Our research

We are a materials chemistry group studying novel synthesis routes under extreme compression. We use cutting-edge techniques to subject samples to pressures on the order of millions of atmospheres, allowing us to access exotic states of matter and synthesize previously undiscovered solid-state compounds. We also use first-principles calculations to explore high-pressure phase space in silico, and to study the bulk properties of newly discovered phases.

X-ray Diffraction | Solid-State Synthesis

High-Pressure Synthesis

High pressure represents a vastly unexplored phase space where novel compounds can be synthesized and recovered back to ambient conditions. We use experimental high-pressure synthesis techniques to discover completely new solid-state compounds that could underpin future advances in technology.

Density Functional Theory | High-Throughput Computation

Structure Prediction

Modern first-principles methods can be used to accurately calculate the formation enthalpy of any given structure. We use random structure searching tools to perform high-throughput DFT calculations in search of undiscovered high-pressure phases. We also use machine learning methods to investigate how pressure can influence chemical disorder in the solid state.

Dynamic Compression | X-ray Diffraction | Modelling

Shockwave Chemistry

Shockwaves subject materials to very high pressures over extremely short timescales, potentially offering a route toward the kinetic control of solid-state transformations. We use cutting-edge in situ X-ray diffraction methods to examine phase transformations under dynamic compression.

Magnetism | Spectroscopy | X-ray Diffraction

Novel Quantum Materials

Systems that exhibit magnetic frustration are a direct route to exotic new states of matter dominated by quantum fluctuations. Control over these delicate quantum states is an outstanding challenge in chemistry and physics. We are using high pressures to target novel quantum phases in geometrically frustrated systems.

Meet the Group

James Walsh

Assistant Professor

 Curriculum Vitae
 (413) 545-1557 •  PSB 173

Scott Ambos

Graduate Student

Kim Bolduc

Graduate Student

Nick Manganaro

Graduate Student

Paul Marshall

Graduate Student

Scott Thiel

Graduate Student

Zeynep Alptekin

Undergraduate Student

Vidula Kunte

Undergraduate Student

Wyatt Mitchell

Undergraduate Student


Recent News


Kim wins a poster award at ResearchFest 2022

Kim won a first-place award for her poster presentation at the UMass Chemistry Department's ResearchFest 2022. Here she is receiving her award certificate from department head Rick Metz.


Scott's zirconium carbide paper is published

Scott's paper reporting on the use of cluster expansion to study the effect of pressure on vacancies in zirconium carbide has been published in Advanced Theory and Simulations. Nice work, Scott!


Kim wins a poster award at the High Pressure GRC

Kim won an award for her poster presentation of her shockwave work at the 2022 Research at High Pressure GRC. Her prize was a copy of Sergei Stishov's book The ABCs of High Pressure.


Kim presents her work at the Materials Colloquium

Kim delivered the final talk of this semester's UMass Amherst Materials Colloquium, presenting an update on her work on in situ X-ray diffraction of shocked materials.


Wyatt wins the Roger G. Bates Fund for summer research

Wyatt was awarded the Roger G. Bates Fund to support his research in our lab over the summer. He will continue his work on the high-pressure synthesis of novel carbides.


Zeynep wins the UMass Rising Researcher award

Zeynep was awarded the 2021–2022 UMass Rising Researcher Award for her outstanding achievements in research! Read more about her award here.


Best poster award for Zeynep

Zeynep has been awarded the Uche Anyanwu Memorial Award for her poster presentation at the Chemistry Undergraduate Poster Session. She presented her work on the high-pressure synthesis of cobalt cementite.


Zeynep wins the Goldwater Scholarship

Zeynep was awarded the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship—one of only three students from UMass to receive the honor! Read more about her award here.


Kim calls the shots at the DCS

Kim led the Walsh Lab's first laser shock GUP beamtime at the Dynamic Compression Sector at the Advanced Photon Source, collecting our first in situ XRD and VISAR dataset!