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As a researcher, my primary professional focus lies in exploring and comprehending the intricacies of planetary functionality, from the outermost layer of their surface to their unfathomable depths, spanning from the time of their tumultuous formation to their gradual decay. My interdisciplinary focus delves into the physics and chemistry of planetary minerals, such as silicates, oxides, and metallic alloys, supported by experiments and thermodynamics. The objective of my research is to replicate the harsh environmental conditions that exist on these celestial bodies within the confines of a laboratory setting, allowing the properties of matter to be studied in situ. To achieve this feat, I employ cutting-edge technologies like diamond anvil cells alongside laser heating or powerful cryostats. Throughout the course of my career, I have conducted extensive research on major mineral components of the deep Earth and Mars, as well as water and a range of technological materials.
I am a highly educated professional with a Master's degree in Earth Sciences, specializing in Mineralogy and Geochemistry, as well as a PhD in Planetary Sciences. My research has been focused on addressing the key geological questions surrounding the Nakhlites, a group of Martian meteorites that are approximately 1.3 billion years old. Through my work, I have gained a deep understanding of the magmatic processes that contributed to their formation, as well as the nature of the aquifer that recently circulated throughout the shallow bedrock on Mars.
My expertise in this area is reflected in the advanced methodologies I have employed, including manual hydrogen extraction through reduction over chromium and measurement of water abundances and isotopic signatures on both secondary and primary minerals through the use of a dynamic dual inlet IRMS. These techniques have allowed me to generate a robust dataset that has been integrated with information gathered from Mars rovers and landers in order to build a comprehensive model of the evolution of the Martian hydrosphere.
Through my work, I have developed predictions that are highly relevant to future exploration efforts on Mars. My professional style is characterized by a rigorous attention to detail, an unwavering commitment to scientific integrity, and a deep passion for advancing our understanding of planetary geology and beyond.
As a researcher, my current area of focus centers on the exploration of fundamental properties inherent in natural materials when subjected to varying levels of pressure. Specifically, I utilize the diamond anvil cell as a means of investigation, with a particular emphasis on observing the evolution of these properties as experimental conditions become progressively severe. My focal areas of study include, but are not limited to, crystal strength, elastic moduli, vibrational properties, electronic properties, and thermal and electrical conductivity.
The cornerstone of my research is grounded in structural analysis whereby I leverage advanced X-ray diffraction techniques at leading synchrotron facilities to determine crystal structures and stability fields of critical minerals, ultimately establishing phase diagrams. Next, I observe how these findings can be utilized to enhance our comprehension of Earth systems wherein extreme pressures and temperatures played a critical role.
Committed to advancing scientific progress, my research is dedicated to uncovering new insights into natural materials and their responses to pressure, with the ultimate goal of improving our understanding of the physical world around us.
Throughout my professional career, I have had the opportunity to work on a range of exciting research projects, delving deeper into the mysteries of our planet Earth. One of my earliest post-doctoral positions involved being a part of the NERC funded Deep Volatile Consortium, focused on researching the volatile compounds cycling in the deep Earth. Our research aimed to better understand how the Earth developed and sustained a habitable exosphere, and to achieve this goal, I utilized simulation experiments within the diamond anvil cell, Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction at synchrotron facilities, and thermodynamic modelling.
Over the course of my research, I have investigated the partitioning of H2O in a deep magma ocean, during the core formation, with a direct impact on the formation of a proto-atmosphere and the long-term cycling of hydrogen within the deep Earth. I have also conducted extensive research into the effects of impurity elements, such as carbon, nitrogen, sulphur and silicon, on the structure and phase stability of metallic iron, as well as the thermoelastic properties under high-pressure conditions. The results of these experiments have helped to further our understanding of the nature of the light elements present in the Earth's core.
My professional journey has been marked with opportunities to contribute towards cutting-edge research in the field of Earth Science. I remain committed to exploring new avenues of research, gaining deeper insights into the mysteries of our planet, and sharing my knowledge and expertise with the scientific community.
The thermodynamic variable of pressure is known to exert significant influence on the physical properties of materials. In fact, extreme pressure can reveal complex atomic structures and unpredictable physical phenomena that are not observed under ambient conditions. As a post-doctoral researcher, I am currently involved in the research project called Functional Quasicrystals in Sweden, which is supported by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW). This project focuses on the complex intermetallic alloys known as quasicrystals, which are comprised of icosahedral symmetry clusters that lack 3D periodicity. As a result, the electronic and phononic properties of these structures are not influenced by periodic potential, producing unique physical characteristics, such as novel electronic properties. My role in this project is to utilize a pressure-based approach to investigate the fundamental connections between aperiodic atomic structures and atypical electronic properties of quasicrystals.
The synthesis of novel materials with technologically valuable characteristics is an area of significant interest for high-pressure experimental research. A further area of research that I find particularly compelling is the investigation of why certain thermoelectric materials, including quasicrystals, display remarkable enhancements of their properties at high pressures. This research has the potential to lead to the creation of more efficient and higher performing thermoelectric materials. The utilization of quasicrystals is currently in its nascent stages, and as such, the application of increased technical sophistication, such as the application of pressure, could unveil unanticipated avenues for development in the future. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of formation and stabilization of quasicrystals is the first crucial step in leveraging their unique properties towards desired outcomes.
It is worth noting that natural quasicrystals represent the purest manifestation of quasi-crystalline matter that has ever been observed. Significantly, these materials are not affected by phasons, which are quasi-particles that cause distortions to the crystalline structure of laboratory-grown quasicrystals. Learning more about the processes that have facilitated the formation and stabilization of perfect, nature-made quasicrystals in outer space could help bridge a notable gap in our understanding of solid-state physics.
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