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Exploring the last white spot on Earth
Date:11/10/2011

Grenoble -- Scientists will soon be exploring matter at temperatures and pressures so extreme it can only be produced for microseconds using powerful pulsed lasers. Matter in such states is present in the Earth's liquid iron core, 2500 kilometres beneath the surface, and also in elusive "warm dense matter" inside large planets like Jupiter. A new X-ray beamline ID24 at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, allows a new quality of exploration of the last white spot on our globe: the centre of the Earth.

We know surprisingly little about the interior of the Earth. The pressure at the centre can be calculated accurately from the propagation of Earthquake waves, and it is about three and a half million times atmospheric pressure. The temperature at the centre of the Earth, however, is unknown, but it is thought to be roughly as hot as the surface of the sun.

ID24, which was inaugurated today, opens new fields of science, being able to observe like in a time-lapse film sequence many rapid processes, whether laser-heating of iron to 10.000 degrees, charge reactions in new batteries or catalysts cleaning pollutants. It is the first of eight new beamlines built within the ESRF Upgrade Programme, a 180 million Euros investment over eight years to maintain the world-leading role of the ESRF. ID24 extends the existing capabilities at the ESRF in X-ray absorption spectroscopy to sample volumes twenty times smaller and time resolutions one thousand times better than in the past.

"Scientists can use several other synchrotrons notably in Japan and the U.S for fast X-ray absorption spectroscopy, but it is the microsecond time resolution for single shot acquisition (or experiments) coupled to the micron sized spot that makes ID24 unique worldwide," says Sakura Pascarelli, beamline responsible scientist for ID24. "The rebuilt ID24 sets the ESRF apart, and even before the first users have arrived, I am asked to share
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Contact: Claus Habfast
claus.habfast@esrf.fr
33-666-662-384
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Source:Eurekalert  

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