Shock research institute launched

ImperialCollegeLondon is launching a £10m research institute to study shock waves, high velocity collisions and the extremes of pressure and heat. It will focus on understanding what happens to matter under such conditions and yield insights into the science of shockwaves, which is of value to earth scientists, engineers, space agencies, and medics.

New laboratory equipment will enable the recreation of high-pressure conditions such as those that occur during a meteorite strike. Researchers will be able to record and analyse how materials respond to extremes of pressure and heat at the molecular level and will be able to track the movement of resulting shockwaves through affected material. This will be applied to analyse the effects of meteorite impacts, use shockwaves to break up kidney stones and understand how tsunamis are formed.

The institute will increase UK capabilities in the field of shockwave science by attracting and training new researchers. A range of scientists will benefit including those designing future spacecraft and satellites.

The institute’s interim director Prof Steven Rose, said: ‘The institute will bring together a team of scientists and engineers who each specialise in different aspects of shock physics: experimental, theoretical and computational. Together this group of specialists will work to understand and accurately predict the outcomes of very fast impacts, wherever they take place.’

The project is part-funded over five years by the Atomics Weapons Establishment. This funding will facilitate the appointment of six academic research appointments, a director, programme director, assistant and 20 PhD studentships.