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About EFree

energy frontier research center logoEFree partners collageEnergy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments center (EFree) at the Geophysical Lab is one of the Department of Energy's 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), a program initiated in 2009. Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao is the director.

Extreme environments of pressure and temperature have long been known to affect radical changes on the structure and properties of matter. The goal of the EFree Center is to explore these and, in particular, to uncover new materials with important relevance for energy based applications. Our focus is to conduct the fundamental research which will underpin the technological advances of the future. The Center’s broad partnership comprises 8 partner universities and 3 national laboratories, in an effort that is coordinated by the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. We hope to accelerate the progress of science by exploiting through a large-scale, multifaceted research program.

The creation of EFree allows partners to expand our fundamental studies of materials under extreme conditions while at the same time focus our research on major problems needed to address major energy challenges facing the nation and the world. These problems include using high pressures and temperatures to make new materials and create materials that can withstand extreme conditions. These materials include new classes of superconductors, superhard materials, high-energy density and hydrogen storage materials, new ferroelectrics and magnetic systems, and materials that resist chemical changes under extreme conditions.

EFree involves high-pressure materials research programs at the Advanced Photon Source (at Argonne National Laboratory) through the Carnegie-run HPSynC facility, as well as at the Spallation Neutron Source (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) at the recently completed beamline that the Carnegie team helped design and construct. 

There were 260 applications. Of the awards, 31 went to universities; 12 to DOE national laboratories; 1 to corporate research labs; Carnegie is one of two non-profit organizations receiving the award. Selection was based on a rigorous merit review process using outside panels composed of scientific experts. The Lab has had a long legacy of research into materials under extreme pressure and temperature environments.

Please see the Department of Energy website ( for more information about the centers.  For more information about Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory see

EFree award number is DE-SC0001057.