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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News

High Pressure

Washington, DCIn Earth’s interior, water (H2O) plays an important role in rock physics, but geoscientists rarely treat water in its constituent forms, that is as hydrogen plus oxygen. New work from a team led by the Geophysical Laboratory's Dave Mao has identified that hydrogen can escape from the water under conditions found in Earth’s lower mantle leading to a new paradigm in lower mantle chemistry. Their results were published in Proceeding of the National Academic Science, U.S.A.

High Pressure

Washington, DC— 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, which are called that because of their chemical aloofness—they don’t easily form compounds with other elements. Helium, widely believed to be the most inert element, has no stable compounds under normal conditions. 

Now, an international team of researchers including the Geophysical Laboratory's Alex Goncharov and led by Skoltech’s Artem R. Oganov (also a professor at Stony Brook University and head of Computational Materials Discovery laboratory at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) has predicted two stable helium compounds—Na₂He and Na₂He O.

High Pressure

Washington, DCPhase transitions surround us—for instance, liquid water changes to ice when frozen and to steam when boiled. Now, researchers at the Geophysical Laboratory have discovered a new phenomenon of so-called metastability in a liquid phase. A metastable liquid is not quite stable. This state is common in supercooled liquids, which are liquids that cool below the freezing point without turning into a solid or a crystal. Now, scientists report the first experimental evidence of creating a metastable liquid directly by the opposite approach: melting a high-pressure solid crystal of the metal bismuth via a decompression process below its melting point.     

High Pressure

Yingwei Fei, a high-pressure experimentalist at the Geophysical Laboratory, and Peter Driscoll, a theoretical geophysicist at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, have been awarded a Carnegie Science Venture Grant for their project “Direct Shock Compression of Pre-synthesized Mantle Mineral to Super-Earth Interior Conditions.”

Materials

Washington, DC—Germanium may not be a household name like silicon, its group-mate on the periodic table, but it has great potential for use in next-generation electronics and energy technology.

Of particular interest are forms of germanium that can be synthesized in the lab under extreme pressure conditions. However, one of the most-promising forms of germanium for practical applications, called ST12, has only been created in tiny sample sizes—too small to definitively confirm its properties.

Upcoming Events

Geochemistry
Feb 27, 2017
11:00 AM

The Geophysical Laboratory's weekly seminar series continues with Emily Chin from Scripps. She will present, "From arcs to continents: a deep lithosphere perspective."

Event Host: Anat Shahar