Studies of dynamically and statically compressed antimony
Coleman, Amy Louise
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Physics at extreme conditions is not a young field; there have been decades of developments that have allowed us to generate high-pressure and high-temperature conditions in a vast array of materials. Conventionally, these extreme conditions were generated using static compression techniques; compressing a material in a diamond anvil cell which could then be heated or cooled, with structural information deduced using synchrotron radiation. These techniques are still invaluable for extreme conditions research although the pressures and temperatures that are accessible to them are limited by the strength of the diamond anvil cells and their ability to withstand extreme temperatures. The necessity for access to pressure-temperature states that are beyond the scope of the conventional diamond anvil cell is driven by the need to characterise extreme environments such as planetary interiors. It was long believed that materials in high pressure-temperature states would exhibit relatively simple, high-symmetry crystal structures, but recent research has proven that, conversely, there is an abundance of complex structural behaviour at these extreme conditions. One means of attaining pressure-temperature states beyond those accessible using static compression techniques is to impart a large amount of energy into a material in a comparatively short period of time (milliseconds to nanoseconds); this is known as dynamic compression. Dynamic compression can be generated using impact techniques or, alternatively, via laser ablation. Access to the most extreme conditions is commonly achieved by generating a shockwave which compresses the sample with the fastest achievable compression wave. Not only does this type of compression facilitate access to the most extreme states, it also allows us to explore the physics of impact phenomena and other such situations involving rapid energy transfer. Dynamic compression occurs on short timescales and, as such, there is a considerable challenge in implementing diagnostics to study the behaviour of compressed materials. Furthermore, because complexity is commonplace in extreme conditions, it is vital that any diagnostics should be able to provide data of high enough quality that this complexity may be resolved. The advent of 4th generation light sources (x-ray free electron lasers) has afforded us the opportunity to obtain extraordinarily high quality data on dynamic compression timescales. In the interest of refining analytical techniques when utilising this novel technology, materials exhibiting complex crystal structures should be investigated. Antimony is an element which is known, under static compression, to transform from a Peierls-distorted rhombohedral phase (R¯3m) to an incommensurately modulated host-guest structure (I'4=mcm(00γ)000s), a structure with an incredibly high level of complexity. The complexity of this host-guest phase, and the relatively low pressure at which it forms, makes antimony an ideal candidate for testing the resolution achievable using these 4th generation light sources. Furthermore, it is interesting to observe whether such a complex phase can form on the short timescales of dynamic compression. In this work antimony is both statically and dynamically compressed and the results of both experiments are compared. A static phase diagram is constructed for antimony up to 31 GPa and 835 K, confirming the location of a previously theorised triple point and suggesting the location of an additional triple point. Three solid phases are characterised and data are found to agree with the pre-existing static compression studies. The nature of the host-guest phase is investigated and the guest \chains" are found to remain intact even at the highest temperatures and pressures, a result which has not previously been observed in high pressure-temperature host-guest structures. Dynamic data from shock-compression experiments at pressures up to 59.3 GPa are plotted alongside the static data and contrasting phase behaviour is discussed. Four solid phases are identified along with one liquid phase. Observation of the host-guest phase in shock-compressed antimony confirms that highly complex crystal structures are able to form on the nanosecond timescale.