Rebecca Smaha

Rebecca Smaha

Postdoctoral Researcher-Directors Fellowship

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Rebecca Smaha joined NREL as a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow in 2021, where she is currently investigating novel metastable ternary nitrides for potential multiferroic applications. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and certificates in materials science and engineering and linguistics from Princeton University in 2014, where she researched solid electrolytes for sodium batteries under the guidance of Professor Bob Cava. Rebecca then received a Fulbright grant to perform solid-state chemistry research in Madrid, Spain, under the guidance of Professor Miguel Alario Franco and Professor Susana García Martín at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She did her doctorate in inorganic chemistry at Stanford University in the applied physics lab of Professor Young Lee, focusing on synthetic minerals that are candidates to host a quantum spin liquid ground state due to their magnetically frustrated kagome lattices. She studied the interplay between the crystallography and magnetism of these materials using various X-ray and neutron scattering techniques.

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Research Interests

Solid-state and materials chemistry

Magnetism and magnetic materials

X-ray and neutron scattering



Ph.D., Chemistry, Stanford University

M.S., Chemistry, Stanford University

A.B., Chemistry, Princeton University

Professional Experience

Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow, NREL (2021–present)

Co-Chair, 2020 and 2022 Gordon Research Seminars: Solid State Chemistry (2020–present)

Single crystal diffractometer trainer/interim crystallographer, Stanford Nano Shared Facilities (2017–2020)

Graduate research assistant, Stanford University (2015–2020)

Fulbright Research Grant, Madrid, Spain (2014–2015)

Associations and Memberships

Member, American Crystallographic Association 

Member, Neutron Scattering Society of America

Member, American Physical Society

Member, Materials Research Society

Featured Work

Emergence of Spin Singlets with Inhomogeneous Gaps in the Kagome Lattice Heisenberg Antiferromagnets Zn-Barlowite and Herbertsmithite, Nature Physics (2021)

Alloying a Single and a Double Perovskite: A Cu+/2+ Mixed-Valence Layered Halide Perovskite with Strong Optical Absorption, Chemical Science (2021)

Site-Specific Structure at Multiple Length Scales in Kagome Quantum Spin Liquid Candidates, Physical Review Materials (2020)

Zero-Obliquity Twin Lattice Quasi-Symmetry Threefold Twinning in 1-{(R)-1-[(3-Oxo-2-Isoindolinoyl)Methyl]-2-Propenyl}-5-Methyl-2,3-Indolinedione, Acta Crystallographica Section B (2020)

Materializing Rival Ground States in the Barlowite Family of Kagome Magnets: Quantum Spin Liquid, Spin Ordered, and Valence Bond Crystal States, npj Quantum Materials (2020)

Synthesis-Dependent Properties of Barlowite and Zn-Substituted Barlowite, Journal of Solid State Chemistry (2018)

Chemical Approaches to Addressing the Instability and Toxicity of Lead–Halide Perovskite Absorbers, Inorganic Chemistry (2016)

Tuning Sodium Ion Conductivity in the Layered Honeycomb Oxide Na3xSn2xSbxNaO6, Inorganic Chemistry (2015)

How Natural Are Artificial Languages? Language Production, Cognition, and the Lexicon (2014)

Awards and Honors

2020 ACA Oxford Cryosystems Low Temperature Poster Prize (2020)

Etter Student Lecturer Award, Neutron Division of the ACA (2019)

ACS Women Chemists Committee/Eli Lilly Travel Award (2018)

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2017–2020)

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (2015)

Fulbright Research Grant, Madrid, Spain (2014)