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Mineral Sciences

Silica Model
Molecular dynamics simulation to reproduce silica glass using large configurations with fully bonded atoms

Mineral sciences research focuses on elucidating the properties and behaviour of minerals and fluids at a fundamental level. There has been a planned increase in research in this area over the last decade producing one of the largest research groups worldwide. Main research topics range from the passivation of nuclear waste, the behaviour of water over short time scales, and the magnetic behaviour of small particles, to the elastic response of minerals in the geophysical context. The nature and breadth of these topics illustrate the need for interdisciplinary approaches to solve these highly complex problems.

We have developed a wide range of in-house experimental facilities, and advanced computational methods and applications. We have used national and international facilities for neutron scattering, synchrotron X-ray diffraction and supercomputing. We collaborate extensively with the Departments of Physics, Materials Science, Chemistry and Mathematics in Cambridge. We are expanding our activities into micromagnetics and TEM holography for the analysis of magnetic field lines. A major strategic development is a new elasticity laboratory to measure elastic properties over wide frequency ranges in collaboration with our geophysicists. As many minerals are ferroelastic we have a strong research team in non-linear ferroic properties of solids which is directly relevant to industrial research of memory devises. 

Topics of current research include:

  • Elasticity and anelasticity of minerals in Earth's crust, mantle and core.
  • Biomineralisation and paleoclimate proxies.
  • Synchrotron based spectroscopy, tomography and magnetic imaging of minerals at the nanoscale.
  • Nonlinear mechanical properties of mixed-phase systems.
  • Advanced materials for nuclear waste encapsulation.
  • Rock magnetism, paleomagnetism and environmental magnetism.
  • Phase transitions in multiferroic materials.
  • Neutron, infrared and Raman spectroscopy of molecular processes in minerals.
  • Mineral-water interactions at extreme conditions.

We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in geology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and materials science.

Recent publications in this area.

People specializing in this area