The fundamental research goals of the Bayerisches Geoinstitut are to provide insight into the structure, composition and dynamics of the interiors of the Earth and other terrestrial planets through experimental studies of Earth materials at high pressure and temperature. This report of the past year's activities in the institute documents significant advances in attaining these goals. To a large extent, this success reflects the scientific talent of the research scientists, the excellent technical support provided by institute staff, and the continued financial support by the State of Bavaria and the various funding bodies in Germany and the European Union. Underlining all research activities in the institute is the open-door principle, which encourages all scientists to collaborate freely and to make use of any experimental or analytical facilities necessary for a research program. Scientists are also encouraged to develop their own research programs, promoting early independence. The resultant research atmosphere, we believe, adds to the potential for innovation and fosters growth and learning for our students and postdoctoral fellows.
In the first year of the new millennium, we have seen much growth and many changes in the Geoinstitut. Several of our senior scientists have moved on to professorships in other institutions in Germany and the United States. It is a reflection of the national and international prestige of the institute and the strength of our research programs that so many of our scientists move on to such positions. The inevitable loss of talented scientists does not diminish the overall strength of the institute but allows us to bring in new talent and broaden our research scope. The consequent introduction of new ideas and expertise maintains vitality in our research programs. As in previous years, we have been able to draw young gifted scholars from many nations, underlining the international nature of the institute and enhancing the mobility of people and ideas worldwide.
We look forward in the coming year to building a new research thrust making use of laser-heated diamond anvil cells to extend the pressure-temperature field deeper into the lower mantle. Such an expansion builds naturally on our current programs at lower pressures and temperatures. We have also seen significant growth in collaborative research into the synthesis and characterization of materials having potential for commercial or industrial application, with projects focusing on hard materials, semiconductors and high-temperature superconductors.
The last year has seen the final implementation of our experimental deformation facility. In order to constrain the deformation behavior of the lower mantle, we have completed the first detailed studies of the mechanical behavior of (Mg,Fe)O, arguably the second most important mineral in this region. Experiments were performed to modest and high strains in our gas-medium deformation apparatus, and textural characterization was made using the electron backscatter diffraction technique in our scanning electron microscope. In collaboration with scientists from France, experiments have also been performed on high-temperature superconductors to characterize the role of dislocations in stabilizing superconductivity, and on quasicrystals. Other research programs involve the study of partially or fully molten samples and deformation of multiphase aggregates to high strains typical of shear zones.
While much of the research in the Geoinstitut is performed by institute scientists and students, numerous visitors from around the globe completed research projects using institute facilities in 2000, supported by grants from German, European and a variety of other foreign funding agencies. Of particular note, 2 Alexander von Humboldt-Preisträger, Prof. Jean-Paul Poirier and Prof. Takehiko Yagi, each spent 3 months in the Geoinstitut, collaborating with institute scientists. The interactions of such senior scientists of international renown with our students and scholars provide a strong environment for learning and development. This last year saw the renewal of our EU-supported 'Access to Research Infrastructures' program. Applications for support from non-German European researchers to this program have been very strong and cover a very broad range of disciplines, from geosciences, physics, chemistry and materials science. Scientists in the institute are also heavily involved in several EU-TMR-Networks, which emphasize mobility of young scientists within the European Union.
We would like to express our gratitude to the Free State of Bavaria as represented by the Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst, as well as the Kommission für Geowissenschaftliche Hochdruckforschung for their continuing support of the Bayerisches Geoinstitut. We also acknowledge generous support from external funding agencies, in particular the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the European Union, and the German Science Foundation, which have also contributed greatly to the development and continued success of the Geoinstitut.
|Bayreuth, March 2001
|Stephen J. Mackwell