A New Kind of Ice

Putting Hydrogen on Ice. ‘Researchers looking for better ways to make and store hydrogen have accidentally discovered an entirely new kind of ice. Made of molecular oxygen and hydrogen, the highly energetic and as-yet-unnamed compound currently exists only under rarefied laboratory conditions. It is different from the 17 known forms of ice, but researchers think its discovery could advance understanding of the nature of water under extreme conditions, such as in the interior of planets and even inside nuclear reactors. It also might help to spawn new rocket fuels. A team at the Carnegie Institution of Washington led by Wendy Mao had been attempting to split apart water at high pressures to form a solid mixture of molecular oxygen and molecular hydrogen. The researchers squeezed a sample of water with a diamond anvil to a pressure of 17 gigapascals, about 170,000 times the normal atmospheric pressure at sea level. They then bombarded the water with high-energy x-rays. The molecules split, then reformed into a previously unknown combination of O2 and H2.’

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