Abstract

The recent discovery of more than a thousand planets outside our Solar System1,2, together with the significant push to achieve inertially confined fusion in the laboratory3, has prompted a renewed interest in how dense matter behaves at millions to billions of atmospheres of pressure. The theoretical description of such electron-degenerate matter has matured since the early quantum statistical model of Thomas and Fermi4,5,6,7,8,9,10, and now suggests that new complexities can emerge at pressures where core electrons (not only valence electrons) influence the structure and bonding of matter11. Recent developments in shock-free dynamic (ramp) compression now allow laboratory access to this dense matter regime. Here we describe ramp-compression measurements for diamond, achieving 3.7-fold compression at a peak pressure of 5 terapascals (equivalent to 50 million atmospheres). These equation-of-state data can now be compared to first-principles density functional calculations12 and theories long used to describe matter present in the interiors of giant planets, in stars, and in inertial-confinement fusion experiments. Our data also provide new constraints on mass–radius relationships for carbon-rich planets.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the NIF staff, B. Goldstein, Ed Moses, C. Keane, the Science Use of NIF programme, C. Wild (Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid-State Physics, Freiburg, Germany) for preparation of the diamond targets, D. Hicks for his analysis work, and M. Millot for reanalysing published diamond Hugoniot data. This work was performed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under contract number DE-AC52-07NA27344, with additional support from the Department of Energy, the University of California, and the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science.

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Affiliations

  1. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, PO Box 808, Livermore, California 94550, USA

    • R. F. Smith
    • , J. H. Eggert
    • , D. G. Braun
    • , J. R. Patterson
    • , R. E. Rudd
    • , J. Biener
    • , A. E. Lazicki
    • , A. V. Hamza
    • , T. Braun
    • , L. X. Benedict
    • , P. M. Celliers
    •  & G. W. Collins
  2. Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Department of Astronomy and Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

    • R. Jeanloz
    •  & J. Wang
  3. Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA

    • T. S. Duffy

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Contributions

R.F.S., J.H.E., D.G.B., P.M.C., J.R.P., A.E.L. and G.W.C. designed, executed and analysed the data from the ramp compression experiments. J.H.E., R.E.R., L.X.B., R.J., T.S.D., J.W. and G.W.C. performed the comparisons of experimental data to EOS models and theory. J.B., T.B. and A.V.H. were instrumental in procuring and metrologizing the diamond step samples.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to G. W. Collins.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13526

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