The conceptual device that was to eventually become the piston-cylinder apparatus was originally theorized from Dr. H. Tracy Hall’s “belt” apparatus, a product of the GE Laboratories in the 1950’s. The “belt” apparatus facilitated the first laboratory synthesis of diamond, when in 1960 Boyd and England of the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution of Washington DC built the first piston cylinder device.
In 1978 Patera and Holloway modified the design. Dr. Holloway later accepted a joint-position in the departments of chemistry and geology at Arizona State University, where he established a rigorous and world-renown high pressure geochemistry research laboratory. As experience with the instrumentation accumulated, Dr. Holloway further innovated the equipment making it easy and inexpensive to operate. The QUICKpress, as it became known, was designed to simultaneously provide temperature between 25°C and 1800°C and pressure from 0.3 to 4GPa, thereby enabling researchers to synthesize a wide range of new, technologically-important materials and to advance understanding of the behavior of the Earth's mantle and extra-terrestrial lithospheres and atmospheres.
Dr. Holloway founded Depths of the Earth Company in 1989 with the express purpose of designing, building, and selling QUICKpress non-endloaded piston-cylinder high-pressure devices and providing the supplies needed for their operation. Dr. Tracy Paul joined Depths of the Earth Company in 1993. Her research employed high resolution atomic microscopy techniques to describe the thermal annealing behavior of nuclear fission damage in geologic materials that serve as indicators of the thermal history of mountain range uplift and basin subsidence. In the course of her research, she designed and directed the construction of a cooling stage for the transmission electron microscope (TEM), that is used for stabilizing and imaging electron-sensitive materials. The inexhaustible number of new chemical combinations and atomic structures possible through high-pressure high-temperature synthesis, combined with the talent to build ideas into reality, supplied the intrigue that fueled and continues to fuel, Dr. Paul’s interest in Depths of the Earth Company’s commercial pursuits.
Throughout the late 1990’s technology advanced and innovations were thoughtfully incorporated into the QUICKpress apparatus. The apparatus became sleek and stream lined. Computer assisted micro-machining of specialty alloys and components provided the basis of the framework and hydraulics system. The control unit employed state of the art microprocessors, sensors, and relays to regulate the pressure and temperature stability of experiments, all the while providing built-in safety stops.
In 1994 the company completed its first expansion by moving to a 1600 sq. ft. facility that included a research, development, assembly and testing laboratory and a business office. As 2000 approached, use of the QUICKpress piston-cylinder had advanced our understanding of the physical and chemical properties of the Earth's interior; information that became salient to a variety of geologic topics, including Earthquake studies, heat, fluid, and energy transport investigations and crustal evolution simulations. Growth continued throughout the first decade of 2000 with the hiring of a full-time research and development scientist.
Dr. Holloway retired from academics and business in 2008. As a Professor Emeritus, his scientific pursuits continue to weave through and influence the high-pressure high-temperature experimental community. The company’s daily operation and future vision remains under the guidance of Dr. Paul.
2009 promises to deliver the QUICKpress into the scientific communities of Asia in geology, chemistry, physics, materials engineering, and biology applications. Twenty years after it’s inception, the company’s mission remains to provide state of the art equipment and supplies that serve the needs of scientists engaged in high-pressure high-temperature materials research.