Scientists have received a new state of matter – superionic ice

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at the University of Chicago say they were able to create a “strange” new state of matter called “superionic ice.” The authors of the study admit that this substance may exist in nature, hiding in the bowels of some planets of the solar system.

“It was a surprise – everyone thought that this condition would not manifest until much higher pressure was applied than we first found it,” said Vitaly Prakapenko , co-author of the study at the University of Chicago. “But we were able to very accurately depict the properties of this ‘strange’ ice, which represents a new phase of matter, thanks to several powerful tools.”

A curious state of matter

Prakapenko’s team used a particle accelerator to fire electrons between two diamonds, creating a giant 20 gigapascal pressure in the water sample and forcing it to form a completely new structure that self-destructed after the pressure was released.

“Imagine a cube, a lattice with oxygen atoms at the corners connected by hydrogen,” explains Prakapenko. “When it [the cube] transforms into this new superionic phase, the lattice expands, allowing the hydrogen atoms to move while the oxygen atoms remain in place. It’s like a solid oxygen grid in an ocean of floating hydrogen atoms. “

Now that they have an article about the experiment published in the scientific journal Nature, the team plans to study the properties of the new state of matter and what happens when it interacts with other materials, Prakapenko said. Scientists believe that the conditions in the bowels of Uranus and Neptune can naturally lead to the appearance of superionic ice.


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