- Phase transitions in minerals and functional materials (magnetics, ferroelectrics, ferroelastics, multiferroics, unconventional superconductors).
Professor Carpenter's research, in the field of mineral physics, seeks to address the question of how the structures of minerals adapt to changes in their environment, in terms of pressure, temperature, stress, etc. both instantaneously and over geological time. In particular, many minerals undergo spontaneous changes in structure, or 'phase transitions', at discrete pressure and temperatures, and these can have dramatic consequences for their thermodynamic, optical, electrical, magnetic or other properties. An underlying theory of the factors determining how these properties evolve, due to a Russian physicist, L D Landau, is being explored using experimental techniques such as transmission electron microscopy, calorimetry, X-ray diffraction, vibrational spectroscopy and Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy. Potential applications of this work are in the fields of geology, physics and materials science.