Washington, DC, 28 October 2010- Lasers are used extensively for exploring the nature of materials under extreme conditions, including high pressures and temperatures. This facility at the Geophysical Laboratory employs optical lasers to heat materials to temperatures higher than the surface of the Sun while at pressures up to those of the Earth's core. Lasers are used at the same time to probe the transformations of those materials to unusual states of bonding. A number of these experiments seek to understand the nature of hydrogen deep within Jupiter and large exoplanets. 

The laser was invented 50 years ago this year; see http://www.laserfest.org/. Once a scientific curiosity, lasers are now not only part of our daily lives but they are also crucial for the next generation of scientific discoveries.  The largest laser on Earth is at the National Ignition Facility of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where Geophysical Laboratory scientists are involved in the first set of science experiments through CDAC.

The feature image by Visiting Investigator Stewart McWilliams shows Carnegie Staff Scientist Timothy Strobel (foreground) using a pulsed laser system in one of the Geophysical Laboratory's spectroscopy facilities. Three pulsed laser sources are on the table before him: a pulsed green laser for Raman spectroscopy, a pulsed infrared (invisible) laser for rapid laser heating, and a pulsed supercontinuum broadband source for optical absorption studies.  In the background former Postdoctoral Associate Allen Dalton and Senior Staff Scientist Alexander Goncharov work on a new ultrafast laser system for thermal conductivity measurements (left), and Stewart McWilliams and Research Scientist Maddury Somayazulu collect Raman scattering data using a continuous blue laser.

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