The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)

Dynamic Compression Sector

Pullman, Washington 99163

The Institute for Shock Physics

A multidisciplinary research organization within the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for Shock Physics (ISP) undertakes a broad range of fundamental scientific activities related to understanding condensed matter response under dynamic and static compression.  Washington State University has a long and distinguished history of conducting research in dynamic compression science.  In 1997, the Institute was established with support from the DOE (Defense Programs) to ensure a strong, long-term academic base for the DOE’s national security mission, and is currently funded through NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Academic Alliance (SSAA) program, WSU funds, and other extra-mural support. 

Continuum-to-Atomic level understanding is the pervading scientific theme of the research activities that emphasize integration of innovative experiments with theoretical and computational advances.  Multidisciplinary efforts that combine expertise in Physics, Materials Science, Chemistry, and Mechanical Engineering are underway to address several exciting and challenging scientific problems.  In addition to the faculty within the Institute, students and faculty from several departments within the College of Arts and Sciences and the College Engineering participate in the Institute’s research projects.  Excellent research interactions are in place with the NNSA National Laboratories:  Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia. 

A brief summary of the Institute’s activities follows.  Experimental work, under dynamic compression, typically involves fast, time-resolved measurements in single event, impact experiments.  Research projects currently underway include: time-resolved X -ray diffraction studies; pressure induced structural phase transitions; understanding of inelastic deformation and failure under dynamic loading; effect of material microstructure on dynamic deformation; chemical decomposition in energetic materials; development of fast optical methods to probe shock induced changes; effect of deformation on semiconductor properties; high pressure equation of state studies; and chemical and physical changes under static high pressures.  Since Professor C. S. Yoo’s appointment in 2007, a strong static high pressure research program has complemented the shock wave effort.  

State-of-the-art experimental and computational facilities are housed in the Shock Physics Building.  Inaugurated in 2003, the building was designed specifically for shock wave research and represents a unique facility among academic institutions.  The major experimental research facilities available for studying physical and chemical phenomena over a large range of length and time scales include the Impact Laboratory, Laser Shock Laboratory, Static High Pressure Laboratory, and the Compact Pulsed Power Facility.  Among the Institute’s research capabilities is a Computational Facility designed to complement the experimental effort.  Further details may be seen at 

In addition to the facilities in Pullman, WA, The Institute is also leading the development/operation of a National user facility dedicated to dynamic compression science.  See below for more information about the DCS.

Dynamic Compression Sector (DCS)

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the Department of Energy (DOE) is sponsoring the development of this first-of-a-kind user facility. Washington State University is partnering with the APS and collaborating with the DOE/NNSA National Laboratories (Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia), Department of Defense Laboratories including the Army Research Laboratory and Naval Research Laboratory, and academic institutions in developing and building the DCS infrastructure and instrumentation at Sector 35 on the APS experiment hall floor.

The DCS, with a focus on time-resolved X-ray diffraction and imaging measurements in materials subjected to dynamic compression, provides in-situ, time-resolved, measurements at microscopic length scales to achieve a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms governing a broad range of time-dependent, condensed matter phenomena (structural transformations, inelastic deformation and fracture, and chemical reactions) under dynamic loading.  Such measurements are also essential for validating multi-scale modeling of the key materials phenomena under shock wave and shockless compression. 

The energies (hard X-rays) and the time-structure (ns-separated pulses) of the APS X-rays are uniquely suited to examine time-dependent changes in materials subjected to a broad range of peak stresses (to well over 350 GPa) and time-durations (~5 ns to microsecond). The DCS, with its emphasis on condensed matter and materials science activities using a variety of dynamic compression platforms, is an excellent complement to other national user facilities that emphasize static pressure materials response, warm dense matter response, and dense plasma response.

The DCS is an exciting and visionary scientific undertaking that integrates scientific/technical expertise across the DOE (NNSA and the Office of Science) to address both scientific and programmatic challenges.  Further information about DCS may be found at

Washington State University

Washington State University, one of the two research universities in the state, was founded in 1890 as the state’s land-grant institution and is located in Pullman with regional campuses in Spokane, Vancouver and the Tri-Cities.  It is a Carnegie Doctoral/Research Extensive University with a strong emphasis on excellence in research and education.  Current enrollment is approximately 28,600 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.  The University offers more than 200 fields of study, with 95 majors for undergraduates, 64 master’s degree programs, 44 doctoral degree programs, and 2 professional degree programs.  Academically, the University is organized into 10 colleges (Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences; Arts and Sciences; Business; Communication; Education; Engineering and Architecture; Honors; Nursing; Pharmacy; Veterinary Medicine) and a Graduate School.  Further information about WSU may be found at


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Pullman Washington 99163
United States
Additional Locations
Spokane, WA and Argonne, IL

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