Ottawa invests $1 million in UVic research, tech transfer

Science research and technology transfer at the University of Victoria got a shot in the arm on Feb. 20 with a $1.04-million grant from Western Economic Diversification Canada.
The funding, announced on campus by Minister of Western Economic Diversification Rona Ambrose, will go to four projects that are purchasing or upgrading scientific equipment and a fifth project that is expanding services to the advanced technology sector on Vancouver Island.

“We are delighted that Western Economic Diversification Canada has invested in these projects,” says UVic President David Turpin. “The equipment and facilities being funded are supporting world-class research that will be of direct benefit to Canadians in fields as diverse as coastal management, drug development, alternative energy and information processing.”

The projects are:

Upgrade of nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. NMR spectrometers are used by researchers to describe the structure of molecules they study or make. The Department of Chemistry’s current 300-megahertz NMR spectrometer is an essential piece of equipment that supports research with potential applications in areas as broad as drug development, alternative energy sources, advanced waste treatment and new information processing and storage technologies.

The new funding will replace the spectrometer’s console. “It will not only improve the quality of the results,” says UVic chemist Lisa Rosenberg, “ but will hugely expand the repertoire of experiments we can perform on our samples using this instrument.”

Raman microscope. Raman microscopes provide images of the chemical and structural composition of a wide range of materials. The new microscope will be used by UVic chemists and engineers to identify and develop advanced nanotechnology materials such as nanoscale microprocessors, which could be used in new generations of chips for computers. Nanoscale is 500,000 times smaller than a pinhead, encompassing the diameter of a DNA molecule.

UVic physicists such as Andrew Jirasek will also use the microscope to obtain chemical maps of irradiated biological tissues to better understand radiation damage in patients undergoing radiation therapy for cancer.

Electron beam lithography (EBL) system. The EBL system to be installed in UVic’s Department of Physics uses a beam of electrons to construct new structures or circuitry patterns as small as 50 to a few hundred atoms wide. This technology allows researchers to build micro-structures, such as new electronic and magnetic devices, with components smaller than the width of a human hair.

“With this system, we’ll be able to build devices 100 times smaller than what was previously possible on Vancouver Island,” says UVic physicist and department chair Mike Roney. “The level of research activity and commercial opportunities in these nanoscale technologies is increasing nationwide. We’re excited that Vancouver Island will have the tools to more fully engage in these new enterprises.”

VENUS monitoring system for undersea slope stability. This project will design, build and deploy an 8-km extension to the Strait of Georgia leg of the VENUS cabled subsea observatory. The extension will support instruments to study the slope dynamics of the Fraser River delta—critical information for adjacent coastal communities, utilities and facilities such as the container/coal port and the Tsawassen ferry terminal.

Partners in this $651,100 project include Natural Resources Canada, the Weir-Jones Group, Environment Canada, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the universities of Oxford (UK) and Colorado (US) and TELUS. Led by UVic, VENUS is the world’s most advanced cabled ocean observatory, providing live data from the seafloor. For more information visit www.venus.uvic.ca.

Vancouver Island Technology Park. UVic’s Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) accelerates the transfer of technology from research labs to the marketplace. Its conference centre (previously known as the business centre) is a focal point for Vancouver Island’s high-tech sector to meet and share ideas. This funding will expand the conference centre and further assist VITP’s ability to nurture small to medium-sized technology firms. The funding will also be used for a security upgrade, marketing materials and an economic impact study covering the 2007 fiscal year.

Western Economic Diversification Canada is a federal department that works in partnership with the provinces, industry associations and communities to encourage diversification of the Western economy.

   
 
 
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