Under pressure

Diamond anvil

Technology developed at the University of Cambridge which facilitates electrical measurements under pressure is to be commercialised by easyLab, a Reading-based designer and manufacturer of equipment for high-pressure applications.

The patterned anvils technology, developed by Dr Sven Friedemann and Dr Oliver Welzel, both affiliates of the Cavendish Laboratory, removes many of the difficulties associated with achieving repeatable electrical measurements under high pressure, such as short-circuits or connectivity failures.

Drs Friedemann and Welzel have developed patterning and deposition techniques for the ceramic alumina (Al2O3) and single crystal moissanite (SiC) anvils used in high pressure cells. The inventors have shown the technique to be successful by carrying out measurements up to a pressure of four gigapascals (GPa). easyLab intend to develop the technology so that it can be used to facilitate the measurements of physical properties of materials under a pressure up to above 12 GPa (120 kbar).

It is intended that easyLab will initially implement patterned anvils in piston-cylinder pressure cells for electrical resistivity measurements. This could potentially be broadened to magnetic and nuclear magnetic resonance measurements in a phased approach.

To date, the possibility of characterising macroscopic properties such as electronic transport under pressure has been hindered by the lack of reliability and the complexity of implementing such patterning and deposition techniques.

“The work of Drs Friedemann and Welzel seems to have unlocked part of the code and we are really looking forward to commercialising their technology for patterned anvils,” said Dr Christophe Thessieu of easyLab. “This will enable the spreading of the technique in laboratories worldwide and should speed up a wider application of pressure studies in novel complex materials.”

“This technology provides several advantages over current methods for obtaining high-pressure measurements,” said Dr Gillian Davis of Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation group. “We look forward to working with easyLab as they develop this research for market.”

easyLab’s core business is the design, development, manufacture and support of scientific equipment that extend the current boundaries of experimental science into the extreme condition of ultra-high pressures.