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Washington State University Institute for Shock Physics


Understanding Materials at Extreme Conditions

The Institute for Shock Physics (ISP) is a multidisciplinary research organization with an emphasis on understanding condensed matter response at extreme conditions. The research activities, supported by the DOE/NNSA and other federal agencies, involve examining and understanding physical and chemical changes in solids and liquids under very rapid and large compressions.

Washington State University is a leader in shock wave and high pressure research. Using state-of-the-art experimental and computational capabilities, researchers at the Institute for Shock Physics conduct interdisciplinary research spanning the fields of physics, chemistry, materials science, solid mechanics, planetary sciences, and applied mathematics. Graduate students and faculty from several academic departments participate in the Institute’s research activities.

The Institute emphasizes partnerships involving students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty members from other academic institutions, and researchers from national laboratories to address scientific challenges in a comprehensive manner.

What is shock wave and high pressure research?

Shock wave and static high pressure experiments, using innovative measurement capabilities, allow researchers to examine condensed matter states at extreme compressions and temperatures. Understanding condensed matter response at conditions relevant to dynamic loading (shock wave or shockless compression) and static high pressure has been central to advances in fundamental science and modern technology.

Dynamic and static high pressures exist in many natural and man-made environments. For example, naturally occurring high pressure and high temperature phenomena arise in meteorite impacts and in planetary interiors. Examples of man-made high pressures include space and national security related applications, including studies for improved armor and understanding of detonations for safe and improved use of energetic materials. Other applications include semiconductor research related to understanding the role of strains in layered devices used in electronics and optoelectronics, materials synthesis, and remediation of contaminated soils.