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 moment similar to the opposite poles found in a common bar magnet. He also looks at minerals in Earth’s deep interior and of materials that display interesting physical and chemical properties. Other researchers use Cohen’s results as a tool to interpret their observations and to design experiments.

Medical imaging, sonar, semiconductors, and other electronics devices can benefit from understanding ferroelectrics. Ferroelectrics are unusual in that their polarity can exist even in the absence of an electric field, and the direction of the dipole can change when an electric field is applied. These useful substances further exhibit the piezoelectric effect—they can translate mechanical energy into electricity. New piezoelectrics have ten times the coupling between mechanical and electrical energy, and could revolutionize medical ultrasound and naval applications. Cohen investigates the physics underlying their intriguing behavior and uses theory to search for even better substances. 

 

Predicting how minerals behave at extreme pressures and temperatures in Earth’s interior is important to interpreting seismic data and to understanding the structure and dynamics of the planet. Cohen calculates what happens, for example, to iron—the major component of Earth’s core; transition metal oxides such as iron oxide (FeO), and high-pressure silicates such as MgSiO3, perovskite, alumina, and silica phases as pressure increases. Some work hones in on the temperature at Earth’s center through the computed elastic properties of iron compared with seismological data.

Cohen obtained a B.Sc. in geology from Indiana University in 1979 and a Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University in 1985. Before coming to Carnegie as a staff scientist in 1990, he was a research associate at the National Research Council from 1985-1987 and a research physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory from 1987 to 1990. For more see the Cohen lab

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August 30, 2017

Washington, DC— 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 crystalline structure. Their findings are reported in Nature Communications.

Carbon is an element of seemingly infinite possibilities, because the configuration of its electrons allows for numerous self-bonding combinations that give rise to a range of materials with varying properties.

For example, some forms of carbon, such as coal, are what’s called amorphous, meaning that they lack the long-range repetitive structure that makes up a crystal.

Other forms of carbon are

August 1, 2017

The Geophysical Laboratory’s Postdoctoral Associate Zachary Geballe has been honored with Carnegie’s seventh Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence (PIE) Award. These prizes are made through nominations from the departments and are chosen by the Office of the President. Geballe, in Viktor Struzhkin’s lab, was awarded the prize for his scientific innovations and community service to the Broad Branch Road (BBR) campus.

Zack works on developing methods to measure the heat capacities of metals and silicates at high pressures. This work applies to developing new materials and studying the deep interiors of planets.   He developed a pioneering technique to measure heat in a diamond

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, University of Bristol
July 13, 2017

Washington, DC— Experimental petrologist Michael Walter, currently head of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, has been selected as the eighth director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory.  He will begin his directorship on April 1, 2018.  

Walter has been at Bristol since 2004 and began a five-year term as head of school in 2013. He received his PhD in geology and Earth science from the University of Texas, Dallas, and a Bachelor of Science in the same from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Early in his career, Walter was a postdoctoral fellow at the Geophysical Laboratory, so his new role is a homecoming.

Walter’s recent research has focused on

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Tim Strobel
June 9, 2017

Washington, DC— A team including several Carnegie scientists has developed a form of ultrastrong, lightweight carbon that is also elastic and electrically conductive. A material with such a unique combination of properties could serve a wide variety of applications from aerospace engineering to military armor.

Carbon is an element of seemingly infinite possibilities. This is because the configuration of its electrons allows for numerous self-bonding combinations that give rise to a range of materials with varying properties. For example, transparent, superhard diamonds, and opaque graphite, which is used for both pencils and industrial lubricant, are comprised solely of carbon.

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The High Pressure Collaborative Access Team (HPCAT) was established to advance cutting-edge, multidisciplinary, high-pressure science and technology using synchrotron radiation at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

The integrated HPCAT facility has established four operating beamlines in nine hutches An array of novel X-ray diffraction—imaging at tiny scales--and spectroscopic techniques to reveal chemistry,  has been integrated with high pressure and extreme temperature instrumentation.

With a multidisciplinary approach and multi-institution collaborations, the high-pressure program at the HPCAT has enabeld myriad scientific

CDAC is a multisite, interdisciplinary center headquartered at Carnegie to advance and perfect an extensive set of high pressure and temperature techniques and facilities, to perform studies on a broad range of materials in newly accessible pressure and temperature regimes, and to integrate and coordinate static, dynamic and theoretical results. The research objectives include making highly accurate measurements to understand the transitions of materials into different phases under the multimegabar pressure rang; determine the electronic and magnetic properties of solids and fluid to multimegabar pressures and elevated temperatures; to bridge the gap between static and dynamic

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

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.

Guillermo Blanc wants to understand the processes by which galaxies form and evolve over the course of the history of the universe. He studies local galaxies in the “present day” universe as well as very distant and therefore older galaxies to observe the early epochs of galaxy evolution. Blanc conducts a series of research projects on the properties of young and distant galaxies, the large-scale structure of the universe, the nature of Dark Energy—the mysterious repulsive force, the process of star formation at galactic scales, and the measurement of chemical abundances in galaxies.

To conduct this work, he takes a multi-wavelength approach including observations in the UV,

Peter van Keken studies the thermal and chemical evolution of the Earth. In particularly he looks at the causes and consequences of plate tectonics; element modeling of mantle convection,  and the dynamics of subduction zones--locations where one tectonic plate slides under another. He also studies mantle plumes; the integration of geodynamics with seismology; geochemistry and mineral physics. He uses parallel computing and scientific visualization in this work.

He received his BS and Ph D from the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands. Prior to joining Carnegie he was on the faculty of the University of Michigan.

Peter Driscoll studies the evolution of Earth’s core and magnetic field including magnetic pole reversal. Over the last 20 million or so years, the north and south magnetic poles on Earth have reversed about every 200,000, to 300,000 years and is now long overdue. He also investigates the Earth’s inner core structure; core-mantle coupling; tectonic-volatile cycling; orbital migration—how Earth’s orbit moves—and tidal dissipation—the dissipation of tidal forces between two closely orbiting bodies. He is also interested in planetary interiors, dynamos, upper planetary atmospheres and exoplanets—planets orbiting other stars. He uses large-scale numerical simulations in much of his research

Andrew Newman works in several areas in extragalactic astronomy, including the distribution of dark matter--the mysterious, invisible  matter that makes up most of the universe--on galaxies, the evolution of the structure and dynamics of massive early galaxies including dwarf galaxies, ellipticals and cluster. He uses tools such as gravitational lensing, stellar dynamics, and stellar population synthesis from data gathered from the Magellan, Keck, Palomar, and Hubble telescopes.

Newman received his AB in physics and mathematics from the Washington University in St. Louis, and his MS and Ph D in astrophysics from Caltech. Before becomming a staff astronomer in 2015, he was a