Anat Shahar was awarded the Clarke Award of the Geochemical Society. It is awarded to an early-career scientist for " a single outstanding contribution to geochemistry or cosmochemistry,...
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014—New work from Carnegie's Ivan Naumov and Russell Hemley delves into the chemistry underlying some surprising recent observations about hydrogen, and reveals...
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December 12, 2014 Hydrogen is the most-abundant element in the cosmos. With only a single electron per atom, it is deceptively simple. As a result, hydrogen has been a testing ground for theories of...
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Washington, D.C.—Silicon is the second most-abundant element in the earth's crust. When purified, it takes on a diamond structure, which is essential to modern electronic devices—...
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Carbon plays an unparalleled role in our lives: as the element of life, as the basis of most of society’s energy, as the backbone of most new materials, and as the central focus in efforts to...
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Tiny cages hold big promise. Understanding the chemical reactions that can create tiny molecular cages that hold other “guest” molecules—structures called clathrates—is key to...
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Minerals Love Life It was not until recently that scientists even thought about how the mineral kingdom may have changed over time. Traditionally classified by composition, structure, and other...
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Washington, D.C. —A key to understanding Earth’s evolution is to look deep into the lower mantle—a region some 400 to 1,800 miles (660 to 2,900 kilometers) below the surface, just...
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The Geophysical Laboratory has made important advances in the growth of diamond by chemical vapor deposition (CVD).  Methods have been developed to produce single-crystal diamond at low pressure having a broad range of properties.
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Timothy Strobel subjects materials to high-pressures to understand chemical processes  and interactions, and to create new, advanced energy-related materials. For instance, silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and a mainstay of the electronics industry. But...
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Scientists simulate the high pressures and temperatures of planetary interiors to measure their physical properties. Yingwei Fei studies the composition and structure of planetary interiors with high-pressure instrumentation including the multianvil apparatus, the piston cylinder, and the diamond...
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Anat Shahar is pioneering a field that blends isotope geochemistry with high-pressure experiments to examine planetary cores and the Solar System’s formation, prior to planet formation, and how the planets formed and differentiated. Stable isotope geochemistry is the study of how physical and...
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Reservoirs of oxygen-rich iron between the Earth’s core and mantle could have played a major role in Earth’s history, including the breakup of supercontinents, drastic changes in Earth...
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Washington, DC— Did you know that there are at least 17 crystalline forms of ice, many of them formed under extreme pressures, such as those found in the interiors of frozen planets? New work from a...
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Washington, D.C.— Lyman Thomas Aldrich, 95, who worked as a geophysicist and geochemist at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) for 34 years, including a...
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Explore Carnegie Science

Fullerene C60 purchased from Shutterstock
November 24, 2021

Washington, DC—Carnegie’s Yingwei Fei and Lin Wang were part of an international research team that synthesized a new ultrahard form of carbon glass with a wealth of potential practical applications for devices and electronics. It is the hardest known glass with the highest thermal conductivity among all glass materials. Their findings are published in Nature.

Function follows form when it comes to understanding the properties of a material. How its atoms are chemically bonded to each other, and their resulting structural arrangement, determines a material’s physical qualities—both those that are observable by the naked eye and those that are only revealed

Silicon in the periodic table courtesy of Shutterstock
June 3, 2021

Washington, DC—A team led by Carnegie’s Thomas Shiell and Timothy Strobel developed a new method for synthesizing a novel crystalline form of silicon with a hexagonal structure that could potentially be used to create next-generation electronic and energy devices with enhanced properties that exceed those of the “normal” cubic form of silicon used today.

Their work is published in Physical Review Letters.

Silicon plays an outsized role in human life. It is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. When mixed with other elements, it is essential for many construction and infrastructure projects. And in pure elemental form, it is

CLIPPIR diamonds by Robert Weldon, copyright GIA, courtesy Gem Diamonds Ltd.
March 31, 2021

Washington, DC— Diamonds that formed deep in the Earth’s mantle contain evidence of chemical reactions that occurred on the seafloor. Probing these gems can help geoscientists understand how material is exchanged between the planet’s surface and its depths.  

New work published in Science Advances confirms that serpentinite—a rock that forms from peridotite, the main rock type in Earth’s mantle, when water penetrates cracks in the ocean floor—can carry surface water as far as 700 kilometers deep by plate tectonic processes.

“Nearly all tectonic plates that make up the seafloor eventually bend and slide down into the mantle

Stock image of the transition metals section of the periodic table
July 1, 2020

Washington, DC— You’ve heard the expression form follows function? In materials science, function follows form.

New research by Carnegie’s Olivier Gagné and collaborator Frank Hawthorne of the University of Manitoba categorizes the causes of structural asymmetry, some surprising, which underpin useful properties of crystals, including ferroelectricity, photoluminescence, and photovoltaic ability. Their findings are published this week as a lead article in the International Union of Crystallography Journal.

“Understanding how different bond arrangements convey various useful attributes is central to the materials sciences” explained

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The Geophysical Laboratory has made important advances in the growth of diamond by chemical vapor deposition (CVD).  Methods have been developed to produce single-crystal diamond at low pressure having a broad range of properties.

Ronald Cohen primarily studies materials through first principles research—computational methods that begin with the most fundamental properties of a system, such as the nuclear charges of atoms, and then calculate what happens to a material under different conditions, such as pressure and temperature. He particularly focuses on properties of materials under extreme conditions such as high pressure and high temperature. This research applies to various topics and problems in geophysics and technological materials.

Some of his work focuses on understanding the behavior of high-technology materials called ferroelectrics—non-conducting crystals with an electric dipole

Alexander F. Goncharov's analyzes materials under extreme conditions such as high pressure and temperature using optical spectroscopy and other techniques to understand how matter fundamentally changes, the chemical processes occurring deep within planets, including Earth, and to understand and develop new materials with potential applications to energy.

In one area Goncharov is pursuing the holy grail of materials science, whether hydrogen can exist in an electrically conducting  metallic state as predicted by theory. He is also interested in understanding the different phases materials undergo as they transition under different pressure and temperature conditions to

Experimental petrologist Michael Walter became director of the Geophysical Laboratory beginning April 1, 2018. The lab recently merged with the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism  forming the Earth and Planets Laboratory, where he is deputy director. His recent research has focused on the period early in Earth’s history, shortly after the planet accreted from the cloud of gas and dust surrounding our young Sun, when the mantle and the core first separated into distinct layers. Current topics of investigation also include the structure and properties of various compounds under the extreme pressures and temperatures found deep inside the planet, and information about

Scientists simulate the high pressures and temperatures of planetary interiors to measure their physical properties. Yingwei Fei studies the composition and structure of planetary interiors with high-pressure instrumentation including the multianvil apparatus, the piston cylinder, and the diamond anvil cell. 

The Earth was formed through energetic and dynamic processes. Giant impacts, radioactive elements, and gravitational energy heated the  planet in its early stage, melting materials and paving the way for the silicate mantle and metallic core to separate.  As the planet cooled and solidified geochemical and geophysical “fingerprints” resulted from