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High Pressure Laboratory

Description: 1985, the High Pressure Laboratory was established with Instrumentation and Facilities grant from the NSF Division of Earth Sciences which supported the acquisition of a multi-anvil, large-volume, high-pressure apparatus from Sumitomo Press, the first one in North America that allowed for synthesis experiments up to to 30 GPa and 3000 K. Later, another  multi-anvil apparatus equipped with in-situ ultrasonic measurements (the Kennedy Press). These devices are distinguished by their large sample volumes (2 to 60 mm3, depending on pressure ) and by the ability to adjust and control the temperature and stress environment surrounding the sample. The Sumitomo and Kennedy Presses are housed in a 2000 sq. ft. building renovated by the university and located just behind the Earth and Space Sciences building. We also have a third apparatus, modified from "The Girdle Press," (a 500 Ton Harwood press) by installing 6-anvils high pressure device.

In addition to the above-mentioned apparatuses, the High Pressure Laboratory is equipped with a full range of sample- and experiment-preparation materials. The facility houses a lathe for machining of parts used in the high pressure experiments, arc-welders for preparation of metal capsule materials for the experiments, and a variety of hand tools and other materials necessary for getting samples ready for experiments. The High Pressure Laboratory is completely under user-supported operation, i.e., the users will be billed for actual cost of the experiment.


The Sumitomo Press

The so-called "Sumitomo Press" is a 2000-ton uniaxial split-sphere apparatus (USSA-2000) which is capable of generating pressures to 30 GPa and temperatures of 3000 K for sample volumes of 3 mm3, or pressures of 10 GPa for sample volumes of 30 mm3. It is particularly well-suited for synthesis experiments which require the generations of simultaneous high pressures and temperatures in large sample volumes for sustained periods of time. The recovered samples are later studied by a variety of analytical techniques, including X-ray diffraction, electron microprobe and microscopy, Brillouin and Raman spectroscopy, various synchrotron techniques, and ultrasonic interferometry in other Mineral Physics Institute-affiliated laboratories.


The Kennedy Press

The so-called "Kennedy Press" is a 1000-ton uniaxial split-cylinder apparatus (USCA-1000). This apparatus is similar in nature to the Sumitomo Press, but has a smaller-capacity press and high pressure module. The high-pressure module within the Kennedy is a Walker device. This apparatus is used for synthesis experiments that require extended durations of high temperatures and pressures in large-volume samples, but is not capable of achieving pressures quite as high as the Sumitomo (~16 GPa at maximum). The samples synthesized in this press are then analyzed and characterized using a variety of different methods in various MPI-affiliated facilities. The Kennedy Press is also used for conducting in situ ultrasonic interferometry experiments on large-volume samples that have been synthesized in either the Kennedy or Sumitomo presses.


The Modified Girdle

The third apparatus housed in the High Pressure Laboratory is known as The Girdle. Unlike the previous two machines, The Girdle is not a multi-anvil press. This apparatus makes use of a 500 Ton Harwood press with a girdled 2-anvil high pressure device. Essentially, this machine operates as an end-loaded piston-cylinder apparatus, with a large ram compressing the entire pressure vessel, and an interior piston that moves within the pressure vessel that independantly applies pressure to the sample region. This device is capable of acheiving pressures of up to around 30 kbar (3 GPa), but can accomodate a larger sample volume than the multi-anvil presses.

The operations of the High Pressure Laboratory are overseen by Research Professor Baosheng Li. If you have any questions about the capabilities of the Lab, or wish to discuss using the facilities in your own research, please contact him via email at


Page Last Modified June 1, 2008


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