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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Washington, D.C.— Hydrogen—the most abundant element in the cosmos—responds to extremes of pressure and temperature differently. Under ambient conditions hydrogen is a gaseous two-atom molecule. As...
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Washington, D.C.— A team including Carnegie’s Malcolm Guthrie and George Cody has, for the first time, discovered how to produce ultra-thin "diamond nanothreads" that promise extraordinary properties...
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Washington, D.C.— Gallium arsenide, GaAs, a semiconductor composed of gallium and arsenic is well known to have physical properties that promise practical applications. In the form of nanowires and...
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China has halted exports to Japan of rare earth elements — which are crucial for advanced manufacturing — trading company officials said Friday amid tensions between the rival Asian...
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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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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...
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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...
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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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When considering the synthesis of new structures, some of the possible spatial configurations of atoms are energetically favorable—meaning they are easy to maintain—and others are more...
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Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory dedicated two and a half days this week to celebrating the legacy and vision of Marilyn Fogel, who spent 33 years there, doing groundbreaking research and...
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A team of Carnegie high-pressure physicists have created a form of carbon that’s hard as diamond, but amorphous, meaning it lacks the large-scale structural repetition of a diamond’s...
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Explore Carnegie Science

April 15, 2020

Washington, DC— Carnegie mineralogist Robert Hazen was inducted last month as a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences—the nation’s highest-level scientific society, originally founded by Peter the Great. This is a rare honor for an American researcher.

The ceremony, originally scheduled for the end of March, was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Staff Scientist at Carnegie’s Earth and Planets Laboratory, Hazen pioneered the concept of mineral evolution—linking an explosion in mineral diversity to the rise of life on Earth—and developed  the idea of mineral ecology—which analyzes the spatial distribution of the

Carbon-boron clathrate cage with strontium inside, courtesy Tim Strobel
January 10, 2020

Washington, DC— A long-sought-after class of “superdiamond” carbon-based materials with tunable mechanical and electronic properties was predicted and synthesized by Carnegie’s Li Zhu and Timothy Strobel. Their work is published by Science Advances.

Carbon is the fourth-most-abundant element in the universe and is fundamental to life as we know it. It is unrivaled in its ability to form stable structures, both alone and with other elements.

A material’s properties are determined by how its atoms are bonded and the structural arrangements that these bonds create. For carbon-based materials, the type of bonding makes the difference between the

December 16, 2019

Washington, DC— Every school child learns about the water cycle—evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. But what if there were a deep Earth component of this process happening on geologic timescales that makes our planet ideal for sustaining life as we know it?

New work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Carnegie’s Yanhao Lin and Michael Walter—along with former Carnegie scientists and ongoing collaborators Ho-Kwang “Dave” Mao and Qingyang Hu of the Center for High Pressure Science and Technology Advanced Research Shanghai and Yue Meng of Argonne National Laboratory—demonstrates that a key

Artist's conception of lead selenide under pressure courtesy of Xiao-Jia Chen.
October 7, 2019

Washington, DC— Pressure improves the ability of materials to turn heat into electricity and could potentially be used to create clean generators, according to new work from a team that includes Carnegie’s Alexander Goncharov and Viktor Struzhkin published in Nature Materials.

Alternative energy sources are key to combating climate change caused by carbon emissions. Compounds with thermoelectric capabilities can convert thermal energy’s innate, physical need to spread from a hot place into a cold place into energy—harvesting electricity from the temperature differential. In theory, generators built from these materials could be used to recover electricity

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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.

Experimental petrologist Michael Walter became director of the Geophysical Laboratory beginning April 1, 2018. 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 the pressure, temperature, and chemical conditions of the mantle that can be gleaned from mineral impurities preserved inside diamonds.


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 normal silicon is not optimal for solar energy. In its conventional crystalline form, silicon is relatively inefficient at absorbing the wavelengths most prevalent in sunlight.  Strobel made a discovery that may turn things around.  Using the high-pressure techniques pioneered at Carnegie, he created a novel form of silicon with its atoms arranged in a cage-like structure. Unlike

Sally June Tracy applies cutting-edge experimental and analytical techniques to understand the fundamental physical behavior of materials at extreme conditions. She uses dynamic compression techniques with high-flux X-ray sources to probe the structural changes and phase transitions in materials at conditions that mimic impacts and the interiors of terrestrial and exoplanets. She is also an expert in nuclear resonant scattering and synchrotron X-ray diffraction. She uses these techniques to understand novel behavior at the electronic level.  Tracy received her Ph.D. from the California Institute of

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 chemical processes can cause isotopes—atoms of an element with different numbers of neutrons-- to separate (called isotopic fractionation). Experimental petrology is a lab-based approach to increasing the pressure and temperature of materials to simulate conditions in the interior Earth or other planetary bodies.

Rocks and meteorites consist of isotopes that contain chemical