The Earth began as a hot, molten ball and cooled for 4.5 billion years to reach its present state. During this time rocks solidified; water concentrated on the surface; and the Earth’s magnetic field arose sustained by the slow cooling of the metallic core. Central to knowing Earth’s history and future is an understanding how heat flows from its interior to its surface, as this thermal energy release fuels plate tectonics, Earth’s dynamo, volcanoes, and other natural phenomena that control the evolution and survival of life. For this project, you will study how Earth materials – metals such as iron alloys, and minerals such as quartz – transport heat and electricity when subjected to the high pressures of Earth’s core. Using advanced experimental techniques in the diamond anvil cell together with the help of numerical simulations, you will produce the conditions of Earth’s interior in the laboratory and measure heat and charge flow at those conditions. This work will answer fundamental questions about the physics of transport in metals and insulators at extreme conditions (a question on the cutting edge of condensed matter research today) while solving longstanding mysteries regarding Earth’s past and future.
- Dr Stewart McWilliams (School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
The project supervisor welcomes informal enquiries about this project.
Find out more about this research area
The links below summarise our research in the area(s) relevant to this project:
- Find out more about Extreme Conditions.
- Find out more about the Institute for Condensed Matter and Complex Systems.
- Find out how to apply for our PhD degrees.
- Find out about fees and funding and studentship opportunities.
- View and complete the application form (on the main University website).
- Find out how to contact us for more information.