Senate Faculty

Specialty Areas

Constitution and evolution of planets; planetary interiors; materials at high pressures

Research Interests

Raymond Jeanloz and his group study the nature and evolution of planetary interiors, as well as the properties of materials at high pressures.  Much of their work is based on experiments with laser-heated diamond-anvil cells, as well as shock and other dynamic-compression experiments, and they also apply quantum mechanical calculations to understanding material properties. 

Experiments using laser-shock methods on samples pre-compressed in diamond-anvil cells are providing new information about the chemical bonding in crystals and fluids at deep-planetary conditions, and are extending laboratory compression experiments from the Megabar to the Gigabar range:  beyond the atomic unit of pressure (294 Mbar), and into the regime of "kilovolt chemistry" that engages inner atomic orbitals in chemical bonding.



Raymond Jeanloz uses mineral physics to understand the properties, dynamics and evolution of planetary interiors.  His group has pioneered combining diamond anvils with laser-driven compression to provide laboratory access to atomic-scale pressures (0.3 Gbar) and new states of chemical bonding (“kilovolt chemistry”).  He leads one of the first university teams to perform experiments at the National Ignition Facility, and is also Editor of the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences.  

His research helped provide the first experimental constraints on the temperature at Earth's center, showing that it is much higher than previously thought, and also documented that a single perovskite-structured mineral (stable only at pressures above 20 GPa) makes up the bulk of our planet's rocky interior.  His group showed that Earth's deep mantle reacts chemically with the liquid iron alloy of the outer core, identifying the core-mantle boundary as one of Earth's most dynamic regions.  Studies on carbon suggest that diamond may be hailing downward inside Neptune, Uranus and similar planets.

His PhD is from the California Institute of Technology and, after a faculty appointment at Harvard University, he joined the University of California at Berkeley.  In addition to his teaching and scientific research, he is a longstanding adviser to the U.S. Government and the University of California in areas ranging from Earth science and science education to national and international security.  He is past chair of the National Research Council Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, American Physical Society and Mineralogical Society of America, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.  He is currently an Annenberg Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, serves on the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board, and chairs the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control.