Synchrotron Workshop Attracts Researchers from Around the World

Nearly 100 attendees from around the world came together for the High Pressure Synchrotron Science symposium, held May 6-8, 2009 at the Advanced Photon Source in conjunction with the 2009 APS User's Meeting. The mission of the symposium, which was sponsored by several groups including CDAC and HPSynC, was to bring the user community together to discuss new ways of exploring the pressure variable in chemistry, physics, materials science, geoscience and biology using synchrotron radiation. In a program that spanned three days and included 35 invited talks, the state of the art in high pressure research was explored across this diverse range of fields.

The vibrancy of the community was highlighted by the breadth of interesting talks and a notable number of contributions from areas not traditionally associated with high pressure research. These included a presentation on observations of a high density form of liquid water inside protein crystals at high pressure, several presentations on the possibilities of coherent diffraction imaging of single-particles under high hydrostatic pressures, and a presentation on x-ray photo chemistry under extreme conditions as a way of forming novel materials.

Exciting fundamental physics was also presented in the form of dramatic images of transparent, non-conducting sodium, and shock compression was shown to result in the metallization of He at densities exceeding 2.5 g/cm3. The rich possibilities of high pressure as a means of forming ultra-hard materials in the B-C-N system were explored, as were the structural properties of nano-polycrystalline diamond. Geophysics was also a main theme throughout the meeting: chemical reaction and partitioning at the core-mantle boundary were featured, as were the implications of the recently discovered spin transitions in iron-based minerals.

Three CDAC partners, Tom Duffy (Princeton), Yogesh Vohra (University of Albama – Birmingham), and Wendy Mao (Stanford), gave presentations at the meeting. Presentations were given by other CDAC affiliated scientists, including Alexander Goncharov and Viktor Struzhkin from the Geophysical Laboratory; Stanislav Sinogeikin, Wenge Yang, and Qiang Mei from HPCAT; and Lin Wang and Michael Lerche from HPSynC.

The diverse scientific program was structured around three technical sessions, each of which focused on the future of high pressure synchrotron research relative to a particular area of the field. The emerging role of in situ imaging of systems under extreme conditions raised the prospect of a new field of hierarchical structural/functional characterization. Meanwhile, a strong drive to push the frontiers of experimentation towards the nanoscale, with sub-micron beamsizes and high precision stages, was discussed in several presentations.

Proceedings of the meeting are to be published in a special issue of Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter.