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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Double-Diamond Anvil Creates Pressures Greater Than Earth's Inner Core

•, By Rebecca Boyle

With a new megapressure environment, scientists will be able to replicate pressures one and a half times stronger than those found at the center of the Earth. The specialized anvil cell can create double the amount of pressure than anyone had previously demonstrated, an environment where new materials can be formed and where minerals behave very strangely.

Scientists at institutions in Chicago, Germany and Belgium used a super-powerful X-ray beam at the Argonne National Laboratory to do it. It uses a half-century-old technique, diamond anvil cells, by adding a set of micro-anvils. A diamond anvil cell uses two brilliant-cut diamonds, like the kind you would see in an engagement ring, but instead of a point at the bottom, they have flat surfaces. A sample goes between the two diamonds, which are then compressed together to create high pressures. The technique can create about 320 to 360 gigapascals, which is about 3 million times the atmospheric pressure found on Earth’s surface and about the pressure you would find at the core.  

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