Beginning January 1st, 2018
B.Sc. (Mount Allison University, 2000)
M.Sc. (McGill University, 2002)
B.Ed. (Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2005)
Ph.D. (Dalhousie University, 2013)
Postdoc (Collège-de-France, Paris, France, 2014-2015)
Postdoc (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA, 2015-2017)
Our research is focused on the design of new functional materials through a combination of high-throughput synthesis along with more traditional solid-state chemistry approaches. Of immediate interest are novel materials for a wide variety of battery technologies including positive electrodes for Li-ion batteries (nearing maturity), Na and Mg-ion batteries (not to market, still in development) as well as solid electrolytes for all-solid-batteries (a promising technology with significant engineering and chemistry related issues still needing to be resolved). Such research is of highest priority for immediate societal needs including the widespread implementation of electric vehicles as well as off-grid storage given that the use of intermittent renewal energy sources drives the need for better batteries.
One key approach that we use involves a combinatorial synthesis approach that allows efficient screening of materials across broad and extremely complex composition spaces. Our group applies a proven method using co-precipitation reactions to make mg-scale samples which are then characterized in an automated manner with X-ray diffraction [ref. 3 in publication list], but we are also developing high-throughput electrochemical techniques in order to characterize the vast arrays of samples in a more comprehensive manner. These techniques will allow the rapid screening of novel materials across the multi-component systems now used commercially (e.g. Li-Ni-Mn-Co-O for Li-ion batteries) as well as the materials proposed for next-generation batteries as well as technologies beyond Li-ion.
Complementary to the high-throughput approach, our group uses traditional solid-state synthesis to make bulk samples in order to study in detail the mechanisms taking place during operation of the batteries and to ensure that the results obtained on the small combinatorial samples scale up. These studies [e.g. refs. 1,2 and 4 below] involve a wide variety of characterization techniques including X-ray photoemission spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy, DFT calculations, Mössbauer spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, neutron diffraction and synchrotron XRD. The vast number of experimental techniques required for such work provides students with numerous opportunities to collaborate with world-class researchers. This interdisciplinary work is extended further by also studying electronic transport and magnetic properties of key novel materials developed within the context of the battery research.
Representative publications (full list available at on Google Scholar Citations):
E. McCalla, et al. Visualization of O-O peroxo-like dimers in high-capacity layered oxides for Li-ion batteries, Science 350, 1516 (2015)
E. McCalla et al. Understanding the roles of anionic redox and oxygen release in lithium-rich layered Li4FeSbO6. Journal of the American Chemical Society 137 4804 (2015).
E. McCalla, A.W. Rowe, R. Shunmugasundaram and J.R. Dahn, A structural study of the Li-Mn-Ni oxide pseudo-ternary system of interest for positive electrodes of Li-ion batteries, Chemistry of Materials 25, 989 (2013).
M. Saubanère, E. McCalla, J.-M. Tarascon and M.L. Doublet. The Intriguing Question of Anionic Redox in High-Energy Cathodes for Li-ion Batteries, Energy and Environmental Science 9, 984 (2016).
E. McCalla, J. Walter and C. Leighton. A unified view of the substitution-dependent antiferrodistortive phase transition in SrTiO3, Chemistry of Materials 28, 7973 (2016)