#Precise measurement of liquid iron density under extreme conditions

#Precise measurement of liquid iron density under extreme conditions

Precise measurement of liquid iron density under extreme conditions
A metal sample is placed inside a rhenium gasket with thermal insulators, squeezed between two diamonds to generate high pressure, and heated with a near-infrared laser. Density measurements under such high-pressure and high-temperature conditions are made by irradiating the sample with x-ray beams. Credit: Assistant Professor Yoichi Nakajima

The current work improves upon these measurements by using the high-intensity X-ray at the SPring-8 facility to measure the X-ray diffraction of liquid iron under ultra-high pressures and high temperatures, and applies a novel analytical method to calculate the liquid density. Additionally, the sound speed profile of the liquid was measured under extreme conditions up to 450,000 atm. Data was collected at various temperatures and pressures then combined with previous shock-wave data to calculate density for conditions over the entire Earth’s core.
Currently, the best way to estimate the density of the Earth’s outer core is from seismic observations. Comparing the outer core density to the experimental measurements in this study finds that pure iron is about 8% more dense than that of the Earth’s outer core. Oxygen, which has been regarded as a major impurity in the past, cannot explain the density difference, suggesting the presence of other light elements. This revelation is a big step towards estimating the chemical composition of the core—a first-class problem in Earth Science.
“Worldwide, many attempts to measure the density, speed of sound, and structure of liquids under ultrahigh pressures using laser-heated diamond cells have been made for over 30 years, but none have been successful so far,” said Dr. Yoichi Nakajima, one of the main members of the research collaboration. “We expect that the technological innovations achieved in this study will dramatically accelerate research on liquids under high pressures. Eventually, we believe that this will deepen our understanding of the liquid metallic core and magma deep within the Earth and other rocky planets.”

More information:
Yasuhiro Kuwayama et al, Equation of State of Liquid Iron under Extreme Conditions, Physical Review Letters (2020). DOI: 10.1103/physrevlett.124.165701

Precise measurement of liquid iron density under extreme conditions (2020, June 26)
retrieved 26 June 2020

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