Washington, DC, 1 April 2010- Nanoscience is opening up a new window on materials under extreme conditions. Scientists at the Geophysical Laboratory, working closely with colleagues at the Advanced Photon Source, have utilized nano-focused x-rays to probe samples at multimegabar pressures in diamond anvil cells.

The study show the use of nanoprobe overcomes several key limitations in multi-megabar pressure experiments.

At the current dedicated high pressure synchrotron beamlines, the x-ray probe size is around 2-5 microns, which largely limits the precision measurement at ultra-high pressure.

Working at the nanofocused beamlines 34-ID-E and 2-ID-D at the APS, a team led by Lin Wang from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Argonne National Laboratory, National Cheng Kung University and Stanford University combined the absorption and diffraction mappings to demonstrate the capabilities of spatially resolved absorption contrast and diffraction phase separation, pressure gradient, grain size determination, and potential application of single crystal study in powder sample.

The results show the continuing power of state-of-the-art synchrotron radiation techniques in high pressure research. The work was conducted by HPSynC, a partnership between the Geophysical Laboratory and APS, which is spearheading new developments in this field.

The feature picture shows x-ray transmission through a sample of platinum, tungsten, and iron measured at close to 3 million atmospheres pressure with a 250 nm beam.  The image is 15 µm across. The above figure shows indicate the experimental layout for these experiments.  See also "Nanoprobes at Megabars".  The article is Wang et al., Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.10.1073,1001141107 (2010) (PDF).

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