Kryptonite may no longer be just the stuff of fiction feared by caped superheroes as a team of scientists has got the formula! Theoretical chemists from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences have found how to synthesize the first binary compound of krypton and oxygen: a krypton oxide.
It turns out that this exotic substance can be produced under extremely high pressure, and its production is quite within the capabilities of today’s laboratories.
Crystals of kryptonite, a material deadly to Superman and his race, were supposed to have been created within the planet Krypton and therefore, most likely under very high pressure. The progenitor of the name, real krypton, is an element with an atomic number of 36, a noble gas considered to be incapable of forming stable chemical compounds.
However, the publication by a two-man team presents the possibility of synthesizing a new crystalline material in which atoms of krypton would be chemically bonded to another element.
“The substance we are predicting is a compound of krypton with not nitrogen, but oxygen. In the convention of the comic book it should, therefore, be called not so much kryptonite as kryptoxide. So if Superman’s reading this, he can stay calm – at the moment there’s no cause for panic!” laughs Dr. Patrick Zaleski-Ejgierd.
He added that their krypton monoxide, KrO, probably does not exist in nature. According to current knowledge, deep in the interiors of planets, that is, the only place where there is sufficient pressure for its synthesis, oxygen does not exist, nor even more so, does krypton.
The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.