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Wendy Mao, PhD

Professor, Geological Sciences

Professor, Photon Science Directorate

Professor (By courtesy), Geophysics

(650) 723-3718

The main focus of my research lies in understanding the behavior of materials under compression. High pressure science is exceedingly multidisciplinary. Pressure induces dramatic changes in materials, adding a new dimension to applications in Earth, planetary, environmental, energy-related, biological, electromagnetic, optical, superhard and nano- materials, and contributing to our fundamental understanding of condensed-matter physics and chemistry. Pressure is also a clean, continuous, tuning knob for fundamental scientific research: testing theories, discovering new phenomena and novel materials.


BS, Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998

PhD, Geophysical Sciences University of Chicago, 2005


Research Interests

My research focuses on using extreme environments to provide guidance for the the design of new materials for energy-related applications, to answer key questions about Earth and planetary interiors, and improve our understanding of fundamental physics and chemistry.

Our group has been investigating a number of strongly correlated, hydrogen storage, and battery materials using a suite of in-situ probes including many x-ray scattering techniques to study changes in properties at extreme conditions in these materials. Concurrently we have also been working to develop high-pressure x-ray capabilities and collaborating with theory groups for interpreting our results.


  • Experimental Mineral Physics; Condensed Matter Physics
  • Novel hydrogen storage and Battery materials; Synchrotron x-ray techniques;
  • High-Pressure Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Petrology
  • Volatiles in Planetary Systems



See Publications for Wendy Mao, PhD