The ‘FORCE’ is with ASU, thanks to a $ 13.7M

The National Science Foundation has just announced the allocation of $ 13.7 million to Arizona State University for the construction of a unique high-pressure research center, the FORCE (Facility for Open Research in a Compressed Environment).

“Having the work of ASU faculty on this scale recognized and supported by the National Science Foundation is incredibly exciting,” said Kenro Kusumi, dean of natural sciences at ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Kusumi said the university’s Navrotsky Eyring Center for Universe Materials – which unites cosmology, astrophysics, astronomy, planetary science and exploration, mineralogy and petrology with science and materials engineering, chemistry, physics and biology to answer the big questions of complex chemistry and the evolution of planets – continues to be at the forefront of the study of materials under extreme conditions.

The new FORCE facility will enable lead researcher Kurt Leinenweber and co-PIs Alexandra Navrotsky, who heads the center, Thomas Sharp, David Smith and Dan (Sang-Heon) Shim “to drive transformation and innovation in science at high pressure, ”Kusumi said. . “We look forward to forging new collaborations with researchers across the country. “

Leinenweber, who is also director of the high pressure installation of the Eyring Materials Center, which is part of the ASU Knowledge Enterprise, said: “This award is the fulfillment of a hope that we have for many years served. the United States and the rest of the high pressure world to perform revolutionary high pressure experiments with high volume presses in the United States. . “

The grant will provide four major pieces of equipment, a specialized space for their installation and operation, as well as personnel support.

“FORCE represents a remarkable new tool at ASU for the exploration and development of new materials,” said Professor Neal Woodbury, vice president of research and chief science and technology officer of ASU Knowledge Enterprise. “This new national center will also bring scientists from around the world to ASU to work with our faculty on aspects of materials science that are as yet entirely unexplored.”

Navrotsky, professor in both the School of Molecular Sciences and the School of Matter, Transport and Energy Engineering, as well as an affiliate professor in the School of Earth Exploration and space, said, “This is the culmination of over 50 years of high pressure studies at ASU. FORCE will be a major and sustainable national center unique to the United States “

FORCE will promote the discovery of new materials and the solving of fundamental problems in Earth and planet sciences, materials science, chemistry, physics, energy conversion and other fields. A diverse group of researchers who need access to new high-quality high-pressure samples and other improved high-pressure capabilities will either use the new presses or request samples to be taken. Many researchers from US academic institutions, government laboratories and industry have already expressed an interest in accessing the proposed instrumentation.

“Establishing a national high pressure facility on the ASU campus, which will be unique in the United States, is a great addition to the capabilities of the School of Molecular Sciences and ASU,” Tijana explained. Rajh, director of the school. “FORCE will house state-of-the-art facilities that will allow the discovery of new materials not accessible under ambient conditions, stress-induced phase transformations, as well as the understanding of the parameters that influence the stability of materials used in commonly used devices such as than batteries or wind turbines. Coupled with other state-of-the-art facilities at the School of Molecular Sciences and ASU, FORCE will become an international hub for the study of all non-equilibrium materials.


FORCE will be an open facility with easy and clear access for researchers from universities, national laboratories and industry, using the well-established facility access infrastructure already in place at ASU. The establishment will also offer summer courses and workshops. It will provide short term office space to encourage users to come to the facility for short, medium or long term visits. FORCE will provide training and hands-on experience to diverse students and other scientists from diverse scientific and cultural backgrounds. Users will also be able to access ASU’s many other synthesis and analysis facilities.

“This unique national facility will enable a variety of studies under conditions of extreme pressure and temperature that will place ASU at the forefront of materials research,” said the director of the School of Earth Exploration and space, Meenakshi Wadhwa. “What I’m particularly excited about is that it will open up incredible possibilities for our professors and researchers to explore otherwise inaccessible environments deep inside the Earth, other planets in our solar system and far beyond. in exoplanets. “

It is an exciting time for high pressure science. The discovery of diverse and active environments in many planetary bodies in our solar system and the astonishing number and variety of exoplanets place the study of the interior of our own Earth in a new and broader perspective, requiring a range of much wider experience in extreme conditions. .

Pressure is also a versatile tool for making new materials and exploring chemical bonds. The focus on the prediction and synthesis of new functional materials, incorporated into the materials genome and related initiatives, must incorporate pressure and temperature to explore new states of matter. New physical properties frequently emerge under pressure, including changes in electronic structure, leading, for example, to insulator-to-metal transitions, superconductivity, and structural phase transitions. High pressure / temperature experiments can be used to understand materials deep within the Earth and planets (Earth and planetary science); discover new materials with useful electrical, optical and mechanical properties; stimulate quantum effects (physics and engineering of materials); and synthesize previously unknown compounds (chemistry).

Extreme conditions, including high pressure and high temperature, are essential for creating new materials and studying their properties, and for studying the structure and dynamics of planetary interiors. The scientific impact of high pressure research has been highlighted by recent surveys and white papers. More recently, the need for large-volume high-pressure equipment that does not currently exist in the United States was identified as a top priority in the latest ten-year NAS earth science survey, sponsored by the NSF.

The team

Leinenweber directs the high-pressure facility of the Eyring Materials Center (formerly known as the LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science), which is part of the ASU Knowledge Enterprise. He is a true expert in high pressure research and has worked in high pressure installations in the United States and Japan.

Navrotsky is a distinguished physical chemist whose research interests relate the microscopic characteristics of structure and binding to the macroscopic thermodynamic behavior of minerals, ceramics and other complex materials. After leaving ASU in 1985 for Princeton University, Navrotsky officially returned on October 1, 2019, as a member of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient of numerous other honors. She directs the Navrotsky Eyring Center for Universe Materials.

Sharp is a professor of geology at the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of the ASU / NASA Space Grants Program. Sharp has been at ASU for 24 years, teaching primarily mineralogy, field geology, and electron microscopy. His research interests include impacts and shock metamorphism in meteorites, high pressure minerals, and phase transformations in the Earth’s mantle and shocked rocks. As a co-PI on this grant, Sharp will coordinate the broader impacts of the project, including public outreach efforts, undergraduate research internships, graduate research scholarships, and a summer school on high pressure research. He is also looking forward to using the facilities to study the mechanisms of deformation and transformation of minerals at high pressure.

Hold is a professor at the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration, specializing in mineral physics. Shim’s research interests focus on the physical and chemical properties of materials at high pressures and temperatures, as well as the structure and evolution of the Earth’s interior and planets. Shim runs the Pressurized Materials Lab, where planetary materials are studied under a wide range of pressures and temperatures using the diamond-anvil cell, multi-anvil press, and shock wave techniques. As a high-pressure materials scientist, Shim is eager to develop new techniques to study rocks under the conditions expected for Earth, solar system planets, and exoplanets under FORCE.

Black-smith is a full professor in the Department of Physics at ASU whose long-term research interests have focused on the development and applications of atomic resolution electron microscopy. More recently, he has focused on oxide / semiconductor heterostructures and nanostructures. He plans to study the combined effects of compression and rotation on the structure and properties of metastable oxides, semiconductors and nanomaterials.

“US researchers need cutting edge tools to stay at the forefront of science and technology,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “NSF is committed to filling this midsize space in America’s scientific research infrastructure by investing in research facilities and instruments that advance next-generation discoveries. “

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