have been the “cuprates”, which have a critical temperature above the temperature of liquid nitrogen. The highest recorded critical temperature is -135 celsius, and it is this low temperature of operation that hinders the large-scale application of superconductors. What makes D(0) remarkable is that it appears to be superconductive at standard temperature and pressure.