About the Geophysical Laboratory

The Geophysical Laboratory was established in 1905 to investigate the processes that control the composition and structure of the Earth as it was known at the time, including developing the underlying physics and chemistry and creating the experimental tools required for the task. Over a century later, this core mission has expanded to include the physics, chemistry, and biology of the Earth over the entire range of conditions our planet has experienced since its formation, as well as parallel studies of other planets of this and other solar systems from their surfaces to their cores.

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Piezoelectric materials are a class of smart materials that can convert electrical energy to mechanical energy and vice versa. Developing new piezoelectrics for novel electromechanical device applications has been a long-lasting interest, both scientifically and technologically. Nearly all known piezoelectrics possess positive longitudinal piezoelectric coefficients: the lattice expands when applying an electric field along the polar axis. The negative response, a material contracting in response to an applied electric field, has been considered a rare and counterintuitive anomaly.  However, there is no fundamental physics preventing the realization of negative response. In the work recently published in Physical Review Letters, the Geophysical Laboratory's Shi Liu and Ron Cohen showed that the negative response is not so rare after all.


The AGU Fall Meeting 2017 will take place in New Orleans, LA from December 11-15.  Many staff members and postdoctoral associates from the Geophysical Laboratory will attend this year.  

Check here daily for live updates on each day's science presentations; or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. For a live stream of conference photos, click here or follow along below!

High Pressure

Washington, DC— Reservoirs of oxygen-rich iron between the Earth’s core and mantle could have played a major role in Earth’s history, including the breakup of supercontinents, drastic changes in Earth’s atmospheric makeup, and the creation of life, according to recent work from an international research team published in National Science Review.

High Pressure

Washington, DC— New research by GL's Dave Mao on oxygen and iron chemistry under the extreme conditions found deep inside the Earth could explain a longstanding seismic mystery called ultralow velocity zones. Published in Nature, the findings could have far-reaching implications on our understanding of Earth’s geologic history, including life-altering events such as the Great Oxygenation Event, which occurred 2.4 billion years ago.


The Geophysical Laboratory and DTM went head-to-head on October 27, 2017 for the annual interdepartmental soccer match. Although a well fought match, GL had to give up their two-year reign as champions to our sister department, DTM.

Upcoming Events

High Pressure
Jan 16, 2018
11:00 AM

The Geophysical Laboratory's weekly seminar series continues with Ross Hrubiak, who comes from our HPCAT location. He will present, "Experimental evidence of a body centered cubic iron at the Earth’s core condition."

Event Host: Tim Strobel
Jan 29, 2018
2:45 PM

The Geophysical Laboratory's weekly seminar series continues with Stefano Poli of the University of Milan. He will present, "Carbonatites at subduction zones: experimental modelling and a case history from the Northern Andes."

Event Host: Bjorn Mysen