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American physicists from the Lawrence Livermore national laboratory received a new form of matter, called superionic ice. Conditions suitable for this phase exist only in the depths of the icy giant planets such as Uranus or Neptune. Article scientists published in the journal Nature Physics.
It is known that water ice has 18 varieties of crystalline and some amorphous. They are formed in different pressure and temperature and differ in the arrangement of water molecules. It is theoretically shown that at high pressures of 50-100 GPA (one gigapascal is approximately equal to ten thousand atmospheres) water molecules are broken, causing the ice becomes superionic. From oxygen atoms formed in the crystal lattice, within the limits of which are free to move hydrogen ions.
So far the researchers have not observed superionic ice in the laboratory, although the number of scientists was able to achieve the conditions under which should occur the transition of conventional ice to an exotic phase. Despite the fact that was was signs superione conductivity, its value was not high enough.
In the experiment, the researchers used a cubic modification, ice VII, which was sandwiched between two diamond anvils at a pressure of 2.5 gigapascal and room temperature. The sample was subjected to intermittent UV beam to create a shock wave. During the propagation of the wave front in a small area of ice encountered extreme physical conditions suitable for a phase transition to the superionic state. The pressure reached 100-300 GPA.
The results of optical measurements testified superione conductivity typical for a new form of ice. While superionic ice melts at 190 GPA and a temperature of about five thousand degrees Celsius.
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