Ice-seven (ice VII)
 is formed from liquid water above 3 GPa by lowering its temperature
to ambient temperatures (see Phase Diagram).
It can be obtained at low temperature and ambient pressure
by decompressing (D2O) ice-six below 95 K and is metastable over a wide range of pressure,
transforming into LDA above 120 K .
Note that in this structural diagram
the hydrogen bonding is ordered whereas in reality it
is random (obeying the 'ice rules': two hydrogen atoms
near each oxygen, one hydrogen atom on each O····O
bond). As the H-O-H angle does not vary much from that
of the isolated molecule, the hydrogen bonds are not straight
(although shown so in the figures).
The Ice VII unit cell, which forms cubic crystal
(, 224; Laue class symmetry m-3m) consists of two interpenetrating cubic
ice lattices with hydrogen bonds passing through
the center of the water hexamers and no connecting hydrogen-bonds
between lattices. It has a density of about 1.65 g cm-3 (at 2.5 GPa and 25 °C ),
which is less than twice the cubic ice density as the
intra-network O····O distances
are 8% longer (at 0.1 MPa) to allow for the interpenetration.
The cubic crystal (shown opposite) has cell dimensions
3.3501 Å (a, b, c, 90º, 90º, 90º;
D2O, at 2.6 GPa and 22 °C )
and contains two water molecules.
All molecules experience identical molecular
environments. The hydrogen bonding is disordered and
constantly changing as in hexagonal ice but ice-seven
undergoes a proton disorder-order transition to ice-eight at about 5 °C; ice-seven and ice-eight having identical
structures apart from the proton ordering. Ice-seven
is metastable indefinitely at 77 K.
If the pressure is increased above about 14 GPa there are changes in the proton ordering [1428
]. This is shown in the phase diagram
and gives rise to a loss of the cubic symmetry. This is thought due to some ionization with some hydrogen ions occupying the octahedral cavities, eventually rising at greater than 30 GPa to plateau at one interstitial occupancy to every two water molecules [2027
]; this is equivalent to two of each six positions (as shown below right) being occupied. These interstial protons cannot form normal hydrogen bonds with the H2
O oxygen atoms. At higher pressures, ice-seven undergo a
continuous transition into cubic ice-ten
) where most hydrogen atoms are situated midway between the oxygen atoms. The size of the ice crystal (two molar volumes per unit cell) continuously reduces over this large change in pressure with no obvious volume steps at the expected ice transitions [1943
Shown opposite is a cartoon of ice-seven showing the octahedral interstitial cavities (shown as blue spheres a-f). The water molecules are shown with the positions of their four possible hydrogen atoms, although only two, or less, would be occupied obeying the 'ice rules'. Any interstitial hydrogen atoms (shown here labelled a-f) sit in the six octahedral cavities and are centered on the body-centered cubic square faces (as examples, octahedral cavity (a, shown gray) is made from the water molecules 1, 2, 3, 4, 9 and 10 and sits in the square face made from the water molecules 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the body-centered cube centered on water molecule 9; cavity (e) is formed from the water molecules 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 14 and in the square face made from the water molecules 1, 4, 5 and 8 of the body-centered cube.; and cavity (f) is formed from the water molecules 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 13 and in the square face made from the water molecules 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the body-centered cube).
In contrast to ice Ih,
high density ices may incorporate some solutes into their
crystal structure. Ice-seven may incorporate up to ~7.5 wt
% NaCl into the octahedral cavities (face centered positions of its body centered
cubic structure, described above right) at high pressure (for example, 4-21 GPa)
this incorporation causes a reduction in the unit cell dimensions
and a greater than expected increase in density .
Ice-seven has known triple points with ice-six
and ice-eight (5 °C, 2.1 GPa), ice-eight and ice-ten (100
K, 62 GPa) and liquid water and ice-six (355 K, 2.216 GPa).
Interestingly, at high pressures (~ 2.3 GPa), liquid water
can be made to freeze at over 100 °C (to give the more
dense ice-seven). The dielectric constant of ice-seven is
Interactive Jmol structures are given.