Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Better model of water under extreme conditions could aid understanding of Earth's mantle

21.06.2018

UChicago researchers use quantum simulations to more accurately predict water properties

Deep inside the Earth exist pockets of water, but the liquid there isn't like the water on the surface.


Water under extreme pressure and temperatures displays odd properties, which were modeled by University of Chicago scientists.

Credit: Peter Allen

When exposed to unimaginably high temperatures and pressures, water exhibits all sorts of weird phases and properties, from remaining a liquid at temperatures 10 times higher than the boiling point to existing as a liquid and a solid at the same time.

This strange world is still not fully understood, but a team of University of Chicago scientists ran quantum simulations to develop a new model of the behavior of water at extremely high temperatures and pressures. The computational measurements, published June 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, should help scientists understand water's role in the makeup of the mantle and potentially in other planets.

"Subtle physics at the molecular level can impact properties of matter deep inside planets," said Viktor Rozsa, a UChicago graduate student and first author on the paper. "How water reacts and transports charge on a molecular scale affects our understanding of phenomena ranging from the movement of magma, water and other fluids to the magnetic field of the entire planet."

Under the conditions considered in the study--more than 40 times hotter than our everyday conditions and 100,000 times greater than atmospheric pressure--water is regularly ripping apart and re-forming its own chemical bonds. The result is that it can interact very differently with other minerals than it does on the surface of the earth.

Scientists have been trying to pin down exactly how these atoms interact for decades: It's extremely difficult to test experimentally, as water can react with the instrument itself. "It's surprising how little we know about water below the crust," said lead author Giulia Galli, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering and professor of chemistry at UChicago and a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.

But water in these conditions exists throughout the mantle--it's possible there may be more water distributed inside the Earth than there is in the oceans--and scientists would like to know exactly how it behaves in order to understand its role in the Earth and how it moves through the mantle.

Galli's group built a model by performing quantum mechanical simulations of a small set of water molecules at extremely high pressures and temperatures--in the range of what you need to synthesize a diamond.

Their model, built with the aid of simulations performed at the Research Computing Center at UChicago, provides an explanation for some of water's more mysterious properties at such pressures, such as the connection between bizarrely high conductivity and how its molecules disassociate and re-associate.

It also predicts and analyzes a controversial set of measurements called the vibrational spectroscopic signatures of water, or fingerprints of molecular movement that lay out how molecules are interacting and moving.

In addition to furthering understanding of our own planet, Galli said, "the ability to do the kind of simulations performed in our paper could have important consequences on modeling exoplanets." Many scientists, including those at UChicago, are narrowing the conditions for distant planets that might have the conditions to create life, and much of this search revolves around water.

Galli is a member of the research team in the Institute for Molecular Engineering's water theme, led by James Skinner, the Crown Family Professor of Molecular Engineering. The team seeks to understand the physical, chemical and biological manifestations of water, and to develop applications from innovative purification filters, to new materials for desalination and lithium ion harvesting, to new catalysts for water chemistry and disinfection.

While water is everywhere and intensively important to us, Galli said, it is notoriously difficult to simulate and study: "This is one step in the long journey to understanding."

###

Other authors on the study were UChicago postdoctoral researcher Federico Giberti and Ding Pan, a former postdoctoral associate and now a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Media Contact

Louise Lerner
louise@uchicago.edu
773-702-8366

 @UChicago

http://www-news.uchicago.edu 

Louise Lerner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://news.uchicago.edu/story/better-model-water-under-extreme-conditions-could-aid-understanding-earths-mantle
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1800123115

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Rock debris protects glaciers from climate change more than previously known
05.08.2020 | Northumbria University

nachricht Time To Say Goodbye: The MOSAiC floe’s days are numbered
31.07.2020 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

Im Focus: NYUAD astrophysicist investigates the possibility of life below the surface of Mars

  • A rover expected to explore below the surface of Mars in 2022 has the potential to provide more insights
  • The findings published in Scientific Reports, Springer Nature suggests the presence of traces of water on Mars, raising the question of the possibility of a life-supporting environment

Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Manifestation of quantum distance in flat band materials

05.08.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Discovery shows promise for treating Huntington's Disease

05.08.2020 | Health and Medicine

Rock debris protects glaciers from climate change more than previously known

05.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>