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This content will become publicly available on December 30, 2022

Title: Thermal conductivity of Fe-Si alloys and thermal stratification in Earth’s core
Light elements in Earth’s core play a key role in driving convection and influencing geodynamics, both of which are crucial to the geodynamo. However, the thermal transport properties of iron alloys at high-pressure and -temperature conditions remain uncertain. Here we investigate the transport properties of solid hexagonal close-packed and liquid Fe-Si alloys with 4.3 and 9.0 wt % Si at high pressure and temperature using laser-heated diamond anvil cell experiments and first-principles molecular dynamics and dynamical mean field theory calculations. In contrast to the case of Fe, Si impurity scattering gradually dominates the total scattering in Fe-Si alloys with increasing Si concentration, leading to temperature independence of the resistivity and less electron–electron contribution to the conductivity in Fe-9Si. Our results show a thermal conductivity of ∼100 to 110 W⋅m −1 ⋅K −1 for liquid Fe-9Si near the topmost outer core. If Earth’s core consists of a large amount of silicon (e.g., > 4.3 wt %) with such a high thermal conductivity, a subadiabatic heat flow across the core–mantle boundary is likely, leaving a 400- to 500-km-deep thermally stratified layer below the core–mantle boundary, and challenges proposed thermal convection in Fe-Si liquid outer core.
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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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