Materials in extreme conditions


The main objective of this internal research program is the development and application of synchrotron techniques and complementary techniques for investigating the microscopic properties of matter at extreme temperatures or pressures, or strong magnetic fields.

When a material is subject to these extreme conditions, it can present new physical and chemical properties. For example, by being compressed to high pressures, materials may exhibit quite unusual physical characteristics, going from conductor to insulator or superconductor, from magnetic to non-magnetic and vice versa. These properties can be observed both in nature (inside the Earth’s crust, for example) or even in synthesis conditions of new materials.

Understanding the phenomena that occur when atoms are closer together and matter becomes denser will open new opportunities in the use of extreme thermomechanical conditions to design new classes of materials. Moreover, in environments such as the pre-salt geological layer, high pressure and temperature conditions cause the properties of materials to completely change. Understanding these changes may increase the potential for oil exploration in these areas.

Conventional synchrotron light techniques such as X-ray spectroscopy, diffraction and scattering or even tomography can be combined with sample environment systems, which allow the application of extreme temperatures, high pressures and high magnetic fields. Most developments in this program are related to the design of new experiments and instrumentation capable of simulating and observing materials under such extreme conditions.

In the UVX synchrotron light source, the beamlines DXAS and XDS are the main experimental stations where projects in this subprogram are currently run, mainly due to their temporal resolution capability and use of hard x-rays, capable of penetrating complex sample environments such as Diamond Anvil Cells.