The Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments Center (EFree) was established to accelerate the discovery and synthesis of kinetically stabilized, energy-related materials using extreme conditions. Partners in this Carnegie-led center include world-leading groups in five universities—Caltech, Cornell, Penn State, Lehigh, and Colorado School of Mines—and will use facilities built and managed by the Geophysical Laboratory at Argonne, Brookhaven, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. Nine Geophysical Laboratory scientists will participate in the effort, along with Russell Hemley as director and Tim Strobel as associate director.
To achieve their goal, EFree personnel synthesize fundamentally new materials and exploit them for energy science by understanding kinetically stabilized routes to bring the materials back to ambient pressure. Researchers focus on studying, manipulating and ultimately controlling materials in regimes outside their environments of thermodynamic stability using new methodological approaches by treating recoverable high-pressure compounds as precursors for subsequent ambient-pressure manipulation. They also use pressure to mediate kinetically controlled synthesis of new materials in the solid state via engineered alternative reaction pathways. In many systems, these pathways lead to other new materials that can be stabilized by exploiting the kinetic limits of reaction rates. Finally, researchers use other methods to enhance the ambient-pressure stability of materials that have exceptional high-pressure energy transport properties.