Quantum effects in condensed matter normally only occur at low temperatures. Here we show a large quantum effect in high-pressure liquid hydrogen at thousands of Kelvins. We show that the metallization transition in hydrogen is subject to a very large isotope effect, occurring hundreds of degrees lower than the equivalent transition in deuterium. We examined this using path integral molecular dynamics simulations which identify a liquid-liquid transition involving atomization, metallization, and changes in viscosity, specific heat and compressibility. The difference between H2 and D2 is a quantum mechanical effect which can be associated with the larger zero-point energy in H2 weakening the covalent bond. Our results mean that experimental results on deuterium must be corrected before they are relevant to understanding hydrogen at planetary conditions.
van de Bund, Sebastiaan; Ackland, Graeme J.; Wiebe, Heather. (2021). Isotope quantum effects in the metallization transition in liquid hydrogen, [dataset]. University of Edinburgh. School of Physics and Astronomy. https://doi.org/10.7488/ds/3042.