Reactions of xenon with iron and nickel are predicted in the Earth's inner core

Li Zhu, Hanyu Liu, Chris J. Pickard, Guangtian Zou, Yanming Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

341 Scopus citations


Studies of the Earth's atmosphere have shown that more than 90% of the expected amount of Xe is depleted, a finding often referred to as the 'missing Xe paradox'. Although several models for a Xe reservoir have been proposed, whether the missing Xe could be contained in the Earth's inner core has not yet been answered. The key to addressing this issue lies in the reactivity of Xe with Fe/Ni, the main constituents of the Earth's core. Here, we predict, through first-principles calculations and unbiased structure searching techniques, a chemical reaction of Xe with Fe/Ni at the temperatures and pressures found in the Earth's core. We find that, under these conditions, Xe and Fe/Ni can form intermetallic compounds, of which XeFe3 and XeNi3 are energetically the most stable. This shows that the Earth's inner core is a natural reservoir for Xe storage and provides a solution to the missing Xe paradox.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-648
Number of pages5
JournalNature Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Reactions of xenon with iron and nickel are predicted in the Earth's inner core'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this