New crystal allows divers to stay underwater for hours

Ever wanted to breathe underwater? You might be able to in the near future.

Scientists at the University of Southern Denmark have developed a “crystalline substance that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations” according to Mic. Apart from the possibility from breathing underwater, these crystals can also be used in lieu of oxygen tanks for people, industries, and even vehicles as a source of fuel. These crystals act as both a sensor and a container for oxygen molecules; they bind, store, and transport the oxygen within their structure.

The crystals function through their unique molecular and electronic structure. Cobalt is used in the material and the resulting molecular and electronic structure gives it an affinity to oxygen which allows it to be readily absorbed and bonded with the crystal.


Christine McKenzie, researcher from the University of Southern Denmark describes it as “a solid artificial hemoglobin.” Approximately 10 litres of the crystals can absorb an entire room’s worth of oxygen. The oxygen can then be released by gently heating them or by introducing them to a low oxygen environment, and can be done so without the use of pumps or high-pressure equipment. 

These crystals can continually store and release oxygen without degrading. The rate which the crystals absorb oxygen depends on the oxygen content in the air, and the pressure and temperature of the environment they are in. Different types of crystals can be made to store and release oxygen at different rates and under different circumstances. 

New research is being done to see if light could also be used as a release mechanism.

Forecasted start year: 
2026 to 2030


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