D.K.C. MacDonald Memorial Lecturer

The D.K.C. MacDonald Memorial Lecturer is an important focus of the conference and the Lecturer is chosen by the Chair of the conference.

2023 Recipient: Gianluigi Botton, McMaster University


From Electrons to Photons and From Plasmons to Phonons. What can we Learn from State-of-the-Art Characterization Techniques?

Electron microscopes are very power tools to study the structure of materials at unprecedented spatial and energy resolution. These improvements are the results of the numerous efforts and foresight of the pioneers in electron optics, instrument developers and risk takers that have led to commercial aberration correctors, monochromators and new detectors. These new tools have increased the performance and information content that can be obtained from electron microscopes. While physicists, chemists and materials scientists benefit tremendously from these improvements, we need to be mindful of the fact that there are many other tools that provide complementary information and that there are limitations to all techniques. In this presentation, I will show some recent examples of electron microscopy work related to the quantum materials, battery materials and detection of plasmonic modes in complex noble metal structures and phonon excitations in crystals. Then I will focus on the complementary photon-based techniques that are available in synchrotrons. With energies ranging from sub-meV to 100keV, there is a wealth of information that can be extracted from imaging, spectroscopy and scattering methods, from bonding environments of single atom catalysts, electronic structure of buried interfaces, and Fermi surfaces, to imaging of cochlear implants, spectroscopy in in-operando conditions and trace contaminants in the eyes of zebra fish larvae and whales. These examples highlight the benefits of considering multiple techniques when one needs to understand the structure and composition of a very broad range of materials.

Gianluigi Botton received a degree in Engineering Physics and a PhD in Materials Engineering from Ecole Polytechnique of Montréal. He was Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge from 1993 to 1998. He joined the Materials Technology Laboratory of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) in 1998 as a research scientist. In 2001 he moved to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at McMaster University where he holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Electron Microscopy of Nanoscale Materials. He received the Metal Physics Medal of the Canadian Materials Science Conference (2017), the Lee Hsun Research Award from the Institute Metals Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2017), the Microbeam Analysis Society Presidential Award (2020) and he is Fellow of the Microscopy Society of America and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Prof. Botton established the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy-CCEM, a national facility for ultrahigh-resolution microscopy, and was its director for over 11 years. In May 2019, he became the Science Director at the Canadian Light Source, Canada’s synchrotron while he continues to hold is academic appointment and his research at McMaster University. In his academic role at McMaster, Prof. Botton has established an impressive research record, having secured more than $50M in funding as Principal Investigator and $90M as a co-investigator, with more than 350 peer-reviewed publications and over 50 highly qualified personnel trained in his group.

Metal Chemistry Award

History: The Metal Chemistry Award was conceived by Professor H. Hancock of the Technical University of Nova Scotia in 1988 to recognize outstanding contributions to metallurgical chemistry as epitomized by the inaugural winner, Professor L.M. Pidgeon of the University of Toronto. Since the time of its inception, the award has included recipients from universities, industry and government laboratories engaged in research activities ranging from hydrometallurgy, molten salt chemistry, corrosion and fundamental physical chemistry bearing upon smelting and refining processes.

2023 Recipient: Edward (Ted) Roberts, University of Calgary


Metal Chemistry in Electrocoagulation and Redox Flow Battery Technologies

Sacrificial iron or aluminum electrodes are used in electrocoagulation water treatment processes. The process involves simultaneous metal dissolution and hydrogen evolution, leading to formation of metal hydroxide coagulants. Electrode fouling / passivation leads to operational challenges, and polarity reversal is typically used to mitigate these detrimental processes. Recent studies on the impact of solution chemistry and operating conditions on the fouling and electrode processes will be presented1,2. Visualization of the pH boundary layer and gas-solid-liquid interactions in the electrode boundary layer (see Figure 1) have provided new insights into the electrocoagulation process.

