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The microscopic mechanism of bulk melting of ice.

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We study the initial stages of homogeneous melting of a hexagonal ice crystal at coexistence and at moderate superheating. Our trajectory-based computer simulation approach provides a comprehensive picture of the events that lead to melting, from the initial accumulation of 5+7 defects, via the formation of L-D and interstitial-vacancy pairs, to the formation of a liquid nucleus. Of the different types of defects that we observe to be involved in melting, a particular kind of 5+7 type defect (type 5) plays a prominent role as it often forms prior to the formation of the initial liquid nucleus and close to the site where the nucleus forms. Hence, like other solids, ice homogeneously melts via the prior accumulation of defects.

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