Scientists Produced Superionic Ice Which Might Form The Ice Structures Of Uranus

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A new phase of solid superionic ice has been produced by a group of researchers from the University of Rochester in New York and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. That form of ice might naturally exist on Uranus and Neptune.

In order to do this, they had to use shock waves to heat and compress water at the same time until the temperatures reached 3000 Kelvin and the pressures 400 gigapascals. The project was named the ice XVIII, and its structure contains hydrogen ions (protons) that look like liquid as they diffuse through the oxygen atoms’ solid lattice.

Neptune and Uranus are two of the planets in the inside of which scientists think the superionic ice we mentioned can form a large fraction. These icy giants have an exciting structure and thanks to this new work we can understand them better.

Scientists Produced Superionic Ice Which Might Form The Ice Structures Of Uranus

According to Percy Bridgman, an American physicist was the first that discovered in 1912 five solid water phases, and several amorphous ice structures and more than 17 crystallines are known nowadays. As the bonds of the intermolecular hydrogen are weak, this is why water has such unusual and nowhere-else-seen behavior.

“Our research aims to explore the unusual properties of water under extreme pressures and temperatures (like those that exist deep inside planets),” explains the co-lead author of this new study, Marius Millot. We are used to water in either its vapor, liquid or ice state, but these are not the only phases of water, and this study helped find “a new exotic ice phase called superionic ice.”

The existence of this superionic ice should happen where more than 100 gigapascals of pressures and more than 2000 K of temperatures are applied to the water. Superionic ice might form the ice structures of Uranus and Neptune.