A team of researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was able to discover a new crystalline form of water ice at a stage of its formation, through a study they conducted on pressurized water, through which the discovery of measuring the properties of water under high pressure conditions.

A Science Alert report notes that this new shape is called the "Ice-VIIt tetragonal phase", and it occurs when material slips between two already known cubic particles.

In their study, the results of which were published in Physical Review B on March 17, the researchers concluded that this study could redefine the properties of water at high pressures, and could affect the understanding of distant planets. rich in water.

The study also provides clues about the shape water might take on other planets, where temperatures and pressures differ from those on our own.

Researchers used a new method to study the properties of ice under high pressure (Chris Higgins - University of Nevada Las Vegas)

A new method for studying the properties of ice

According to the press release issued by the University of Nevada Las Vegas, hard water is similar to many other materials in that it can form different solids according to different temperatures and pressures, as happens in the process of forming carbon for diamond or graphite.

However, water is exceptional in this respect as there are at least 20 solid forms of ice known to physicists.

To study the transitions between ice phases, researchers at the University of Nevada Extreme Laboratory, led by Zack Grand, conducted experiments on ice using a new method to study the properties of ice under high pressure.

According to the statement, the water sample was first placed between opposite ends of two diamonds, where it was frozen into several mixed ice crystals, then the ice was subjected to laser heating, which led to it temporarily melting before it was quickly re-formed into a powder-like group of small crystals.

By gradually increasing the pressure, and blasting it periodically with a laser beam, the team observed that the water ice transitioned from the cubic phase known as "Ice-VII", to the newly discovered intermediate phase, the "tetragonal phase" (Ice-VIIT). , before settling in another well-known stage of the ice known as "Ice-X".

New form of ice could be found on large moons and water-rich exoplanets (Shutterstock)

further discoveries

According to the statement, the laser heating technique used by the team of researchers not only allowed the observation of a new phase of the Quaternary water ice, but also allowed to observe that the transition to the tenth ice phase occurred under pressure approximately 3 times less than previously thought, and this transition was a topic discussed. heavily in the scientific community for several decades.

On the other hand, Grande says - in the press release - that it is unlikely that we will find the new phase of ice anywhere on the Earth's surface, as it is likely to be a common component within the Earth's mantle, as well as in large moons and water-rich planets outside our solar system.