The search for alternative high-pressure super-dense materials, some of which might be harder than diamond, has presented new and complex challenges for theoretical and experimental studies of Warm Dense Matter (WDM), the state of matter in the core of planets and stars. It can be defined as the state that is too dense to be described by weakly-coupled plasma physics yet that is too energetic to be described by condensed matter physics.
This PhD project aims to synthesise novel metastable material phases of silicon, germanium, carbon and related compounds creating WDM by controlled ultrafast laser-induced microexplosion confined within a material’s bulk, such phases as predicted to be formed at terapascal pressure but never observed in nature or in laboratory experiments. The project will include formation of microexplosion conditions with ultrashort powerful laser pulses, focused ion beam milling, analysis of various laser-processed crystals (such as silicon, sapphire, diamond) with transmission and electron microscopy, characterisation of crystal structures with Raman spectroscopy, electron and x-ray synchrotron diffraction, and analysis and interpretation of experimental data.
During this theoretical and experimental project the student will be expected to develop the following skills:
- Experimental skills in ultrafast laser interaction with matter;
- Laser processing of bulk materials;
- Scanning and transmission electron microscopy;
- Focussed ion beam milling;
- Electron diffraction and x-ray synchrotron diffraction;
- Computer-control of hardware involved in the experiments;
- Analysis and interpretation of experimental data;
- Working as part of a team in a dynamic laboratory environment
This is a PhD progect, which requires solid knowledge in optics and in material science. Masters in optics, lasers and material science is highly desired before taking the PhD studies. Interest in the basics of laser-matter interactions, solid state and plasma physics, electromagnetic waves and lasers, methods of experimental studies of solid state matter. Laser Safety course is required.