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  1. Abstract

    Here we have performed single-crystal X-ray diffraction (SCXRD) experiments on two high-quality crystal platelets of (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite (Mg0.88Fe0.0653+Fe0.0352+Al0.03)(Al0.11Si0.90)O3 (Fe10-Al14-Bgm) up to 64.6(6) GPa at room temperature in a Boehler-Almax type diamond-anvil cell. Refinements on the collected SCXRD patterns reveal reliable structural information of single-crystal Fe10-Al14-Bgm, including unit-cell parameters, atomic coordinates, and anisotropic displacement parameters. Together with Mössbauer and electron microprobe analyses, our best single-crystal refinement model indicates that the sample contains ~6.5 mol% Fe3+, 3.5 mol% Fe2+, and 3 mol% Al3+ in the large pseudo-dodecahedral site (A site), and ~11 mol% Al3+ in the small octahedral site (B site). This may indicate that Al3+ in bridgmanite preferentially occupies the B site. Our results show that the compression of Fe10-Al14-Bgm with pressure causes monotonical decreases in the volumes of AO12 pseudo-dodecahedron and BO6 octahedron (VA and VB, respectively) as well as the associated A-O and B-O bond lengths. The interatomic angles of B-O1-B and B-O2-B decrease from 145.2–145.8° at 4.2(1) GPa to 143.3–143.5° at 64.6(6) GPa. Quantitative calculations of octahedral tilting angles (Ф) show that Ф increases smoothly with pressure. We found a linear relationship between the polyhedral volume ratio and the Ф in the bridgmanite with different compositions: VA/VB = –0.049Φ + 5.549. Our results indicate an increased distortion of the Fe10-Al14-Bgm structure with pressure, which might be related to the distortion of A-site Fe2+. The local environmental changes of A-site Fe2+ in bridgmanite could explain previous results on the hyperfine parameters, abnormal lattice thermal conductivity, mean force constant of iron bonds and other physical properties, which in turn provide insights into our understanding on the geophysics and geochemistry of the planet.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    Bridgmanite, the most abundant mineral in the lower mantle, can play an essential role in deep-Earth hydrogen storage and circulation processes. To better evaluate the hydrogen storage capacity and its substitution mechanism in bridgmanite occurring in nature, we have synthesized high-quality single-crystal bridgmanite with a composition of (Mg0.88Fe0.052+Fe0.053+Al0.03)(Si0.88Al0.11H0.01)O3 at nearly water-saturated environments relevant to topmost lower mantle pressure and temperature conditions. The crystallographic site position of hydrogen in the synthetic (Fe,Al)-bearing bridgmanite is evaluated by a time-of-flight single-crystal neutron diffraction scheme, together with supporting evidence from polarized infrared spectroscopy. Analysis of the results shows that the primary hydrogen site has an OH bond direction nearly parallel to the crystallographic b axis of the orthorhombic bridgmanite lattice, where hydrogen is located along the line between two oxygen anions to form a straight geometry of covalent and hydrogen bonds. Our modeled results show that hydrogen is incorporated into the crystal structure via coupled substitution of Al3+ and H+ simultaneously exchanging for Si4+, which does not require any cation vacancy. The concentration of hydrogen evaluated by secondary-ion mass spectrometry and neutron diffraction is ~0.1 wt% H2O and consistent with each other, showing that neutron diffraction can be an alternative quantitative means for the characterization of trace amounts of hydrogen and its site occupancy in nominally anhydrous minerals.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2025
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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  5. Earth’s inner core is predominantly composed of solid iron (Fe) and displays intriguing properties such as strong shear softening and an ultrahigh Poisson’s ratio. Insofar, physical mechanisms to explain these features coherently remain highly debated. Here, we have studied longitudinal and shear wave velocities of hcp-Fe (hexagonal close-packed iron) at relevant pressure–temperature conditions of the inner core using in situ shock experiments and machine learning molecular dynamics (MLMD) simulations. Our results demonstrate that the shear wave velocity of hcp-Fe along the Hugoniot in the premelting condition, defined asT/Tm(Tm: melting temperature of iron) above 0.96, is significantly reduced by ~30%, while Poisson’s ratio jumps to approximately 0.44. MLMD simulations at 230 to 330 GPa indicate that collective motion with fast diffusive atomic migration occurs in premelting hcp-Fe primarily along [100] or [010] crystallographic direction, contributing to its elastic softening and enhanced Poisson’s ratio. Our study reveals that hcp-Fe atoms can diffusively migrate to neighboring positions, forming open-loop and close-loop clusters in the inner core conditions. Hcp-Fe with collective motion at the inner core conditions is thus not an ideal solid previously believed. The premelting hcp-Fe with collective motion behaves like an extremely soft solid with an ultralow shear modulus and an ultrahigh Poisson’s ratio that are consistent with seismic observations of the region. Our findings indicate that premelting hcp-Fe with fast diffusive motion represents the underlying physical mechanism to help explain the unique seismic and geodynamic features of the inner core.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 10, 2024
