Numerous valuable materials, including gems and hydrocarbons, originate deep within the Earth where extreme pressures and temperatures prevail. Many of these materials exist as meta-stable compounds, retaining their composition under ambient conditions and releasing stored energy when stimulated. Utilizing the potent method of high-pressure synthesis within a Diamond Anvil Cell (DAC), we can create materials that naturally form under high pressure but remain stable when pressure is released, even under normal conditions.
In this project, we will focus on the synthesis of molecular systems composed of lithium-based and carbon-based compounds. These compounds have been theoretically predicted to emerge under high-pressure conditions and exhibit properties ideal for energy transport and storage, such as superconductivity, meta-stability, and hydrogen storage.
Our project objectives encompass:
i) The synthesis of a high-temperature superconductor using low atomic number (Z) components, as suggested by theoretical models.
ii) The synthesis of compounds with properties conducive to energy storage.
To achieve these goals, we will generate the high pressures required for synthesis within a DAC, subjecting the samples to temperatures ranging from 1 to several thousand Kelvin and pressures as high as those at the core of teh earth. Characterization of these newly created compounds will involve assessments of their electronic and structural attributes across a broad spectrum of temperatures, conducted through electrical resistivity, AC magnetic susceptibility, micro Raman, and reflectivity measurements.
Within our laboratory, students engage in a diverse array of activities, immersing themselves in the principles of high-pressure research using diamond anvil cells. This comprehensive learning experience encompasses a wide range of techniques for investigating materials under extreme pressures, such as cryogenic methodologies, spectroscopy, crystallography studies at synchrotron facilities, transport and magnetic measurements, and fundamental nanofabrication techniques.
Students will focus their efforts on materials with superconducting properties or those displaying potential for pressure-induced superconductivity. Their research delves into understanding how materials' structural and electronic properties evolve under varying pressures.
Moreover, in addition to conducting experiments in our University of Utah laboratory, interested students will have the unique opportunity to participate in experiments conducted at national laboratories, including Argonne National Lab, NHMFL, and Oak Ridge. This participation can be carried out either remotely or in person, broadening their research experiences and exposure to cutting-edge facilities and expertise.
Student Learning Outcomes and Benefits
In our group, students will gain a deep understanding of the foundations of scientific research and the skills required to address open-ended challenges.
Throughout their research journey, students will have the chance to cultivate technical expertise necessary for conducting independent experiments. This dual learning process encompasses not only a comprehensive grasp of the project's scientific underpinnings but also hands-on training with the cutting-edge tools and techniques utilized in contemporary condensed matter research.
Participation in experiments conducted at national laboratories will expose students to research career opportunities beyond academia. This experience will unfold within some of the most advanced research facilities worldwide. Ultimately, this project equips students with the essential groundwork for pursuing advanced research at the graduate level or engaging in research and development projects within the industry.
Science is a universal language and everyone can learn. My group is a place for students, regardless of their background, to learn and make meaningful contribution to science. Curiosity, creativity and perseverance is what it takes to be a successful member of the group. I spend many hours with students and work side by side with them. Each person learns different and I believe a healthy group should provide opportunities for all.