The phase diagram of water at high pressures as obtained by computer simulations of the TIP4P/2005 model: the appearance of a plastic crystal phase

Juan Luis Aragones, Maria M. Conde, Eva G. Noya and Carlos Vega

In this work the high pressure region of the phase diagram of water has been studied by computer simulation by using the TIP4P/2005 model of water. Free energy calculations were performed for ices VII and VIII and for the fluid phase to determine the melting curve of these ices. In addition, molecular dynamics simulations were performed at high temperatures (440 K) observing the spontaneous freezing of the liquid into a solid phase at pressures of about 80 000 bar. The analysis of the structure obtained lead to the conclusion that a plastic crystal phase was formed. In the plastic crystal phase the oxygen atoms were arranged forming a body center cubic structure, as in ice VII, but the water molecules were able to rotate almost freely. Free energy calculations were performed for this new phase, and it was found that for TIP4P/2005 this plastic crystal phase is thermodynamically stable with respect to ices VII and VIII for temperatures higher than about 400 K, although the precise value depends on the pressure. By using Gibbs–Duhem simulations, all coexistence lines were determined, and the phase diagram of the TIP4P/2005 model was obtained, including ices VIII and VII and the new plastic crystal phase. The TIP4P/2005 model is able to describe qualitatively the phase diagram of water. It would be of interest to study if such a plastic crystal phase does indeed exist for real water. The nearly spherical shape of water makes possible the formation of a plastic crystal phase at high temperatures. The formation of a plastic crystal phase at high temperatures (with a bcc arrangements of oxygen atoms) is fast from a kinetic point of view occurring in about 2 ns. This is in contrast to the nucleation of ice Ih which requires simulations of the order of hundreds of ns.