(Mirror Daily, United States) – A group of scientists claim that water can morph into an exotic state called superionic ice if it is exposed to high temperatures and pressures just like on the icy planets Neptune and Uranus.
When in the superionic state, water’s hydrogen ions stay liquid and move inside a solid structure made of oxygen.
The superionic ice was first theorized in 1988, but it is the first time scientists are able to confirm the theory in laboratory conditions. It is also the first time when researchers have evidence that superionic water ice is real.
Lead author Marius Millot said his team used shock compression to push water into the fourth state. Researchers were able to access thermodynamic signatures that water ice starts melting at 5,000 Kelvin and tremendous pressures, which are temperatures close to those on the surface of the Sun.
Our experiments have verified the two main predictions for superionic ice: very high protonic/ionic conductivity within the solid and high melting point,
researchers wrote in a recently published paper.
Superionic Ice Is Real
The team described water’s behavior under such extreme conditions “extraordinary”. The simulations were obtained with help from quantum technology, laser-triggered shock compression, and diamond anvil cells.
They found that superionic ice at room temperature has a crystalline form that has no similarity to normal ice cubes’ molecular structure. In the new state, superionic water is denser than normal water.
When they focused six laser beams from an extremely powerful machine onto the water sample, several shock waves compressed and heat the water ice simultaneously.
The water had been pre-compressed, so the shock heating was less intense than that on normal liquid water, scientists explained. This way, the team was able to push water into much colder states and high pressures than in similar past experiments and finally achieve stability of superionic ice.
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