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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P024513/1
Title: Frontier Experiments in Dynamic Extreme Conditions: The Case for Light Elements
Principal Investigator: McWilliams, Dr R S
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 May 2017 Ends: 30 April 2020 Value (£): 101,214
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fusion Light-Matter Interactions
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy R&D
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Mar 2017 EPSRC Physical Sciences - March 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Nations, research councils, and multinational consortia are investing heavily in the study of matter under conditions of extreme energy density. Large laboratories with powerful optical lasers, free-electron x-ray lasers, and pulsed electrical power have rapidly expanded the extremes of pressure and temperature accessible in materials, exploring natural wonders such as exoplanets' deep interiors, pursuing new technologies such as controlled fusion, and probing the fundamental behaviour of matter at extremes. However, such facilities are rare and access often exclusive, limiting growth in this 21st century physics frontier. This project proposes to develop and apply novel table-top approaches to creating states of matter previously synthesised only in stadium-sized laboratories, or which have never before been synthesised. Using a novel combination of traditional approaches, this work will revolutionise access to extreme conditions, particularly for light elemental materials such as water and hydrogen, for which the challenge of achieving and studying extreme conditions has been particularly pronounced. At the same time, the high-pressure and high-temperature behaviour of light elements and the materials they comprise are critically important in extreme systems ranging from inertial confinement fusion reactors to giant planets and stars. Light elements also comprise archetypal physical systems ranging from the hydrogen molecule, to water, to the basic molecular building blocks of life. Many of the most fundamental questions about the behaviour of such materials lie at extreme conditions, as do many of the most practical ones. This study will overcome existing limitations in studying light elements at extremes using a handheld instrument - the diamond anvil cell - to compress samples to high density, followed by rapid heating and probing by modern optical and x-ray methods. Inexpensive and based on a widely-used instrument, the techniques developed will extend access to very extreme states in light elemental materials to the large scientific community interested in extreme conditions research.
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