Silica (SiO2), as a raw material of silicon, glass, ceramics, abrasive, and refractory substances, etc., is of significant importance in industrial applications and fundamental research such as electronics and planetary science. Here, using a crystal structure searching method and first-principles calculations, we predicted that a ground state crystalline phase of silica with R3¯ symmetry is stable at around 645-890 GPa, which contains six-, eight-, and nine-coordinated silicon atoms and results in an average coordination number of eight. This mixed-coordination silica fills in the density, electronic band gap, and coordination number gaps between the previously known sixfold pyrite-type and ninefold Fe2P-type phases, and may appear in the core or mantle of super-Earth exoplanets, or even the solar giant planets such as the Neptune. In addition, we also found that some silicon superoxides, Cmcm SiO3 and Ccce SiO6, are stable in this pressure range and may appear in an oxygen-rich environment. Our finding enriches the high-pressure phase diagram of silicon oxides and improves understanding of the interior structure of giant planets in our solar system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)