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Uranus and Neptune, the mysterious "super-ion water ice," scientists finally succeeded

Science 2018-02-07 19:22:56 59

Recently, scientists finally discovered a new water ice (ultra-ionic water), which is both a solid and liquid water. This will give us a better understanding of the most common substances on Earth and facilitate the development of new materials.

The idea of ​​super-ionic water has actually been proposed decades ago. It is said to exist within the planets of Uranus and Neptune, but until today no one can prove its existence experimentally.

In the new study, scientists make ultra-ionic water using a series of high-pressure ice and a series of powerful laser pulses.

This combination provides the conditions of temperature and pressure that are not found in nature on Earth, for the first time we really see this mysterious water.

Marius Milo, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, said: "These experiments were extremely challenging and it was exciting to learn a lot from that data. It took us about two years Of the time to measure, and another two years to develop data analysis. "

Water molecules are V-shaped structures consisting of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The weak intermolecular forces become more pronounced when cooled, and when the water freezes, the molecules break apart.

In ultra-ionic water ice, high-intensity heat breaks chemical bonds between atoms in water molecules, leaving a solid crystalline structure of oxygen atoms and forming a hydrogen nucleus or ion flow between them, producing both solids and liquids.

This can be said to be a very strange material condition.

First, researchers crossed water through two layers of diamond to form a special type of ice called "Ice VII," which created more than a million times the pressure of the earth. This ice is still solid at room temperature.

In another laboratory, they crossed the ice with laser shock waves lasting 1 to 200 billionths of a second, creating extreme conditions sufficient to produce super-ionic water ice. This is called Shock Compression.

The initial precompression of ice allows researchers to push the ice to higher temperatures before it is completely evaporated.

By capturing the optical appearance of ice, scientists are able to determine where ions rather than electrons move in the material because it appears opaque rather than shiny.

Now we know the existence of ultra-ionic water ice. It can help explain the very off-center magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune.

At the same time, this is an example of how molecules can work under extreme temperature and pressure conditions. We can even design new materials with specific properties by controlling the specific reactions of the molecules.

Sebastian, one of the researchers, explains: "I think we've come to a turning point because of the increase in available computing resources, and we're in the middle of a lot of simulations that are working, which allows us to draw in extreme conditions Phase diagrams for most of the relevant materials effectively support experimental work. "

At present, the related research was published in the academic journal Nature and Physics on February 5.