Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Iron fused with magnesium: New discovery may explain composition of Earth’s core


The outer core of the Earth, whose composition until now has been a mystery, may consist of an alloy of iron and magnesium. This discovery by an international team of scientists with members from Linköping University in Sweden, being published in the journal Physical Review Letters, is, among other things, a major step toward being able to predict earthquakes.

In theoretical and experimental studies under extremely high pressure, the team has succeeded in mixing iron and magnesium.

“To be able to model what happens in the interior of the Earth, we have to know the composition of the core,” says Igor Abrikosov, professor of theoretical physics at Linköping University in Sweden and one of the authors of the article being published in Friday’s issue of the journal.

In the Earth’s core the temperature (6,000 degrees C) and pressure (3 million times the pressure of the atmosphere) are so high that it can’t be studied experimentally. However, it is known that it is too light to consist solely of iron, and among other elements, silicone, sulfur, and oxygen have been proposed as being mixed in. On the other hand, magnesium has been excluded even though it is one of the Earth’s most common elements.

“It has been thought that iron and magnesium cannot be mixed in molten form, since the iron atomic volume is too small in relation to the magnesium atomic volume. But if we increase the pressure, the volume diminishes more rapidly in magnesium than in iron,” explains Igor Abrikosov.

The theoretical studies were followed up with a unique experiment in a so-called diamond anvil cell, which can withstand extremely high pressures. It turned out that it was possible to make alloys of iron and magnesium at pressures as low as 200,000 atmospheres.

The findings may also be of great significance in the search for new materials for industrial applications.

Other members of the team behind the article “Beating the miscibility barrier between iron and magnesium by high-pressure alloying” are L. Dubrovinsky, N. Dubrovinskaia , I. Kantor, W. A. Crichton, V. Dmitriev, V. Prakapenka, G. Shen, L. Vitos, R. Ahuja, and B. Johansson. The article is published in Physical Review Letters, vol. 95 no. 24.

Åke Hjelm | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Mat baits, hooks and destroys pollutants in water
22.03.2018 | Rice University

nachricht Jacobs University supports new mapping of Mars, Mercury and the Moon
22.03.2018 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Custom sequences for polymers using visible light

22.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat

22.03.2018 | Health and Medicine

Mat baits, hooks and destroys pollutants in water

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>