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Contact: Claus Habfast
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

Experimental Set-up

Caption: Recreating the Earth's liquid iron core in the laboratory: a speck-sized piece of iron is thermally isolated and placed between the tips of two small conical diamonds. Pressing the two diamonds together produces pressures of 2 million atmospheres and more. As a laser beam heats the sample to temperatures of 3000 to 5000 degrees, a thin beam of synchrotron X-rays is used to detect whether it has started to melt. This will change its crystalline structure, in turn modifying the "diffraction pattern" of deflected X-rays behind the sample.

Credit: ESRF/Denis Andrault.

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Related news release: The Earth's center is 1,000 degrees hotter than previously thought

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