High Pressure Phenomena
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In many respects, the science of materials has only fully utilized two of its three fundamental tools - the variables of temperature and chemical composition. Pressure, the third fundamental variable altering materials, is in many ways the most remarkable, as it spans some 60 orders of magnitude in the universe.
High-pressure science has experienced tremendous growth, particularly in the last few years. With recent developments in static and dynamic compression techniques, extreme pressure and temperature conditions can now be produced and carefully controlled over a wide range. Moreover, a new generation of analytical probes, many based on third-generation synchrotron radiation sources, have been developed and can now be applied for accurate determination of the structural, dynamical, and electronic properties of matter under extreme conditions. Finally, developments in computational techniques and advances in fundamental theory tested against bountiful new experimental results are both deepening our understanding of materials as a whole and guiding subsequent experimental work with new predictions.
It was for this reason that this course on high-pressure science was held at the International School of Physics "Enrico Fermi" School in July 2001. Though presented in a physics forum, the title “High-Pressure Phenomena” was chosen to reflect the broad scope of the field and the diversity of recent findings. Indeed, the field spans fundamental physics and chemistry, materials science and technology, the geosciences, planetary science and astrophysics, as well as biology. The highly interdisciplinary character of the field was central to the organization of the school, though the sheer breadth of the field meant that many topics could be treated in only a cursory fashion while others were examined more in depth. The aim of the school was to present the state-of-the-art in techniques used in modern high-pressure research, highlighting those topics where applications of these techniques are currently having a major impact.