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Powerful lasers create a wild new kind of ice that seems to exist in Uranus



Artistic depiction of superionic ice formed on the surface of a diamond.
Image: Millot, Coppari, Hamel, Krauss (LLNL

) Scientists used high-energy lasers to create a new ice phase that was different from Earth's before-but that could exist deep in Neptune and Uranus ,

Due to the structure of the water, it can freeze to many different crystalline forms (including Ice IX, which does not have the same characteristics as the Ice-IX of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle (19459024).) One of the strangest forms is supersonic ice, where hydrogen atoms flow through a solid oxygen crystal like a liquid.Superionic ice might be important to understanding how giant ice planets have evolved: using X-rays and lasers, scientists have recently been able to produce and prepare this ice in the laboratory

Researchers initially predicted the existence of super-ionic ice in 1988 and, for the first time, evidence of its existence in 2018. New methods have allowed scientists to actually observe their atomic structure.

Scientists squeezed water molecules between them a diamond pair and shot the sample with six high performance They emit laser beams in a special, 15 nanosecond sequence using the University of Rochester's omega laser laser power laser. This creates shock waves between the diamonds, which press the water molecules to a pressure approximately equal to the pressure at the center of the earth and temperatures around half of the Earth's core. (You may think that ice should be cold, but matter is sensitive to temperature and pressure, which means that at really high pressures, water can turn into ice at temperatures that are expected to be a liquid or a gas Immediately after the laser pulse, they shoot the sample with X-rays, allowing them to measure the structure of their production. The biggest challenge was to measure the sample fast enough after the ice had been generated to produce a unique signature signature.

"Given the extreme conditions under which this elusive state of matter is considered stable, water compresses water to such pressures and temperatures, and at the same time to take snapshots of atomic structure, was an extremely difficult task requiring an innovative experimental design required, "said the author of the study, Federica Coppari, in a press release by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

imaging of lasers to take a sample.
image: Millot, Coppari, Hamel, Krauss (LLNL

) And their efforts have been successful, Coppari said, "There is other evidence for the existence of this superionic ice." Beam diffraction measurements are an important validation. The team has proposed naming their ice XVIII. 19659005] "This study brings the last missing piece into the Puz 30 years after the original Before say, "the authors write in the study published in Nature.

Superionic ice cream is more than just a curiosity. "We believe it makes up most of the bulk of Uranus and Neptune," said Jonathan Fortney, director of the Other Worlds Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz, to Gizmodo. When these planets are full of this strange form of ice, scientists may need to think about their models of how heat flows through these worlds and how they cool off over time.

Researchers still hope to be able to take measurements at higher temperatures and pressures in order to completely flush out the nature of this ice and to understand the pressure at which ice assumes this superionic form.

Our everyday experiences are limited to the temperatures and pressures that are common here on earth. It's easy to forget how many wild matter states with strange properties might exist in other areas.


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