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

John Arigbede

Graduate Student

Liz Cote

Graduate Student

Nick Manganaro

Graduate Student

Paul Marshall

Graduate Student

Kim Pereira

Graduate Student

Scott Thiel

Graduate Student

Zeynep Alptekin

Undergraduate Student

Wyatt Mitchell

Undergraduate Student

Chris Walsh

Undergraduate Student


Recent News

California Reunion

James visited Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to deliver a seminar in the Materials Science Division. While there, he caught up with Kim and Zeynep, who are both interning at the lab over the summer and doing great science!


John joins the Walsh Lab

After passing his qualifying exam with flying colors, John Arigbede is now officially a PhD candidate in the Walsh Lab! He will work on studying our newly discovered electron-rich transition metal carbides as heterogeneous catalysts.


The Walsh Lab receives funding from the ACS PRF

The Walsh Lab has been awarded a grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund to study our novel transition metal carbides as heterogeneous catalysts! We are very grateful to the Petroleum Research Fund for their support.


Wyatt and Zeynep win department awards

The Walsh Lab was well represented at the Chemistry Department Awards Dinner, with Wyatt receiving the John A. Chandler Memorial Scholarship and Zeynep taking home the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Undergraduate Award. Well done to both!


Nick and Scott attend the CONUSS workshop

Nick and Scott traveled to the Advanced Photon Source to learn how to work up synchrotron Mössbauer data during an intensive three-day workshop. Thank you to the organizers for putting on a fantastic workshop!


Carbides subgroup visits XPD at NSLS-II

Liz Cote, Scott Thiel, and Paul Marshall carried out some high-pressure synthesis reactions on the large volume press at beamline 28-ID-2 at the NSLS-II. Thank you to Matt Whitaker for being a fantastic host!


Kim earns a HEDS internship

Kim will be spending the summer as a High Energy Density Science Center (HEDS) Grad Student at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She will participate in experiments across Omega, MEC, JLF, and DiPOLE.


Zeynep earns a SULI internship

The DOE Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) program will support Zeynep for a summer internship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where she will help to prepare and study a new class of thermal barrier coatings.


Nick and Scott visit Sector 3

Nick Manganaro and Scott Ambos spent four days collecting high-pressure synchrotron Mössbauer at Sector 3 of the APS. Thank you to Barbara Lavina and Ercan Alp for helping us collect some great data!


Liz joins the Walsh Lab

We are excited to welcome Liz Cote to the Walsh Lab! Liz joins us from the University of New Haven, where she worked with the group of Prof. Dequan Xiao on the design of molecular catalysts for polymer degradations. Liz will join the carbides subgroup.


The Walsh Lab receives an NSF CAREER award

The Walsh Lab has been awarded an NSF CAREER grant to fund our work on the development of novel methods for high-pressure synthesis! We are very grateful to the Division of Materials Research for their support.


Kim wins two department awards

Kim was the recipient of not one but two chemistry graduate fellowships awarded through the department. She received both the Donald Kuhn Graduate Fellowship Award and the PPG Fellowship. Congratulations, Kim!


Paul and Scott attend to pressing matters

Paul Marshall and Scott Thiel set sail for Long Island to perform large volume press synthesis experiments at beamline 28-ID-2 of the NSLS-II. Here is a photograph of the Lab's first Kawai assembly. Thank you to Matt Whitaker for making the experiments a success!


Nick and Scott take their crystals to the extreme

Nick Manganaro and Scott Ambos visited the Partnership for Extreme Crystallography beamline at the Advanced Photon Source in Chicago to perform high-pressure X-ray crystallography experiments. Thank you to Dongzhou Zhang and Phuong Nguyen for training and assistance!


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.


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.


Zeynep wins a poster award at the Undergrad Poster Session

Zeynep was 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!