The apparatuses in our lab create extreme pressure and temperature conditions. Under these conditions, materials undergo unique changes that alter their atomic structure — forming entirely new materials — or alter their properties, unlocking new uses.
These extreme conditions also mimic the interiors of planets. Our facility allows scientists to gain a deeper understanding of how our own planet works and explore the solar system and beyond.
FORCE equipment can experiment with large high-pressure samples, yielding practical insights for application and industry scale as well as filling a critical gap in U.S. research and development.
Materials research at high temperature and pressure is important to national security. Through this work, scientists can find and improve new materials and processes that will advance our technology.
Extreme conditions reveal new physical properties of materials. In turn, these properties can fulfill critical technological needs. Pressure studies, for example, allowed scientists to develop more efficient superconductors that can work at room temperature.
Extreme conditions also reveal entirely new materials with valuable electrical, optical and mechanical properties. Graphite is widely known as the cheap core of a No. 2 pencil, but under high pressure and temperature, it becomes diamond, a much stronger material with key applications for technology and a high market value.
Additionally, this research can expose factors that affect the stability of materials used in crucial everyday technologies like batteries or wind turbines.
Humans have managed to physically survey only a tiny fraction of the nearly 1,800 miles between Earth’s surface and its core. The interior remains largely unexplored, and this is a top research priority, because the activity deep within affects the water, air and surface behavior of our planet. Understanding the way Earth’s interior works also leads to valuable insights into its climate history and habitability.
Additionally, scientists have discovered extreme environments in many of our solar system’s planetary bodies as well as a host of exoplanets outside our system.
Understanding both Earth and its context in the cosmos means we need more experiments under a range of extreme conditions. The equipment at FORCE allows researchers to explore otherwise inaccessible places by recreating different environments found throughout the universe.