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Abstract

The determination of the spin state of iron-bearing compounds at high pressure and temperature is crucial for our understanding of chemical and physical properties of the deep Earth. Studies on the relationship between the coordination of iron and its electronic spin structure in iron-bearing oxides, silicates, carbonates, iron alloys, and other minerals found in the Earth's mantle and core are scarce because of the technical challenges to simultaneously probe the sample at high pressures and temperatures. We used the unique properties of a pulsed and highly brilliant x-ray free electron laser (XFEL) beam at the High Energy Density (HED) instrument of the European XFEL to x-ray heat and probe samples contained in a diamond anvil cell. We heated and probed with the same x-ray pulse train and simultaneously measured x-ray emission and x-ray diffraction of an $FeCO_{3}$ sample at a pressure of 51 GPa with up to melting temperatures. We collected spin state sensitive Fe $Kβ_{1,3}$ fluorescence spectra and detected the sample's structural changes via diffraction, observing the inverse volume collapse across the spin transition. During x-ray heating, the carbonate transforms into orthorhombic $Fe_{4}C_{3}O_{12}$ and iron oxides. Incipient melting was also observed. This approach to collect information about the electronic state and structural changes from samples contained in a diamond anvil cell at melting temperatures and above will considerably improve our understanding of the structure and dynamics of planetary and exoplanetary interiors.

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