A new form of water 'super-ion ice' may exist inside Neptune and Uranus

Water changes into three states: solid, liquid, and gas, but in reality, there are more than 12 different structures in the liquid state alone. It is said that ice also has multiple structures, one of which is called 'super-ion ice'. Scientists have pointed out that this superionic ice may exist deep beneath Neptune and Uranus.

Structure and properties of two superionic ice phases | Nature Physics


Scientists find strange black'superionic ice' that could exist inside other planets

Superionic ice is formed in an ultra-high temperature and ultra-high pressure environment such as near the nucleus of Neptune and Uranus. Until now, we have succeeded in producing super-ion ice for a moment in the laboratory, but the latest research published in the academic journal Nature Physics shows that super-ion is actually produced in any environment. We are verifying whether ice can be generated and maintained.

Vitali Prakapenka, a researcher at the University of Chicago who participated in the study, said, 'Thanks to some powerful tools, we were able to map the properties of the new ice that make up the new stage of matter very accurately. '.

Since it is physically impossible for the research team to access the environment where super-ion ice is actually generated, the state of extreme heat and pressure is reproduced in the laboratory. For reproduction, a huge accelerator that generates X-rays by making full use of very fast electrons close to the speed of light is used.

In the experiment, two diamonds, which are the hardest substances on the earth, are arranged side by side, a sample is placed between them to apply high pressure, and then a laser is irradiated through the diamond to heat the sample. At this time, the sample is irradiated with X-rays, and the atomic arrangement inside the sample is analyzed based on how the X-rays are scattered.

Analysis has shown that when ice is used as a sample, the ice becomes superionic ice. Regarding superionic ice, Prakapenka said, 'Imagine a cube with oxygen atoms at the corners connected by hydrogen. When the cube changes to a new superion layer, the lattice expands and the oxygen atoms are fixed at the corners. The hydrogen atoms will be able to move as they are. This is like having an oxygen grid in the sea of ​​floating hydrogen atoms. '

It has also been shown that superionized ice returns to ice when it returns to room temperature, and Prakapenka said, 'In other words, it is clear that these are reversible structural changes rather than chemical changes.' I have.

When ice becomes super-ion ice, it becomes very dark because it becomes less dense and interacts with light. However, the chemical and physical properties of super-ion ice are still in its infancy, saying, 'Since super-ion ice is a new state of ice, it basically functions as a completely new substance, as we imagined. Is very likely to work differently, 'says Prakapenka.

Theoretical scientists predicted the existence of superionic ice, but most predicted that it would be 'produced by compressing water at pressures above 50 gigapascals.' However, in actual experiments, we have succeeded in producing super-ion ice just by compressing it with 20 gigapascals.

Accurately knowing the various states of ice is very useful for understanding the formation of planets and searching for traces of life outside the earth. In fact, the research team points out that this experiment on superion ice formation may provide suitable conditions for the formation of superion ice inside Neptune and Uranus.

in Science, Posted by logu_ii