Metallization of Shock-Compressed Liquid Ammonia

Metallization of Shock-Compressed Liquid Ammonia

Fri, 12/02/2021


Participation of LGL-TPE in an article published in Phys. Rev. Lett. on January 13, 2021


Ammonia is predicted to be one of the major components in the depths of the ice giant planets Uranus and Neptune. Their dynamics, evolution, and interior structure are insufficiently understood and models rely imperatively on data for equation of state and transport properties. Despite its great significance, the experimentally accessed region of the ammonia phase diagram today is still very limited in pressure and temperature. Here we push the probed regime to unprecedented conditions, up to ∼350 GPa and ∼40 000 K. Along the Hugoniot, the temperature measured as a function of pressure shows a subtle change in slope at ∼7000 K and ∼90 GPa, in agreement with ab initio simulations we have performed. This feature coincides with the gradual transition from a molecular liquid to a plasma state. Additionally, we performed reflectivity measurements, providing the first experimental evidence of electronic conduction in high-pressure ammonia. Shock reflectance continuously rises with pressure above 50 GPa and reaches saturation values above 120 GPa. Corresponding electrical conductivity values are up to 1 order of magnitude higher than in water in the 100 GPa regime, with possible significant contributions of the predicted ammonia-rich layers to the generation of magnetic dynamos in ice giant interiors.

Source: Metallization of Shock-Compressed Liquid AmmoniaA. Ravasio, M. Bethkenhagen, J.-A. Hernandez, A. Benuzzi-Mounaix, F. Datchi, M. French, M. Guarguaglini, F. Lefevre, S. Ninet, R. Redmer, and T. Vinci. Phys. Rev. Lett. January 13, 2021. Article available on arXiv