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Space Science

New Type of Chemical Bond Predicted To Exist In White Dwarfs 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the played-by-sean-connery dept.
ananyo writes "A previously unknown type of powerful chemical bond should be induced by the ferocious magnetic fields of white dwarfs and neutron stars, according to computer simulations. If the effect can be harnessed in the lab, 'magnetized matter' could be exploited for quantum computing. Chemists identify two classes of strong molecular bonds: ionic bonds, in which electrons from one atom hop over to another, and covalent bonds, in which electrons are shared between atoms. But researchers at the University of Oslo accidentally discovered a third bonding mechanism when they simulated how atoms should behave under magnetic fields of about 105 tesla — 10,000 times the biggest fields that can be generated on Earth (abstract)."
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New Type of Chemical Bond Predicted To Exist In White Dwarfs

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  • 105 Tesla (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2012 @09:58AM (#40712309)
    Should be 10 to the 5 Tesla, or 10^5, or 10**5 if you're a Fortran guy...
    • Re:105 Tesla (Score:5, Informative)

      by Annirak (181684) on Friday July 20, 2012 @11:41AM (#40714137)

      You're correct, but even so, the statement

      10,000 times the biggest fields that can be generated on Earth

      is complete bullshit. Superconducting MRIs produce 3T fields just fine. And check out the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory; they have the record field strength of 100.75T [fsu.edu]

      • The hard drive you are working on right now produces a field strength of ~1T I believe. It just happens to be a rather small field :)

    • Yea, 105 tesla isnt 10,000 times bigger than what we can create on earth. Hard drive magnets are around 1T, IIRC, as are MRI magnets (though substantially larger and with a correspondingly bigger field).

      Plus, neutron star magnetic fields arent close at all to MRI fields-- im pretty wood becomes magnetic (in addition to the other changes it experiences :P ) in the vicinity of a neutron star or white dwarf.

  • http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-06/german-lab-generates-highest-magnetic-field-ever-created-lab [popsci.com]

    Using a two-layer, 440-pound copper coil the size of a water bucket, they managed to coax 91.4 teslas from their creation for just a few milliseconds, surpassing the previous record of 89 teslas.

    Now I'll have to go and read the abstract...

    Tim.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2012 @10:01AM (#40712347)

      TFS is wrong. It's not 105 T, it's 10^5 T.

      • by game kid (805301)

        Submission has the mistake as well, so either the cut-and-paste or the Slashdot filter ate the sup tag.

        • sup, dawg?

          I look forward to the folks in my radio astronomy group asking me to make a 10,000 Tesla magnetic field for their molecular spectroscopy rig.
      • by locofungus (179280) on Friday July 20, 2012 @10:05AM (#40712397)

        Indeed. I've read the abstract now. But 10^5 Tesla is about 100x what can be created in the lab, not 10000x

        No idea where that 10000x came from. I might have guessed at the meaning if it hadn't been for that 10000x.

        Tim.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          10^5 = 100 x 100?

          It's 1000x our best non-destructive pulsed fields, and 2000x our best constant fields.

          Unless you're counting destructive pulse apparatuses, in which case I think the record is something like 3kT, it's only 30x that.

        • Scientists discover an exotic fundamental particle called the ficton with the rest mass of a small moon that only existed in the unimaginable pressures and temperatures of the first 10^-25 seconds after the universe began its expansion. They promise it will allow users with next-generation PDAs to play Angry Birds with quantum computing.
          • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday July 20, 2012 @10:55AM (#40713311)

            You know what's the saddest thing about your joke? That you're right. We'll get quantum computers that can do calculations at speeds we cannot even fathom today, yet in the end they'll be used to play silly games that could have run on a C64. And watching porn, of course.

            • by melikamp (631205)

              And watching quantum porn, of course.

              TFIFY

            • by Anonymous Coward

              And watching porn, of course.

              Whew, for a second there, I thought you were going to claim it would only be used for frivolous activities.

          • by Rei (128717)

            While an insightful post, note that stranger things have happened. A lot of things can seem totally out of reach from practicality before a technological breakthrough or rapid series of continuous advances totally changes the picture.

