Silica glass has been shown in numerous studies to possess significant capacity for permanent densification under pressure at different temperatures to form high density amorphous (HDA) silica. However, it is unknown to what extent the processes leading to irreversible densification of silica glass in cold-compression at room temperature and in hot-compression (e.g., near glass transition temperature) are common in nature. In this work, a hot-compression technique was used to quench silica glass from high temperature (1100 °C) and high pressure (up to 8 GPa) conditions, which leads to density increase of ∼25% and Young's modulus increase of ∼71% relative to that of pristine silica glass at ambient conditions. Our experiments and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations provide solid evidences that the intermediate-range order of the hot-compressed HDA silica is distinct from that of the counterpart cold-compressed at room temperature. This explains the much higher thermal and mechanical stability of the former than the latter upon heating and compression as revealed in our in-situ Brillouin light scattering (BLS) experiments. Our studies demonstrate the limitation of the resulting density as a structural indicator of polyamorphism, and point out the importance of temperature during compression in order to fundamentally understand HDA silica.
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