High-Pressure Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Petrology
Studies of the Earth's deep interior present us with a rich array of large-scale processes and phenomena that are not fully understood. Resolving these questions requires a focused study on iron which is the most abundant element in Earth, and plays a key role in processes from the crust to the core. For the metallic core, I have working on a series of experiments to test and explore various hypotheses and constraints on the alloy compositions, phase relations, elasticity, and rheology of iron.
Nuclear materials, such as those used in nuclear reactors and waste forms, are subjected to extreme environments on long timescales. Nuclear reactors need to operate safely for decades, and next generation reactors will only require even more durable materials than those currently in use. Nuclear waste, which currently has no long term disposal plan in the United States, is required to be safely isolated for one million years. Designing and testing materials used for waste packaging is critical to the overall goal of safe storage.
The focus of our research is on fundamental issues of structure and dynamics in crystalline, glassy, and liquid silicates and oxides, and on glass-forming liquids in general. Our goal is to relate experimental measurements of atomic-scale processes to macroscopic properties of interest to the earth sciences (including mineralogy, igneous and metamorphic petrology, volcanology and geochemistry), materials sciences, and physical chemistry.