They are the two lightest known metals in the universe and have plenty in common. Regrettably, that includes a distaste for contact with each other.
But that may soon change, say Cornell researchers. Given some healthy encouragement, the scientists have found that the two elements could abandon their mutual antipathy for something closer to, well, neighborly rapprochement. And they could do so in some surprisingly complex, and potentially very useful, ways.
The research, supported by the National Science Foundation, appears in the Jan. 24 issue of the journal Nature.
Using computer modeling complemented by what co-author Roald Hoffmann, the 1981 chemistry Nobel laureate and Cornell's Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor in Humane Letters Emeritus, calls "chemical intuition," the scientists have discovered hypothetical conditions in which Li and Be, squeezed together under hundreds of thousands of atmospheres of pressure, bind to form stable -- and possibly superconducting -- alloys.