While ammonia and water readily form hydrogen-bonded molecular mixtures at ambient conditions, their miscibility under pressure is not well understood, yet crucial to model the interior of icy planets. We report here on the behavior of ammonia-water mixtures under extreme pressure conditions, based on first-principles calculations of 15 stoichiometries in the pressure range of 1 atm–10 Mbar. We show that compression facilitates proton transfer from water to ammonia in all relevant mixtures. This favors ammonia-rich hydrates above 1 Mbar, stabilized by complete de-protonation of water and the formation of the unusual structural motifs O2(NH4+)2 and O2(N2H7+)2. The hydronitrogen cations persist to the highest pressures studied. We predict a new ammonia-rich 4:1-hydrate at intermediate pressures and find that by 5.5 Mbar, close to the core-mantle boundary of Neptune, all cold ammonia-water mixtures are unstable against decomposition into their constituents.

Supplementary Material

You do not currently have access to this content.