They are often used in artificial diamond creation and research, as they mimic the pressures and temperatures that exist deep in the Earth.
The multi-anvil press is a relatively rare research tool. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's two presses have been used for a variety of material property studies, including diffusion and deformation of ceramics and metals, deep-focus earthquakes, and the high-pressure stability of mineral phases. The larger, 1,200-ton hydraulic press can produce pressures of 25 gigapascals (GPa), which is equivalent to 250,000 times the atmospheric pressure at sea level, or the pressure that occurs 700 kilometers deep in the Earth. In addition to pressing on the sample, the experiment passes an electric current through a furnace within the assembly to generate temperatures up to 2,200°C.
The multi-anvil press falls between two other types of devices: the diamond anvil cell (100-GPa pressures on a 20-micrometer sample) and the piston-cylinder press (4-GPa pressures on a 500 millimeter sample).