Washington, DC—The Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory has been selected as one of 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) by the U.S. Department of Energy. The announcement came from the White House yesterday in tandem with a speech by President Barack Obama at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. The five-year, $15.0 million award will establish the Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments center (EFree) at the Geophysical lab. The selection was based on the lab’s long legacy of research into materials under extreme pressure and temperature environments.

The 46 awards were selected from 260 applications. Of the awards, 31 went to universities; 12 to DOE national laboratories; 1 to corporate research labs; Carnegie is one of two non-profit organizations receiving the award. Selection was based on a rigorous merit review process using outside panels composed of scientific experts. 

“The Geophysical Lab is known around the world as a center of excellence in this field,” remarked Carnegie president Richard Meserve. “We are proud that our researchers have been selected to help advance our nation’s energy-related research.”

“As global energy demand grows over this century, there is an urgent need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and imported oil and curtail greenhouse gas emissions,” said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “Meeting this challenge will require significant scientific advances. These centers will mobilize the enormous talents and skills of our nation’s scientific workforce in pursuit of the breakthroughs that are essential to make alternative and renewable energy truly viable as large-scale replacements for fossil fuels.”

The Geophysical Lab will manage an unprecedented alliance of 35 senior, key people from Carnegie, national labs, and universities for this research. “The center will strengthen high-pressure materials research programs at the Advanced Photon Source (at Argonne National Laboratory) through the Carnegie-run HPSynC facility, as well as at the Spallation Neutron Source (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) at the recently completed beamline that the Carnegie team helped design and construct,” said Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao, director of EFree.

“The creation of EFree will allow us to expand our fundamental studies of materials under extreme conditions while at the same time focus our research on major problems needed to address major energy challenges facing the nation and the world. These problems include using high pressures and temperatures to make new materials and create materials that can withstand extreme conditions. These materials include new classes of superconductors, superhard materials, high-energy density and hydrogen storage materials, new ferroelectrics and magnetic systems, and materials that resist chemical changes under extreme conditions, said Russell Hemley, director of the Geophysical Lab and associate director of EFree.


For more information about the centers see http://www.sc.doe.gov/bes/EFRC.html  For more information about Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory see http://www.gl.ciw.edu/