Superionic ice, it is both solid and a liquid and is over sixty times denser than usual water ice. In fact, it forms only when hit by temperatures as high as on the Sun’s surface. And for the first time ever, scientists have been able to recreate it in a lab.
The idea of super high-pressure ice has always been in existence, the theory is that it can happen on the inside of planets like Uranus and Neptune. However these were just theories and until now, it was all a talk and no proof. The Livermore Laboratory in California has changed this and made its existence a reality.
They did not just rely on simulations and predictions either, in their laboratory they actually created the superionic ice and were able to study water’s strange behavior at such high temperatures. About 30 years ago researchers though that the strange behavior of being solid and liquid at the same time could be possible. Now we have confirmation that this is indeed true, the reasoning behind the theory was that due to the extreme pressure and heat found in huge planets the ice becomes so dense that the molecules move like a liquid.
The scientists used lasers to create the environment of high pressure and heat found on Neptune, they then used compressed water for the ice to allow an even higher amount of pressure. This was a new innovating technique that allowed the discovery to be made. However, this was only the first challenge! Once they relieved the pressure, to allow them to analyze their creation they only had about 20 nanoseconds before it broke down and dissolved.
They were able to do it though and get the confirmation that it was indeed a type of ice, which they have named superionic ice. They found when water is under 29 million pounds of pressure than ice forms at 8,540 degrees Fahrenheit(4,725 degrees Celsius), something which just sounds completely unnatural. The interesting thing is that this study gives us a real look at how the inside of huge planets are made up: that their mass must mostly be water.