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Large H 2 O solubility in dense silica and its implications for the interiors of water-rich planets

Sub-Neptunes are common among the discovered exoplanets. However, lack of knowledge on the state of matter in$H2$O-rich setting at high pressures and temperatures ($P−T$) places important limitations on our understanding of this planet type. We have conducted experiments for reactions between$SiO2$and$H2$O as archetypal materials for rock and ice, respectively, at high$P−T$. We found anomalously expanded volumes of dense silica (up to 4%) recovered from hydrothermal synthesis above ∼24 GPa where the$CaCl2$-type (Ct) structure appears at lower pressures than in the anhydrous system. Infrared spectroscopy identified strong OH modes from the dense silica samples. Both previous experiments and our density functional theory calculations support up to 0.48 hydrogen atoms per formula unit of ($Si1−xH4x$)$O2 (x=0.12)$. At pressures above 60 GPa,$H2$O further changes the structural behavior of silica, stabilizing a niccolite-type structure, which is unquenchable. From unit-cell volume and phase equilibrium considerations, we infer that the niccolite-type phase may contain H with an amount at least comparable with or higher than that of the Ct phase. Our results suggest that the phases containing both hydrogen and lithophile elements could be more »

Authors:
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Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10145528
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume:
117
Issue:
18
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 9747-9754
ISSN:
0027-8424
Publisher:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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