Superionic and Metallic States of Water and Ammonia at Giant Planet Conditions

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Science  01 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5398, pp. 44-46
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5398.44

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The phase diagrams of water and ammonia were determined by constant pressure ab initio molecular dynamic simulations at pressures (30 to 300 gigapascal) and temperatures (300 to 7000 kelvin) of relevance for the middle ice layers of the giant planets Neptune and Uranus. Along the planetary isentrope water and ammonia behave as fully dissociated ionic, electronically insulating fluid phases, which turn metallic at temperatures exceeding 7000 kelvin for water and 5500 kelvin for ammonia. At lower temperatures, the phase diagrams of water and ammonia exhibit a superionic solid phase between the solid and the ionic liquid. These simulations improve our understanding of the properties of the middle ice layers of Neptune and Uranus.

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