  6. Abstract Thermoelastic properties of mantle candidate minerals are essential to our understanding of geophysical phenomena, geochemistry, and geodynamic evolutions of the silicate Earth. However, the lower-mantle mineralogy remains much debated due to the lack of single-crystal elastic moduli (Cij) and aggregate sound velocities of (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite, the most abundant mineral of the planet, at the lower mantle pressure-temperature (P-T) conditions. Here we report single-crystal Cij of (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite, Mg0.88Fe0.1Al0.14Si0.90O3 (Fe10-Al14-Bgm) with Fe3+/ΣFe = ~0.65, up to ~82 GPa using X-ray diffraction (XRD), Brillouin light scattering (BLS), and impulsive stimulated light scattering (ISLS) measurements in diamond-anvil cells (DACs). Two crystal platelets with orientations of (–0.50, 0.05, –0.86) and (0.65, –0.59, 0.48), that are sensitive to deriving all nine Cij, are used for compressional and shear wave velocity (νP and νS) measurements as a function of azimuthal angles over 200° at each experimental pressure. Our results show that all Cij of singe-crystal Fe10-Al14-Bgm increase monotonically with pressure with small uncertainties of 1–2% (±1σ), except C55 and C23, which have uncertainties of 3–4%. Using the third-order Eulerian finite-strain equations to model the elasticity data yields the aggregate adiabatic bulk and shear moduli and respective pressure derivatives at the reference pressure of 25 GPa: KS = 326 ± 4 GPa, µ = 211 ± 2 GPa, KS′ = 3.32 ± 0.04, and µ′ = 1.66 ± 0.02 GPa. The high-pressure aggregate νS and νP of Fe10-Al14-Bgm are 2.6–3.5% and 3.1–4.7% lower than those of MgSiO3 bridgmanite end-member, respectively. These data are used with literature reports on bridgmanite with different Fe and Al contents to quantitatively evaluate pressure and compositional effects on their elastic properties. Comparing with one-dimensional seismic profiles, our modeled velocity profiles of major lower-mantle mineral assemblages at relevant P-T suggest that the lower mantle could likely consist of about 89 vol% (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite. After considering uncertainties, our best-fit model is still indistinguishable from pyrolitic or chondritic models. 
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  7. Abstract The post-stishovite transition is a classic pseudo-proper typed ferroelastic transition with a symmetry-breaking spontaneous strain. This transition has been studied using high-pressure spontaneous strains, optic modes, and elastic moduli (Cij) based on the Landau modeling, but its atomistic information and structural distortion remain poorly understood. Here we have conducted synchrotron single-crystal X-ray diffraction measurements on stishovite crystals up to 75.3 GPa in a diamond-anvil cell. Analysis of the data reveals atomic positions, bond lengths, bond angles, and variations of SiO6 octahedra across the transition at high pressure. Our results show that the O coordinates split at ~51.4 GPa, where the apical and equatorial Si-O bond lengths cross over, the SiO6 octahedral distortion vanishes, and the SiO6 octahedra start to rotate about the c axis. Moreover, distortion mode analysis shows that an in-plane stretching distortion (GM1+ mode) occurs in the stishovite structure at high pressure while a rotational distortion (GM2+ mode) becomes dominant in the post-stishovite structure. These results are used to correlate with elastic moduli and Landau parameters (symmetry-breaking strain e1–e2 and order parameter Q) to provide atomistic insight into the ferroelastic transition. When the bond lengths of two Si-O bonds are equal due to the contribution from the GM1+ stretching mode, C11 converges with C12, and the shear wave VS1[110] polarizing along [110] and propagating along [110] vanishes. Values of e1–e2 and Q are proportional to the SiO6 rotation angle from the occurrence of the GM1+ rotational mode in the post-stishovite structure. Our results on the pseudo-proper type transition are also compared with that for the proper type in albite and improper type in CaSiO3 perovskite. The symmetry-breaking strain, in all these types of transitions, arises as the primary effect from the structural angle (such as SiO6 rotation or lattice constant angle) and its relevant distortion mode in the low-symmetry ferroelastic phase. 
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  8. Earth, the only known habitable planet in the Universe, has a magnetic field that shields organic life-forms from harmful radiation coming from the Sun and beyond. This magnetic field is generated by the churning of molten iron in its outer core. The habitability of exoplanets orbiting other stars could be gleaned through better understanding of their iron cores and magnetic fields ( 1 ). However, extreme pressure and temperature conditions inside exoplanets that are much heavier than Earth may mean that their cores behave differently. On page 202 of this issue, Kraus et al. ( 2 ) used a powerful laser to generate conditions similar to those inside the cores of such “super-Earths” and reveal that even under extreme conditions, molten iron can crystallize similarly to that found at the base of Earth’s outer core. 
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