            • by shaitand (626655)

              Yes but this will be rediscovered then and only nerds with obscure knowledge will credit the original discovery.

          • by fritsd (924429)

            They promise it will allow users with next-generation PDAs to play Angry Birds with quantum computing.

            I for one welcome our new avian, brick-tunneling overlords!

        • Indeed. I've read the abstract now. But 10^5 Tesla is about 100x what can be created in the lab, not 10000x

          10^5 is actually over 1000x what can be created in the lab, last I checked.

          Or did we manage a 1000 Tesla field when I wasn't looking?

          • Around 1000 Tesla has been achieved using destructive measures (explosive compression).

            I believe almost 3k Tesla has been reached but that wasn't just destructive of the apparatus but also destructive of the laboratory!

            100 Tesla is about the non-destructive limit at present.

            Of course, these things are constantly being worked on and it's not something I follow so the above figures might be out of date.

            Tim.

      • NOPE.

        105 Chuck Tesla

  • Racist. (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why does it always have to be about race with you kids?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday July 20, 2012 @10:08AM (#40712439) Journal

    Our magnet crazed Floridians [fsu.edu] have a 45 tesla magnet that can operate for short periods without destroying itself and the most powerful 'destructive pulsed electromagnets' can reach ~1000 tesla, for their quite brief operational lives. (.flv of such a magnet giving its life for science [fsu.edu])

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      /. fucked up the formatting - it's supposed to read "10^5 Tesla", not "105 Tesla". Or, to be more explicit, 100,000 Tesla, which in indeed roughly 10,000x the strength of the magnetic field we can sustain.

      • Not really, 50 Tesla is perfectly doable with current super conductors. 10-12 Tesla is what you'll find in commercial NMR spectroscopy set-ups. So the number you're looking for is actually 2000 times the strength of what we can sustain. (For reference: experimental NMR imaging goes up to 7 Tesla at this point)
        • by necro81 (917438)

          So the number you're looking for is actually 2000 times the strength of what we can sustain

          Phew! Thank goodness! When someone said that we had to create a field 10,000x than currently possible, I was really worried. But here you go and say it's only 2,000x - that's downright easy.

        • by gman003 (1693318)

          Same order of magnitude. 1.0E1, 1.2E1, 5.0E1, they're all effectively the same distance from 1.0E5.

          • A factor of 5 isn't negligible though. If you wish to claim otherwise I advice you to look up the difference between a 1 Tesla magnetic field and a 5 Tesla magnetic field. The former can be produced using neodymium rare earth magnets fairly easily, the latter we tend to resort to super conductors and liquid helium. People often underestimate the difference 1 Tesla can have on the magnetic field and the device used to generate it. So yes, a factor of 5 is very significant in this case.
      • by jo_ham (604554)

        The NMR machine I use daily is 10 Tesla, and that's the baby one.

        We can do much better than 10T sustained.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How did you get modded to a 5? Not quite correct, I work at the NHMFL (I am at my desk right now) and I can assure you that the 45T runs continuously for many hours at a time. The only real limit is the power bill. It is a hybrid magnet, where a resistive electro-magnet sits inside a superconducting one. As for all superconducting, we are currently building a 32T which will shatter the current records that are closer to 25T.

  • by Antipater (2053064) on Friday July 20, 2012 @10:23AM (#40712689)

    They're destroying the sanctity of traditional chemical bonding!

    "Though shalt not lie with an atom magnetically as one would lie with an atom electrostatically. It is an abomination."

    - Pauliticus 18:22

  • by Phase Shifter (70817) on Friday July 20, 2012 @10:36AM (#40712889) Homepage
    Apparently the author of TFA has never heard of a type of material known as a metal [wikipedia.org] either.

    I think I'll have to dig up the Science article to get really meangful info on this.
  • by avandesande (143899) on Friday July 20, 2012 @10:41AM (#40712997) Journal

    I was disappointed that the best thing they could come up with was applications in quantum computing- there could be a host of novel synthesis based on this bond.

    • there could be a host of novel synthesis based on this bond.

      I had a few novel ideas myself, but I'm too lazy to write that much.

