Washington, D.C.—Hydrocarbons from the Earth make up the oil and gas that heat our homes and fuel our cars. The study of the various phases of molecules formed from carbon and hydrogen under high...
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Washington, D.C—The key to understanding Earth’s evolution is to look at how heat is conducted in the deep lower mantle—a region some 400 to 1,800 miles (660 to 2,900 kilometers) below the surface....
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Washington, D.C.— Hydrogen is deceptively simple. It has only a single electron per atom, but it powers the sun and forms the majority of the observed universe. As such, it is naturally exposed to...
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Washington, D.C.—Superconductivity is a rare physical state in which matter is able to conduct electricity—maintain a flow of electrons—without any resistance. This phenomenon can only be found in...
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Washington, D.C.—Using revolutionary new techniques, a team led by Carnegie’s Malcolm Guthrie has made a striking discovery about how ice behaves under pressure, changing ideas that date back almost...
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Washington, D.C.—Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. The way it responds under extreme pressures and temperatures is crucial to our understanding of matter and the nature of...
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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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Washington, D.C.— A team of researchers has made a major breakthrough in measuring the structure of nanomaterials under extremely high pressures. For the first time, they developed a way to get...
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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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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...
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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...
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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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Explore Carnegie Science

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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