PORTLAND, Ore. -- Researchers say they have demonstrated that fluorine can be compressed into both a semiconductor and crystalline metal.
Researchers working for the Pentagon's Threat Reduction Agency and the National Science Foundation have demonstrated that fluorine can be compressed into both a semiconductor and crystalline metal.
Applications could range from an ultra-powerful oxidizer for destroying toxic microbes to super-efficient fuel cells to room-temperature superconductors.
"We have, for the first time, metalized fluorine," claimed researcher Choong-Shik Yoo of Washington State University. "We have proven the concept that under the right conditions, fluorine can exhibit the novel properties of both a semiconductor and a crystalline metal."
By inserting xenon di-fluoride (XeF2, a material used to etch silicon conductors) between two diamond anvils and applying almost half-a-million atmospheres (50 GPa), the researchers produced a two-dimensional graphite-like semiconductor. The application of almost 1 million atmospheres (100 Gpa) yielded crystalline metal.
In this state, the highly concentrated fluorine could kill toxic microbes in seconds. Moreover, the energy used to compress it could be recovered as electricity from a modified fuel-cell.
"This material could be used like in a fuel-cell like device. It would not have a separate fuel and oxidizer, but its operation would be similar in that chemical energy would be stored and could be released as electricity," said Yoo.
The researchers said their next step will be to synthesize the materials on a larger scale and find ways to stabilize them under ambient conditions. Applications also could extend to superconducting materials.