Shocking Matter to Extreme Conditions

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Science  15 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5328, pp. 909-910
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5328.909

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Understanding how matter behaves at high pressure is essential for astrophysics, condensed matter physics, and other fields. In their Perspective, Gupta and Sharma discuss results from a group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in which intense laser energy was used to generate shock waves in hydrogen and deuterium. The results are used to determine the equation of state, which governs how pressure, volume, and temperature are related in a material. In particular, the laser shock studies show that molecular dissociation must be accounted for in models of the equation of state of nature's simplest atomic species.