Western Economic Diversification Canada

Western Economic Diversification Canada

May 25, 2011 15:55 ET

Governments Invest in Technology Advancements in Saskatchewan

SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - May 25, 2011) - Today the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification Canada and Gordon Wyant, MLA for Saskatoon Northwest on behalf of the Honourable Rob Norris, Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration, joined U of S President Peter MacKinnon and Dr. Tom Ellis from the Canadian Light Source to announce $3.1 million dollars towards two innovative projects in Saskatchewan's science and technology sector.

"It is passion and commitment that drive our world-class researchers to see beyond the test tube or computer model to the creation of new industrial products that improve our lives," said Minister Yelich. "Our Government has that same commitment to strengthening the Canadian economy and the practical application of research helps us achieve that goal."

"The Brockhouse project is another example of the Government of Saskatchewan's ongoing commitment to the CLS," Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris said. "This investment will help ensure the long-term success of the CLS, expanding our province's role in the global knowledge-based economy and the advancement of Saskatchewan's innovation agenda."

"Research, teaching and learning at our university is a collaborative endeavour," said Peter MacKinnon, president of the University of Saskatchewan. "The funding announced today will support the Solar Photovoltaic Research Group (SPRG) to achieve efficient, affordable solar power, as well as help build new beamlines at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) to investigate materials at a scale smaller than most of us can imagine. Because of this support, the university – together with its partners, the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan, the University of Guelph and IBM – will make ground-breaking discoveries that change lives everywhere."

The investment will support CLS in the construction and commissioning of the Brockhouse X-ray Diffraction and Scattering Sector (Brockhouse project), a suite of three beamlines and ancillary facilities which will assist researchers in investigating the structure of materials at the nanometre scale. After commissioning, these new beamlines will help researchers understand the complex make-up of natural and synthetic materials, and enable researchers to study and manipulate them for a range of applications including creating the next generation of computer chips and innovative batteries.

"The Canadian Light Source is extremely grateful for Western Economic Diversification's ongoing support, especially with today's announcement for the Brockhouse project," says CLS Director of Research Tom Ellis. "The result of a partnership led by the University of Guelph that includes WD, the provinces of Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, IBM and international research institutions, Brockhouse equips the CLS with an unparalleled suite of tools for fundamental and applied research ranging from next generation computers to new ways to store energy."

The Solar Photovoltaic Research Group (SPRG) at U of S will use their funds to purchase equipment to pursue the design, fabrication and testing of organic solar cells, improving the longevity and cost-effectiveness of existing technology and introducing new opportunities for photovoltaic power generation. U of S researchers are working to develop a new way to extend the life of solar cells and make them more affordable.

"The development of clean, alternative energy sources is the great challenge of this century. By using our knowledge of spectroscopy, electrochemistry and materials science that has been gathered through decades of fundamental scientific research, Saskatchewan scientists are now in a position to become world leaders in developing this technology," states Professor Ron Steer, SPRG leader.

Western Economic Diversification Canada in partnership with the provinces, industry associations and communities promotes the development and diversification of the western economy, coordinates federal economic activities in the West and advances the interests of western Canadians in national decision-making.


Brockhouse X-ray Diffraction and Scattering Sector (Brockhouse)

  • Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) investment: $2.1 million

  • Canada Foundation for Innovation: $11.1million

  • Government of Saskatchewan: $500,000

The Canadian Light Source Inc. (CLS) is one of the most advanced synchrotron facilities in the world. Today's announcement of over $2.1 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada will assist with all costs related to the construction and commissioning of the Brockhouse X-ray Diffraction and Scattering Sector (Brockhouse) at Canadian Light Source Inc.

Brockhouse will be a suite of three beamlines and ancillary facilities at the CLS for small angle x-ray scattering/wide angle x-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS) and state-of-the-art X-ray system to help industrial and academic researchers to investigate the structure of materials at the nanometre scale. The Brockhouse suite of beamlines will provide CLS with facilities to expand industrial and commercial applications, with up to 25 per cent of beamtime available for industry.

The facility will help to provide, for the first time in Canada, access to a wide range of sophisticated characterization and visualization tools that will enable industrial and academic researchers to measure, characterize and ultimately manipulate the structure of materials at the nanometre scale. This technology will help foster the development of new materials that will be important in the diversification of Western Canada's knowledge economy. It will support a broad cross-section of material sectors such as polymers, drugs, emulsions, novel batteries, petroleum products, and quantum materials and researchers in a wide array of disciplines such as physics, chemistry, geology, environmental science, biology and engineering.

The CLS is Canada's only national facility for performing X-ray diffraction and scattering. When completed, the Brockhouse beamlines will create an advantage for CLS for attracting commercial users and increased revenue.

Contact:Matthew Dalzell
Canadian Light Source
Tel: 306-657-3739
Email: matthew.dalzell@lightsource.ca


Photovoltaic (solar cells)

  • Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) Investment: $491,100

  • American Chemical Society: $50,000

The Solar Photovoltaic Research Group (SPRG) has uncovered new processes that may allow organic-based photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert energy from the sun to electricity with improved efficiency. This new process is at the forefront of Canadian research capabilities in the field.

A Government of Canada investment of $491,100 will enable SPRG to purchase equipment necessary to design, fabricate and test organic solar cells. Their goal is to improve the longevity and cost-effectiveness of solar cells.

Existing solar cell technologies use less cost-effective inorganic semiconductor materials, mainly silicon based. The current organic solar cells are more cost-effective, but are relatively inefficient and have a short lifespan.

It is anticipated that the project will generate patent licensing to new organic solar cell manufacturing companies or other companies that employ alternate organic solar technologies.

SPRG was established three years ago through the U of S Chemistry Department to examine the feasibility of using discoveries in materials science to improve both the efficiency and longevity of organic solar cells. The U of S has committed a Tier II Canada Research Chair to solar materials research to build on this success.

Contact:Professor Ronald Steer
Department of Chemistry
University of Saskatchewan
Tel: 306-966-4667
Email: ron.steer@usask.ca

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