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Press release | Scientific result | Synchrotron
The noble gases, also called rare gases, such as xenon, are the most inert atomic group, but can become reactive under extreme conditions. An international team of scientists used a combination of several synchrotron techniques and ab initio1 modelling to investigate a possible direct reaction between xenon and oxygen at high pressure. They managed to synthesise two oxides under high pressure. This demonstrates that xenon is reactive at pressures relevant to the Earth’s interior. This study, published in Nature Chemistry, could help to resolve the so-called “missing xenon paradox” by providing evidence for a possible storage of this element in the deep Earth planet.
Noble gases are characterised by their high chemical stability. The high school paradigm in chemistry classes states that “nothing can force a noble gas atom into chemical bonding”. This inertness is used in geochemistry, where the quantities of noble gases contained in the Earth’s different layers is used to build models of the evolution of the deep Earth and atmosphere.
Synthesis and stability of xenon oxides Xe2O5 and Xe3O2 under pressure, A. Dewaele (a), N. Worth (b), C. J. Pickard (c,d,e), R. J. Needs (b), S. Pascarelli (f), O. Mathon (f), M. Mezouar (f) and T. Irifune (g,h), Nature Chem. 30 May 2016
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.