PhD project: High-Pressure Alchemy: Turning Simple Metals into Complex Non-Metals

Project description

At ambient conditions, the group I elements (Li, Na, K, Rb Cs) are regarded as "simple metals" whose single valence electrons have only a weak interaction with the atomic core. Under pressure, however, the density of these metals can be increased many-fold, and the same "simple" metals are found to undergo transitions to very structural complex forms, which calculations suggest may be semi-metallic, or even semi-conducting. In this project, you will use nano-fabrication techniques to make "sculptured" diamond anvils, which will be used to compress alkali metals in a diamond anvil cell (DAC) to extreme pressures above 500 GPa. The structural behaviour will be determined using x-ray diffraction at synchrotron radiation sources such as Diamond, the ESRF. or Petra-III. This project will also utilise the European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL.Eu) to make pioneering structural studies at P-T conditions previously unobtainable in a DAC - opening wholly new regions of P-T space to experimental study for the first time.

The studentship for this project is supplemented by a CASE or an iCASE award, which offers an enhanced stipend, additional travel money for attending conferences and experiemnts, and a consumables budget.

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