Government investments set to boost new quantum materials facility at UBC

March 13, 2024

Dr. Alannah Hallas and students.

Government funding announced today will help advance UBC research into quantum materials, biopolymer synthesis, CO2 conversion, nearshore marine conservation, rural healthcare diagnostics, RNA vaccines, and additional critical areas.

The $17 million in funding to UBC Science researchers—from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council—is part of $1.7 billion awarded across the country in this round of investments.

"Congratulations to top-tier researchers who will get a boost through this vital funding to take their projects to the next level," said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry in making the announcement. "Our Government is proud to support future generations by enabling students and postdoctoral researchers to acquire and hone the skills and knowledge they need to excel in their challenging fields. Their pioneering research will further establish Canada's position as a global leader in innovation while helping to drive our economy and achieve our shared vision of a brighter, healthier future for all Canadians."

The funding includes support for the development of a multi-million-dollar crystal growth facility at UBC featuring material synthesis furnaces—some of which will be the first of their kind in Canada.

"Just as the silicon age launched multiple trillion-dollar industries, the age of quantum materials is likely to foster intense economic development," said UBC researcher Dr. Alannah Hallas, co-lead of the project.

"The new facility will accelerate this search by enabling us to synthesize quantum materials that have remained out of reach in the high-quality single crystal form that is needed to characterize them and ultimately fashion them into technological devices."

The facility, funded in part by the CFI and BCKDF, incorporates five new material synthesis furnaces that will help researchers at UBC’s Blusson Quantum Matter Institute and Canada explore the technological promises of quantum materials.

Three of the five furnaces in the facility will be the first of their kind in the country, including Canada’s first high pressure floating zone furnace. Another high-pressure furnace in the facility, known as an anvil press, will be, for the first time, dedicated to quantum materials discovery rather than geoscience.

New UBC Science funded projects

Canada Foundation for Innovation funded projects

Alannah Hallas, Douglas Bonn (Physics and Astronomy)
Unlocking the next generation of quantum materials

Mark Halpern (Physics and Astronomy)
A new correlator for the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment

Sabrina Leslie (Michael Smith Laboratories, Physics and Astronomy)
Multi-scale seeing-is-believing platform: Imaging and advancing RNA vaccines and genetic medicines

Anne Lacey Samuels (Botany)
BioSEED - Biopolymer synthesis, engineering, extraction and design

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council funded projects

Curtis Berlinguette (Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering)

Real-time visualization of CO2 electrolysis

Ilsa Cooke (Chemistry)

Experimental innovations to measure the behaviour of radicals on interstellar ice surfaces

Ian Frigaard (Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering)

Towards net-zero emissions: Mechanics, processes and materials to support risk-based well decommissioning
Well integrity Canada 2030

Christopher Harley (Zoology)

Sentinels of change

Jason Hein (Chemistry)

Leveraging signal de-convolution to enable reaction monitoring using bench-top nuclear magnetic resonance

Zachary Hudson (Chemistry)

Smartphone-based molecular diagnostics for rural and remote health care settings

Sabrina Leslie (Michael Smith Laboratories, Physics and Astronomy)
Quantitative single-molecule imaging of RNA-Lipid Nanoparticle complexes to understand and advance vaccine and gene therapy formulations

Kirk Madison (Physics and Astronomy)

The atomic vacuum standard collaboration

Parisa Mehrkhodavandi (Chemistry)

Using CO2 incorporation and lignin to polyol conversion to develop sustainable bio-based non-isocyanate polyurethane rigid foams

Robert Raussendorf (Physics and Astronomy)

Simulating quantum circuits. Understanding the roles of Wigner negativity, symmetry and symmetry breaking

Joel Saylor (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)

Tectonic evolution of the Central Andean Plateau and implications for ore distribution
Quantifying analysis of detrital porphyry indicator minerals to guide exploration and decision-making

Philippe Tortell (Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)

Catalyzing a Canada-Chile coastal ocean research network

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funded projects

Laura Lukes (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)

Exploring the development of professional identity and sense of belonging of future geologists in postsecondary geological field-based experiential learning opportunities

For more information, contact…

Chris Balma
  • New Materials
  • Physics and Astronomy

Musqueam First Nation land acknowledegement

UBC Science acknowledges that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm.

Learn more: Musqueam First Nation

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