    • I was disappointed that the best thing they could come up with was applications in quantum computing- there could be a host of novel synthesis based on this bond.

      If it stays bonded out of the magnetic field.

      If not, and you could create such a field, and such bonds, even for a fraction of a second, you could put it to useful work in quantum computing, since you might only need a few atoms per bit. A 1Mb quantum computer could do some amazing things before it disintegrated. 1 million molecules of unobtanium that only lasted a few milliseconds would have limited uses, other than studying the properties of unobtanium.

      • You could create highly reactive intermediates that would allow you to do new things (what for instance would this do to carbon dioxide and hydrogen)?

        • I wouldn't bet on this bound being hightly reactive. The oposite is more likely, that this thing is extremely stable.

    • I read this as basically saying that we are a millimeter closer to a quantum computer. Whatever apparatus is used to create these fields would cease to exist, according to the scientists who published the paper -- not surprising, given how chemistry changes under those conditions. The engineering challenges involved with making a scalable quantum computer remain just as big as they were before; this looks like a drop in a nearly-empty swimming pool to me.
  • by lvxferre (2470098) on Friday July 20, 2012 @11:31AM (#40713939)
    First of all, why seems everybody forgets about the metallic bonds?
    Covalent: that old, nice and sharing couple;
    Ionic: same as above, but one of them is abusive and electron digger;
    Metallic bond: communism of electrons (or orgy, if you prefer).You know, covalent and ionic aFirst: covalent and ionic aren't two "types" of bonds but extremes of the same continuum. Some bonds - like in hydrogen fluoride - lie pretty much between them, not being fully ionic or fully covalent.


    Second thing: ironically, there is no such thing as "types" of bonds. These three categories above aren't "unmixable", you have "metallic" bonds with covalent properties (like gold loves to make), you have borderline covalent-ionic bonds (like HF), this kind of thing. Think in them as extremes in a triangle, while most real life bonds lie inside this triangle.


    Lastly, about the article itself... seems like "quantum computing" is what they put when they cannot think in an application to a Chem or Phys discovery nowadays. And I understood they didn't found a new bond type or whatever; their discovery was "oh look, orbitals can be deformed by magnetic fields!".
  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Friday July 20, 2012 @11:32AM (#40713967)
    So, two atoms fused together via this magnetic bonding, do they need to be in this ludicrous magnetic field to remain bonded?
    If we, somehow, got the teslas to make a molecule or two of these, would they continue to exist outside of the lab? OR, if we went skinny-dipping in a white dwarf and picked up a handful of this crazy goop, and brought it back to earth, would they persist?

    Also, does anyone really have even the slightest clue to the properties of these molecules?
    • So, two atoms fused together via this magnetic bonding, do they need to be in this ludicrous magnetic field to remain bonded?

      That's how I read it -- the field makes it possible for the atoms to remain bonded even when the electron enters an excited state, which would typically break the bond (in layman's terms: it would be much harder to get hydrogen to combust under such conditions). Take the field away, and the atoms should return to normal bonding states, where the excited electrons break the bond and things still operate like we expect.

      Of course, this is still pretty exciting for manufacturing things. If you could sus

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A Dense Plasma Focus [wikipedia.org] can produce Giga Gauss fields (1GG = 10^5 Tesla), though only in a very small space.

    See for example:
    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/1770673_Advances_towards_pB11_Fusion_with_the_Dense_Plasma_Focus" [researchgate.net]

    (Was the first link that came up at Google searching for "dense plasma focus gg")

  • James Bond.

  • Typo? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2012 @12:42PM (#40715221)

    Shouldn't that be a ferrocious magnetic field?

    Sorry, somebody had to say it...

  • IANAP but it sounds like this suggests white dwarfs could be surrounded by something like
    - partial shells and tissues of hydrogen, helium and perhaps other molecules with the necessary geometries
    - onion like concentric shells
    - or even if constantly jostling and not broadly connected, there are a lot of molecules all lined up end to end like antenna wires
    - possibly coronal ejections would be made of such tissues, and would become disrupted with increasing distance from start

    I wonder if any kind of observatio

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