Scientists at WSU’s Institute for Shock Physics discovered something unexpected when they tested humankind’s most valuable metals to see how much pressure they could take.
It turns out platinum is the only precious metal that retains its atomic structure when subjected to the kind of pressure found at the center of planet Earth, holding up better than gold.
“No one really expected this. We thought that gold was stable forever, but it turns out it changes into a different related crystal structure under enough shock wave pressure,” said Yogendra Gupta, director of the Institute for Shock Physics at WSU. “So basically, if you want a material that will never change no matter what then store platinum.”
It’s this kind of intellectual curiosity and commitment to scientific discovery that has helped bring international acclaim to WSU’s Shock Physics research. And it demonstrates the unique capabilities of the Chicago-based Dynamic Compression Sector (DCS), a facility designed and built by WSU that enabled the experiments to be conducted.