Ho-kwang Mao's research centers on ultra-high pressure physics, chemistry, material sciences, geophysics, geochemistry and planetary sciences using diamond-anvil cell techniques that he has pioneered. He received a Ph.D and MSc from University of Rochester in 1968 and 1966, and a BSc in geology from National University in Taiwan, China in 1963.
He started as a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Peter M. Bell at the Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and later became a Staff Geophysicist there ever since.
During the past four decades, he has pioneered the development of high-pressure diamond-anvil cell techniques and a wide range of synchrotron x-ray, neutron, optical, electrical, and magnetic probes for in-situ diagnosis of samples under extreme pressures and temperatures.
His research interests covers high pressure condensed-matter physics, high pressure chemistry, high pressure crystallography, chemistry of the Earth’s mantle and core, deep Earth geophysics, physics and chemistry of giant planetary interiors, and high pressure materials science.
At the University of Rochester, he conducted high-pressure deep Earth research under the guidance of Professors Bill Bassett and Taro Takahashi.