You Soon Can Dive Without An Oxygen Mask Thanks To This New Material

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” — Oprah Winfrey

Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again. Your breathing should flow gracefully, like a river, like a watersnake crossing the water, and not like a chain of rugged mountains or the gallop of a horse. Breathing is living. And in the near future, you will be able to breath even under water thanks to a new material synthesized by researchers in a lab.

Based on special crystalline materials, scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have created a substance that is able to absorb and store oxygen in such high concentrations. It’s like dipping a sponge in water, squeezing the water out of it and repeating the process over and over again. A bucket full of material (about 22 pounds) is enough to suck up all the oxygen in an average sized room. The concreteness is also able to release the stored oxygen in a controlled manner when it is needed, which is ideally suitable for divers to get rid of carrying heavy bulky scuba tanks.

The new material specifically uses the elements cobalt, bound in organic molecules. “Cobalt gives the new material precisely the molecular and electronic structure that enables it to absorb oxygen from its surroundings. Small amounts of metals are essential for the absorption of oxygen, so actually it’s not entirely surprising to see this effect in our new material,” said professor Christine McKenzie of the University of Southern Denmark.

Interestingly, one of important aspects of this new material is that it doesn’t react irreversibly with oxygen — even though it absorbs oxygen in a so-called selective chemisorption process. “The material is both a sensor, and a container for oxygen. We can use it to bind, store, and transport oxygen — like a solid artificial hemoglobin,” explained professor McKenzie.

This breakthrough could also prove to be invaluable in various areas, such as regulating oxygen supply in fuel cells or creating devices like face masks that use layers of the material to provide pure oxygen to a person directly from the air, without the need of other equipment. More amazingly, lung patients may not have to carry oxygen tanks with them.

What about light? Professor McKenzie said that they are now wondering if light can also be used as a trigger for the material to release oxygen. “This has prospects in the growing field of artificial photosynthesis.”

The research was published in the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Chemical Science.

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