Physicists challenge haters, create quadrangular ice

A bright blue laser light illuminates the sample.

The research team used a laser to melt the ice.
Photo: Chris Higgins

A team of physicists recently discovered a new phase of water ice, after They put normal Snow under unusually high pressure and then melted before letting it freeze. In the previous The unknown phase – called Ice-VIIt – is organized differently than Typical water ice. It does not occur naturally on Earth’s surface, but it does happen may be found in mantle or on distant moons and planets.

Ice-VIIt has quadrangular symmetry, in contrast to the cubic structure of the ice phase of which it is composed, Ice-VII. This quadrangular structure also sets Ice-VIIt (the letter “t” for “quatagonal”) apart from the hexagonal symmetry of natural water ice (known as Ice-I). This means that its crystal structure resembles a rectangular prism rather than a cube. The The results were published Last week in Physical Review B.

“The main point is that the community that has been studying ice has been very insistent that the Ice-VII cube is the dominant higher element.Zachary Grande, a University of Nevada physicist, said, Las Vegas and lead author of the study, in an email to Gizmodo. “But we were able to use our new method to get more accurate measurements than anyone before, allowing us to observe this subtle quantum shift.”

To synthesize the unique ice phase, researchers freeze a water sample under crushing a diamond anvil cellthat squeezed water molecules between two diamonds. They used a laser to thaw the sample briefly, before allowing it to freeze again in a new configuration. By compressing the sample under pressures similar to those on Earth Centerthat they Ice-VII forced into Ice-VIIt. Grandi said the newly discovered stage was similar enough to Ice-VII to be named similarly.

Ashkan Salamat, also a UNLV physicist and one of the research authors, said in University release. “It’s the missing piece, and the most accurate measurements on the water under these conditions.”

Ice-VIIt may occur naturally in the Earth’s mantle; Although the interior of our planet is hot and high-Pressure ice such as Ice-VIIt has higher melting points. Instead of melting at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes 1,Heat of 340 degrees Fahrenheit to make the rare icy phase liquefy.

Ice-VIIt transitions to Ice-XThe phase the team found will occur only at the third Pressure physicists previously believed it was necessary to induce the condition. Grandi said that the discovery of Ice X had more extraterrestrial effects than the presence of Ice-VIIt.

“If there were planets with a large amount of water inside their atmosphere, the planets would in fact be larger than we previously thought, Grande said, “Because the water won’t pressurize, and that’s why, Astronomers will need to reassess the water supplies of many of the large exoplanets that have been discovered in recent years.”

Webb Space Telescope may help reassess; Among its many tasks he is Unprecedented study of exoplanets the details. The telescope is expected to be operational by summer.

More: So much ice has melted, and the Earth’s crust is changing in strange and new ways

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