A New Form of Water Confirmed with Experiments at LLE


On 5 February, the New York Times Science section posted an article featuring an experiment conducted at LLE under the Laboratory Basic Science Program and was published in the journal Nature Physics [M. Millot, S. Hamel, J. R. Rygg, P. M. Celliers, G. W. Collins, F. Coppari, D. E. Fratanduono, R. Jeanloz, D. C. Swift, and J. H. Eggert, “Experimental Evidence for Superionic Water Ice Using Shock Compression,” Nat. Phys. 14 (3), 297-302 (2018)]. The paper discusses a new form of water that is simultaneously solid and liquid and highlights experiments conducted by a team of scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the University of California Berkeley, and the University of Rochester and led by Marius Millot, a physicist at LLNL. This new form of water is called “superionic water” and is not known to exist naturally on Earth. Scientists created it by squeezing water between two pieces of diamond to create a type of ice that is about 60% denser than usual. Then, on the OMEGA Laser System, a pulse of laser light was used to heat the ice to thousands of degrees to exert a pressure more than a million times that of Earth’s atmosphere. These conditions exist inside Uranus and Neptune and undoubtedly within numerous ice giants around other stars.