Cooperative diffusion in body-centered cubic iron in Earth and super- Earths' inner core conditions

M Ghosh and S Zhang and LM Hu and SX Hu, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER, 35, 154002 (2023).

DOI: 10.1088/1361-648X/acba71

The physical chemistry of iron at the inner-core conditions is key to understanding the evolution and habitability of Earth and super-Earth planets. Based on full first-principles simulations, we report cooperative diffusion along the longitudinally fast & lang;111 & rang; directions of body-centered cubic (bcc) iron in temperature ranges of up to 2000-4000 K below melting and pressures of similar to 300-4000 GPa. The diffusion is due to the low energy barrier in the corresponding direction and is accompanied by mechanical and dynamical stability, as well as strong elastic anisotropy of bcc iron. These findings provide a possible explanation for seismological signatures of the Earth's inner core, particularly the positive correlation between P wave velocity and attenuation. The diffusion can also change the detailed mechanism of core convection by increasing the diffusivity and electrical conductivity and lowering the viscosity. The results need to be considered in future geophysical and planetary models and should motivate future studies of materials under extreme conditions.

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