Washington, DC— Using laboratory techniques to mimic the conditions found deep inside the Earth, a team of Carnegie scientists led by Ho-Kwang “Dave” Mao has identified a form of...
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Washington, DC— Earth's magnetic field shields us from deadly cosmic radiation, and without it, life as we know it could not exist here. The motion of liquid iron in the planet’s...
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Washington, DC—New work from a research team led by Carnegie’s Anat Shahar contains some unexpected findings about iron chemistry under high-pressure conditions, such as those likely...
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Washington, DC—If you freeze any liquid fast enough, even liquid metal, it becomes a glass. Vitrified metals, or metallic glasses, are at the frontier of materials science research. They have...
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We are missing aat least 145 carbon-bearing minerals and you can help find them. Smithsonian Magazine covers the Carbon Mineral Challenge, launched by Robert Hazen and Daniel Hummer at The American...
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Washington, DC— As astronomers continue finding new rocky planets around distant stars, high-pressure physicists are considering what the interiors of those planets might be like and how their...
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Washington, DC—Colossal magnetoresistance is a property with practical applications in a wide array of electronic tools including magnetic sensors and magnetic RAM. New research from a team...
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Alexander Goncharov's experiment on noble gases could give new insight into the interiors of gas giant planets says Scientific American....
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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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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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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...
Meet this Scientist
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...
Meet this Scientist
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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 the chemical bond...
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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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Although helium is the second most-abundant element (after hydrogen) in the universe, it doesn’t play well with others. It is a member of a family of seven elements called the noble gases,...
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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.

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

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

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

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 was Deputy Director until January 2022, when he became 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