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Washington State University Institute for Shock Physics

Research Associates

Weizhao Cai

Postdoctoral Research Associate

(509) 335-7054

Scientific Interests and Work

Structural and chemical changes of energetic crystals under dynamic and static compression states

Pressure is an efficient tool to tune the structural and electronic properties of the materials and even can lead to chemical reactions of molecular crystals. Dr. Cai’s current research interests are mainly on the structural and chemical changes of energetic molecular crystals under both static pressure (diamond anvil cells) and dynamic compression (shock wave). Raman spectroscopy and synchrotron X-ray diffraction techniques are employed in these studies.


Dr. Cai’s Ph.D. research focused on the structural response of molecular crystals and metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) under extreme conditions using high-pressure single crystal diffraction method. After finishing his Ph.D. study, he moved to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utah and worked as a postdoctoral researcher from November, 2014 to June, 2017. Dr. Cai performed synchrotron X-ray power diffraction, micro-Raman spectroscopy and conductivity measurements to study the pressure effect on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In addition, he also took part in the project of structures of lithium isotopes under extreme conditions and helped to analyze the X-ray data.


Ph.D. (Chemistry), 2014, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
M.Sc. (Material Physics and Chemistry), 2009, Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Fuzhou, China
B.E (Materials Science), 2005, Central South University, Changsha, China

Honors and Recognition

  • The Commission Award of Polish Chemical Society in the competition for the best doctoral thesis in 2014 (September, 2015)
  • The 3rd edition competition of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznań for the creative original article of doctoral student published in 2014 in the area of Science and Earth Sciences (June, 2015)

Representative Publications

  1. Cai, R. Zhang, Y. Yao and S. Deemyad, Piezochromism, Structural and Electronic Properties of Benz[a]anthracene under Pressure, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2017, 19, 6216–6223.
  2. Cai, M. Dunuwille, J. He, T. V Taylor, J. K Hinton, M. C MacLean, J. J. Molaison, S. Sinogeikin, A. M. dos Santos, S. Deemyad, Deuterium Isotope Effects in Polymerization of Benzene Under Pressure, J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2017, 8, 1856–1864.
  3. Cai, A. Gładysiak, M. Anioła, V. J. Smith, L. J. Barbour, A. Katrusiak. Giant Negative Area Compressibility Tunable in a Soft Porous Framework Material. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2015, 137, 9296–9301.
  4. Cai, A. Katrusiak. Giant Negative Linear Compression Positively Coupled to Massive Thermal Expansion in a Metal-Organic Framework. Nature Comm, 2014, 5, 4337.