An international team of researchers from the University College Dublin (UCD) and the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, has observed the ‘proton-hopping movement in an area of high pressure in the form of ice (Ice VII lattice).
This type of movement can be present in planetary bodies such as Venus, along with Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus, and their moons; or exoplanets (planets outside the Solar System), mediated by the external electric fields.
This electric driving in ice discovery has the potential to alter and improve our understanding of the behavior and molecular dynamics of high-pressure ice in the Universe, in all its different forms and diverse environments.
The discovery has been announced in a scientific article entitled “the Possibility of Superionic Ice VII in the External Electric Fields of Planetary Bodies,” has just been published in Science Advancesa peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary, open-access scientific journal.
Ordinary water ice is known as Ice I, while the Ice VII is a cubic crystalline form of ice that can be formed from liquid water above 3 GPa (30,000 atmospheres) to decrease its temperature to the ambient temperature, or by the unpacking of heavy water (D2O) Ice VI below 95 K.
Ice VII has a simple structure of two inter-penetrating, and effectively independent, cubic ice sub-networks, and is stable across a wide region above 2 GPa. Since the Ice VII of the simple structure and the stability of its importance as a potential candidate for a superionic (SI)-ice phase, in which the Oxygen atoms being crystallographically ordered, while the protons become completely diffusive as a result of the dissociation, it has been hypothesized that for some time.
In addition, theoretical studies indicate possible SI-ice prevalence in great planet cloaks, like Uranus and Neptune, and exoplanets, or those with permanent or transient electric fields, such as Venus.
The challenge for scientists to date has been to realize SI-ice and the discovery of protons in the jump’ in the Ice VII was made by Professor Niall English, UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering with his postdoctoral research fellow, Dr. Zdeněk Futera, and the role of co-author, Professor John Tse of the University of Saskatchewan.
Professor Niall English, UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, said: “Our new fundamental discovery consists in the application of electric fields, which induce proton of the separation of the constituents of the fathers of the molecules of water, and the Grotthuss-type ‘of proton hopscotching’ of a water molecule to the next, displacing the proton in the following string in a game similar to musical chairs, thereby establishing an electrical current or a flow of charge.”
He added, “This has important implications for the hypothesis of Ice VII in several planetary and exo-planetary bodies, with permanent or transient electric fields, such as the vicinity of Venus and the moons of Jupiter, such as (water-rich) Europe, and, above all, Ganymede.”
“This development in the ice of physical chemistry has the potential to lead to the possible detection spectroscopy of exotic phases of ice in the universe.”
The underlying (non-equilibrium) molecular-simulation approaches in the external electric fields are promising in terms of its potential use in the upper design of charge-transport materials for solid-state device physics.
Dr. Zdeněk Futera, now at the University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic, said, “the potentiation of the ongoing research programs of collaboration with Professor John Tse of the University of Saskatchewan, we have established a good theoretical understanding of the electric fields’ molecular manipulation of the proton conduction, which contributes to our microscopic knowledge of load flow.”
Professor John Tse, Department of Physics and Engineering Physics, University of Saskatchewan, said, “Our work elucidates the atomistic and electronic sources IF the behavior in Ice VII, which mimics the recent laser-shockwave experiments of Ice-XVIII by: millot and colleagues published in The nature a year ago. In the Universe, we note that Venus has a permanent electric field, which can be expected to strongly influence the macroscopic behavior of water in the same.”
“The explanation also explains why these protons can be seen riding along when an electric field is applied. Therefore, this study is able to provide a clear and consistent explanation for previously puzzling problem—the ‘how and why’ of making ice superionic.”
Professor of English, he concluded, “we want to recognize the High-Performance computing support and facilities UCD as well as the collegiality and the vision of the professionals in the ice-physics of the global community.”
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Zdenek Futera et al. Possibility of superionic ice VII in the external electric fields of the planetary bodies, Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz2915
The University College Of Dublin
The researchers observed that the protons ‘playing hopscotch’ in an area of high pressure in the form of ice (2020, May 25)
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