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Cerreta named president of nation’s professional society for minerals, metals, and materials scientists and engineers

Ellen Cerreta, the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s division leader for Materials Science and Technology, has been named president of The Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society (TMS), a professional society for scientists and engineers in those fields.

“TMS aspires to be the professional society where global materials, science, and engineering practitioners come together to scope the future of materials engineering and technology,” said Cerreta. “As such, I am honored to have been selected by the membership of this society to serve as president.”

Cerreta has previously served as the deputy division leader for Explosive Science and Shock Physics, and as the program manager for High Explosives Safety at Los Alamos.

She has more than 100 peer-reviewed publications in this area of research and is also an adjunct faculty member in The Institute of Shock Physics at Washington State University and was inducted into the 2016 ASM Fellows Class.

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Scientists Create Crystal Stronger Than Diamond

Currently, diamond is regarded to be one of the hardest and most scratch-resistant natural materials in the world. Most diamonds found in nature and often used in jewelry display a cubic crystal structure, a repeating pattern of 8 atoms forming a cube with carbon atoms at its vertices. Each carbon atom forms four bonds with its neighbors, explaining the overall stability and hardness of the crystal structure.

Now scientists at Washington State University’s Institute for Shock Physics created hexagonal diamonds large enough to measure their stiffness and also calculated their hardness. The results of their experiments are published in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

Yogendra Gupta.

“Diamond is a very unique material,” said Yogendra Gupta, director of the Institute for Shock Physics and corresponding author on the study. “It is not only the strongest—it has beautiful optical properties and a very high thermal conductivity. Now we have made the hexagonal form of diamond, produced under shock compression experiments, that is significantly stiffer and stronger than regular gem diamonds.”

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Dr. Universe: How does sand stick together?

Lauren Barmore.Sand is actually made up of lots of different things. When we look at it under the microscope, we can see cooled lava, coral, seashells, and other kinds of wonderful, colorful rocks.

If you add just the right amount of water to sand, it transforms into a pretty good material for shaping towers, walls, and spires for a sandcastle. At first, I thought the wet sand stuck together because of a chemical reaction. But it turns out this interplay of sand and water creates what scientists call a physical reaction.

That’s what I found out from my friend and physicist Lauren Barmore, a graduate researcher at Washington State University who is very curious about matter and how things work on our planet.

She explained that if you had two rocks and put a bit of water in the middle, the water would be attracted to the rocks and form a kind of liquid bridge between them. One property of water is that it doesn’t like to touch the air. Water would rather hang onto something else.

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Dr. Universe

Transformation of graphite into hexagonal diamond documented by WSU researchers

Yogendra Gupta

Scientists have puzzled over the exact pressure and other conditions needed to make hexagonal diamond since its discovery in an Arizona meteorite fragment half a century ago.

Now, a team of WSU researchers has for the first time observed and recorded the creation of hexagonal diamond in highly oriented pyrolytic graphite under shock compression, revealing crucial details about how it is formed. The discovery could help planetary scientists use the presence of hexagonal diamond at meteorite craters to estimate the severity of impacts.

“The transformation to hexagonal diamond occurs at a significantly lower stress than previously believed,” said WSU Regents Professor Yogendra Gupta, director of the Institute for Shock Physics and a co-author of the study. “This result has important implications regarding the estimates of thermodynamic conditions at the terrestrial sites of meteor impacts.”

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New capability supports U.S. energy, security needs

Yogendra Gupta
Yogendra Gupta

The Dynamic Compression Sector, a first-of-its-kind-worldwide research capability, will help unravel the mysteries of material behavior at extreme conditions and short time scales.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Washington State University  will dedicate the DCS in a ceremony hosted by WSU this week at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source near Chicago.

The DCS will help address challenges related to the nation’s energy and national security needs, understand the structure of planetary interiors and make new, lightweight materials for industrial, aerospace and automotive applications.

“DCS supports a broad range of multidisciplinary research and will allow scientists to observe material behaviors and the underlying microscopic mechanisms using techniques that have not been possible before,” said Yogendra Gupta, director of the WSU Institute for Shock Physics.

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