Scientists managed to create "ice-8" - a strange substance that is only twice as cold as the sun

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have been able to reproduce and measure the extreme form of water ice for the first time. It received the name "ice-8" or "superionic ice", since the conducting flow here is formed by ions instead of electrons. This ice forms at a pressure of 3 gigapascals and has a temperature of up to 2750 degrees Celsius - only half that on the hot surface of our Sun.

Ice, as the state of aggregation of water, only on the surface of the Earth can be associated with cold. In the rest of the Universe, it is much more dependent on pressure - for example, in the vacuum of space, water instantly evaporates, and this is at a temperature of -270 ° C. Because the pressure is zero and the substance expands very quickly, although then it still desublimes into ice crystals. And if the pressure is very high, then the water will never become steam.

Obtaining ice-8 itself did not raise any special questions, as did simple measurements, but the scientists wanted to "see" the crystalline structure of the substance and prove that it is solid ice, and not a super-viscous liquid. To do this, a thin layer of water was placed between diamond anvils and a series of shock waves was launched using six ultra-powerful lasers. As a result, the researchers managed to create a pressure of 100-400 gigapascals at a target temperature of 1600-2750 ° C.

Such conditions last only a few nanoseconds, so a plasma impact was prepared in advance, which generated an X-ray flash - reflections of rays from ice crystals on an X-ray diffraction pattern and became evidence of the existence of an ordered structure of ice-8. Its conditions of existence and special properties can help scientists understand some anomalies of the planets Neptune and Uranus, whose magnetic fields behave differently than on Earth. It is possible that instead of a solid mantle, these planets have a surface covered with hot ice.