Modelling of high pressure instruments and experiments using finite element methods
Fallas Chinchilla, Juan Carlos
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The study of matter at extreme conditions has been of great importance for modern society. A correct understanding of materials and environments subject to high pressures and temperatures enabled the development of car and jet engines, manufacture of goods, energy production and space travels among other human milestones. Discoveries in magnetism, geology, chemistry, and crystallography have been reported in literature as well, illustrating relevant contributions of this research area. Science at extreme conditions constantly requires to innovate instruments and characterisation methods. Sophisticated proficiencies are needed to explore and reproduce conditions of interest for this field. Since the 1990s, high pressure instruments for neutron scattering have boosted the study of compressed matter. The design and subsequent improvement of the Paris-Edinburgh (PE) press and toroidal anvils successfully impacted this area, currently being the most extensively used instrument for high pressure neutron scattering, commonly used for pressures of the order of 10 GPa. Recent incorporation of toroidal anvils made of Zirconia Toughened Alumina (ZTA) has opened new experimental possibilities. Neutron transparency and mechanical resistance are key properties of this ceramic material. At this point it is essential to understand ZTA anvils design and working conditions in order to increase experimental capabilities and access new frontiers in compressed matter. Computer-based modelling technique Finite Element Analysis (FEA) has been a recent ally for instrumentation design and optimisation. Phenomena such as mechanical stress, deformations, and thermal distributions can be modelled in an object, gathering information regarding its mechanical stability, behaviour and failure. Although this method is popular in industrial and engineering design and applications, it has not been widely employed in high pressure research due to scarce information in material properties under extreme conditions, as well as in innovative ceramics and metallic alloys introduced in these types of scientific devices.