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Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments (EFree)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) announced the initiation of Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) to accelerate the rate of scientific breakthroughs needed to create advanced energy technologies for the 21st century.  The EFRCs will pursue the fundamental understanding necessary to meet the global need for abundant, clean, and economical energy.

The Center for Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments (EFree) exists pursuant to this DOE goal, more specifically, focuses on accelerated discoveries of novel materials and phenomena in the extreme pressure-temperature environments and recoveries of the favorable properties for energy applications under ambient conditions.

EFree is a team of leaders in extreme conditions research, with Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao as director. Equipped with key enabling technologies--some in place already and some yet to be developed--EFree scientists will be able to integrate and coordinate team efforts from a diversity of research groups and approaches to solve pressing energy research tasks.

EFree will focus on developments in the following four thrust areas and associated strategies:
1. Novel superconducting, electronics, and magnetic materials under extreme P-T
2. Novel hydrogen and hydrogen-bearing systems under extreme P-T
3. Novel light-element and covalent materials under extreme P-T
4. Novel nanophase, composite, amorphous and geological materials under extreme P-T.

The Geophysical Lab will manage an unprecedented alliance of 35 senior, key people from Carnegie, national labs, and universities for this research. “The center will strengthen high-pressure materials research programs at the Advanced Photon Source (at Argonne National Laboratory) through the Carnegie-run HPSynC facility, as well as at the Spallation Neutron Source (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) at the recently completed beamline that the Carnegie team helped design and construct,” said Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao, director of EFree. This alliance includes scientists from Cornell, Penn. State, Stanford, University of Texas, Arizona State, Caltech, and Florida State universities, and Brookhaven, Jefferson, and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories.

“The creation of EFree will allow us to expand our fundamental studies of materials under extreme conditions while at the same time focus our research on major problems needed to address major energy challenges facing the nation and the world. These problems include using high pressures and temperatures to make new materials and create materials that can withstand extreme conditions. These materials include new classes of superconductors, superhard materials, high-energy density and hydrogen storage materials, new ferroelectrics and magnetic systems, and materials that resist chemical changes under extreme conditions," said Russell Hemley, director of the Geophysical Lab and associate director of EFree.

Studies are planned on metals; superconducting, electronic, and magnetic materials; hydrogen and hydrogen-bearing materials; novel molecular and covalent compounds; catalysts; and nanophase, composite, and geological materials.

There were 260 applications. Of the awards, 31 went to universities; 12 to DOE national laboratories; 1 to corporate research labs; Carnegie is one of two non-profit organizations receiving the award. Selection was based on a rigorous merit review process using outside panels composed of scientific experts. The Lab has had a long legacy of research into materials under extreme pressure and temperature environments.

Please follow the links for the Center's first partners' workshop, its management plan, organization, and Partners.