Properties of Earth and Planetary Materials at Extreme Conditions and the Evolution of the Earth and Planets
The Earth shares a common origin with the other planets within our solar system. How did these planets evolve from the same solar nebula to their current diverse states? Some of the answers can be found through experimental study of Earth and planetary materials.
A great challenge in this area is to reproduce, under laboratory conditions, the extreme pressure and temperatures of Earth’s mantle and core and to investigate how materials behave under these conditions. Because of technical limitations, fundamental questions about the thermal and chemical evolution of the planet’s interior remain poorly understood.
Professor Li and her group are developing high-pressure and micro-analytical techniques to obtain new material data that will allow them to infer the nature and dynamics of planetary interiors. The novel and most significant parts of this research are (a) measuring thermal conductivity of compressed solids using the thermo-reflectance method in the diamond anvil cell and (b) studying the melting behavior of iron-rich alloys under high pressure using the synchrotron x-ray radiography technique.
During her Center appointment, Professor Li will travel frequently to work with her collaborators at the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, in developing the synchrotron techniques and carrying out new measurements on iron-rich systems.