Breakthrough discovery could make Aquaman a reality

Underwater breathing may no longer belong to the realms of scifi following the breakthrough by Danish scientists

Scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have announced they have developed a substance that absorbs, stores and releases huge amounts of oxygen. 

Professor Christine McKenzie and Jonas Sundberg from the university's Department of Physics, Chemistry, and Pharmacy, aided by a team at the University of Sydney, synthesised a crystalline that binds and stores high concentrations of oxygen with the ability to release it again at a later date.

Just like Aquaman
The substance has quickly been dubbed “the Aquaman Crystal” after the DC Comics character who can breathe underwater because it has the potential to radically change the way divers breathe underwater. 

“A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath and, as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than a few grains,” explained the lead researcher, Professor McKenzie, in a press release. 

Similarly patients with lung ailments might be able to discard their heavy oxygen tanks in the future.

Absorbent like a sponge
"The material can absorb and release oxygen many times without losing the ability," continued McKenzie. "It is like dipping a sponge in water, squeezing the water out of it and repeating the process over and over again.” 

According to Guardian Liberty Voice, an American online media organisation, the crystals are made from a sodium/cobalt mixture. Besides gobbling up oxygen from their surroundings, they also change colour, depending on the level of its oxygen saturation.

The crystals turn black when the oxygen content reaches its saturation point and return to pink when the oxygen is released.