In redox flow batteries (RFBs), redox active metal species dissolved in liquid electrolytes are used to store energy. Metal solutions are pumped through the battery during charge and discharge. RFBs are being developed and commercialized for energy storage on electricity networks, to integrate intermittent renewable energy and to improve network performance. Widely used metals used in RFB systems include zinc, vanadium, iron and chromium. Performance of RFBs depends upon the metal chemistry, including the redox potential, solubility, electrochemical activity, and speciation. The effect of metal impurities in the electrolyte and approaches being used to develop new RFB systems with improved performance and lower cost will be discussed.

Figure 1. Operando visualization of pH distribution and phases close to an aluminum cathode during electrocoagulation, obtained by laser scanning fluorescence microscopy. In synthetic process water (a), with a low buffering capacity, the high pH at the electrode mitigates aluminum hydroxide fouling, while for field samples with high buffering capacity, the pH at the electrode is lower, leading to precipitation close to the electrode surface and associated fouling.


  1. Fuladpanjeh-Hojaghan, Elsutohy, Trifkovic, Roberts(2019) In-Operando Mapping of pH Distribution in Electrochemical Processes. Chem. 131, 16971 –16975.
  2. Chow, Ingelsson, Roberts, Pham (2021) How does periodic polarity reversal affect the faradaic efficiency and electrode fouling during iron electrocoagulation? Water Research 203, 117497.

Dr. Edward (Ted) Roberts is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary. He has a 30-year track record in research and innovation in the field of electrochemical engineering. Dr. Roberts received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, and he was a faculty member at the University of Manchester for 16 years before moving to the University of Calgary. He is a co-inventor of >25 granted patents and has published more than 130 journal articles. Dr. Roberts founded successful start-up Arvia Technology Ltd, based on an innovative water treatment technology developed in his lab. In the field of redox flow batteries, he pioneered novel concepts including non-aqueous and metal organic redox systems, which are now being pursued by many groups and companies around the world. Dr. Roberts has received several awards for innovation including the IChemE Water Innovation Award and a European Academic Enterprise Award. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, and leads the NSERC CREATE program in Materials for Electrochemical Energy Solutions.

Metal Physics Award

History: The Metal Physics Award was conceived by Professor T.S. Hutchison of the Royal Military College of Canada to recognize achievements in fundamental physics of importance to the understanding of metals as materials. At the time of its first award to Z.S. Basinski in 1977, the advancement of dislocation theory was the very essence of the kind of achievement the award was intended to recognize. Although the Award since that time has been awarded for excellence in a much broader range of research achievement including advancement in non-metallic materials.

2023 Recipient: Dr. Chad Sinclair, The University of British Columbia


A Scientific Approach to Sustainable Development: What Can Metal Physics Offer?

Material production is responsible for nearly one third of all greenhouse gas emissions. The primary production of aluminum, alone, has a particularly significant environmental impact, contributing 1% of global energy demand and 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. As the demand for commodity metals continues to rise, it is imperative that we, as a community, find ways to reduce the impact of metals on energy consumption and the environment. Basic science, including metal physics, has the potential to play a crucial role in achieving this goal. In my talk, I will explore the challenges associated 1) decarbonized steel production and 2) increased recycling of aluminum alloys. In both cases I will emphasize how a better understanding of the role of trace elements can simultaneously benefit properties and sustainable development.

Dr. Chad Sinclair obtained his B.Eng. and Ph.D. in materials engineering from McMaster University. He then worked as a post-doctoral fellow jointly at the UGINE-ALZ (now APERAM) Stainless Steel Research Centre and INP Grenoble (France) on topics related to the processing and properties of ferritic stainless steels. In 2002, he joined the Department of Materials Engineering at UBC as an Assistant Professor where he is now Full Professor and Associate Head for Undergraduate Studies. He is past Director of the Masters of Engineering Leadership in Advanced Materials Manufacturing and current Director of the NSERC CREATE Net Zero in Materials and Manufacturing (Net0MM) program. His research ranges from experimental mechanical and microstructural studies of engineering alloys to the development of new simulation tools for atomic-scale property prediction.

View the past recipients of the CMSC awards