I am currently President of the American Physical Society, and much of my work is directed towards increasing federal and private support for research and education.
In my research group at Berkeley, we are understanding the behavior of solids and plasmas that are under extreme conditions of pressure and temperature. We study how these materials respond to high stress (up to a billion atmospheres of pressure, or 1 GigaBar) and high temperatures (several million degrees, or hundreds of eV). We measure and control dynamics on the length and time scales of atomic motion (down to nanometers and femtoseconds). The questions we address are generally fundamental, since we are extending science into novel regimes. The applications of our work range from geophysics (what is the chemistry of materials under pressure?), to materials performance (can we design materials that will perform under extreme conditions?), to fusion energy (can we create plasmas at high enough density and temperature to undergo nuclear burn?), to astrophysics (can we understand the physics of giant planets and stars?).
We are also developing novel methods of high-resolution, chemically-resolved, ultrafast, three-dimensional imaging at the nanoscale, using x-rays, in order to better understand the physics and chemistry of functional materials under more conventional conditions.
Our tools involve advanced x-ray synchrotrons, the world’s highest energy lasers, free-electron x-ray lasers, and tabletop, ultrashort pulse lasers. Our team includes faculty and other scientists from many countries, theorists and experimentalists, as well as postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students.
In the News
Berkeley stakes science claim at Homestake gold mine UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab plan to turn South Dakota's Homestake gold mine into a world-class science complex, with underground experiments in astrophysics, physics, biology and earth science. South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, a big supporter of the effort, visited the campus and lab June 12 to cement the relationship and see what a large research complex looks like.