Achievements



NRC researchers invented the world's first cardiac pacemaker in 1950 and decades later NRC was also credited with creating the world's first "biological pacemaker" charged by the body's own energy.

With NRC's help, Canada installed the first operating radar system in North America – a coastal defence system near Halifax, called the “Night Watchman” and by 1945 NRC had developed about 30 different types of radar for various military purposes, helping the Allies win the war.

In 2001 NRC researchers, led by Paul Corkum, produced and measured what were then the world's shortest light flashes (measured in attoseconds) used to capture mysterious processes within atoms and molecules.

NRC's George Klein invented the first truly practical electric wheelchair when he fixed the flaws of earlier designs, by increasing the electric drive's voltage, adding independent drives to the wheels and adding a sophisticated control device that looked like a “joystick”.

NRC engineers removed the distinctive “clickety-clack” from train tracks by developing techniques to lay 426-metre welded rail sections instead of bolted 12-metre sections, substantially lowering maintenance costs and giving passengers a smoother ride.

Famed Canadian surgeon Isaac Vogelfanger collaborated with NRC engineers to co-develop the world's first successful device for microsurgical stapling.

In 1956, Pratt and Whitney recruited young engineers from NRC to work on an aircraft engine capable of delivering 450 shaft horsepower, which resulted in the PT6 turboprop engine, one of the most reliable and best-selling aircraft engines in history.

Donald Hings is credited for inventing the walkie-talkie in 1937, initially as a portable field radio for bush pilots flying between remote locations in Canada's North and then developed further as a valuable military technology while he was on loan to NRC.

NRC work on the deicing of plane components began with propellers in 1939, when NRC found a way to coat the leading edges of the propeller blades with conducting rubber.

NRC developed a ground-based integrated diagnostic system (IDS) to monitor the health of aircraft in flight that receives data in real time and makes recommendations for routine maintenance and unforeseen problems.

NRC played a role in the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway by helping model the planned construction and its impacts.

NRC recruited Canada's first astronaut team through a vigorous selection process that included Marc Garneau, one of five astronauts on the NRC team who made it to space.

The battle against Wheat Rust, a crop disease once responsible for the loss of tens of millions of dollars worth of wheat, was effectively won by an NRC-led effort to breed rust-resistant strains in the 1920s and 1930s.

NRC developed countermeasures for threats posed by German mines to allied shipping during WWII by creating technologies to degauss the magnetic field generated on steel-hulled ships that caused the mines to explode.

NRC investigated the effects of airport noise on nearby residents, which led to the development of innovative software for insulation design, used by architects and builders to reduce aircraft noise.

An NRC device called a “decorticator” developed in the 1970s for removing the hulls from crops like sorghum and millet is helping agriculture and food production around the planet.

Research Enterprises Limited was a successful wartime crown corporation established to build both optical and radar equipment for allied forces using NRC product designs and engineering.

The anti-gravity suit was invented by Wilbur Franks and was one of many projects initiated by NRC to protect air crew fighting in Europe during WWII.

NRC was part of a team of international astronomers involved in the Gemini Deep Deep Survey (GDDS) project that ultimately changed humanity's understanding of the early Universe.

Initially conceived and developed by NRC, the Space Vision System by Neptec is used to accurately approach, grab and assemble structures in orbit.

NRC created a new concrete with electrically conductive properties, useful for heating houses and deicing bridges, roads and runways.

NRC tailored a xylanase enzyme that greatly reduces both the pollution discharged by pulp mills and the cost of producing pulp.

In the 1930s, NRC engineering helped to launch the era of streamlined locomotives, which improved fuel efficiency and prevented smoke from obscuring the view ahead.

NRC pioneered variable stability fly-by-wire helicopters and used the technology to create airborne simulators for testing a wide range of aircraft designs and for training helicopter pilots.

NRC developed protection against weaponized gas in the late 1930s by developing and testing anti-gas fabrics, masks and machines.

NRC's work on the Ocean Ranger investigation has informed better standards for offshore escape, evacuation and rescue—including safer lifeboats, and higher standards for immersion suits.

NRC's ZEEP (Zero Energy Experimental Pile), Canada's first nuclear reactor and the first one in the world built outside the U.S., went critical at 3:45 PM, September 5, 1945, in Chalk River, Ontario.

NRC recently accomplished one of the most complicated experiments on the planet, measuring the Planck constant using a watt balance and achieved results critical to the redefinition of the official kilogram.

Much of what we know today about the Aurora Borealis began with NRC's early research using Black Brant rockets, one of the best rockets ever made.

NRC made key contributions to the development of a successful proximity fuse, which was hailed as one of the major military technology advances of World War II.

In the early 1950s, NRC produced the isotopes for the cobalt-60 bomb treatment that launched a new era in radiation therapy for cancer, saving millions of people around the world.

An international team of astronomers, led by NRC's Christian Marois, reached a milestone in the search for other worlds when they captured the first-ever images of planets circling a star other than the Sun.

NRC was part of the largest bridge study ever—the 13-kilometre Confederation Bridge, the world's longest bridge over ice-covered waters.

NRC researchers at the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) created the world's first single molecule electrical circuit and are learning how to build the computer of the future one molecule at a time.

NRC's groundbreaking snow studies and the resulting classification system have supported decades of snow-related R&D around the world, affecting the design of roads, buildings and consumer products.

NRC improved the skis on the De Havilland Beaver, Canada's most successful bush plane, by making them lighter, more aerodynamic and less sticky on snow.

In the 1950s, NRC researchers contributed to the development of Canola, a nutritious and valuable made-in-Canada crop grown across the country.

NRC played a part in the development of the Avro Arrow, which included testing to improve aerodynamics and anti-icing.

NRC played a lead role in creating the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) - the world's most powerful detector of neutrinos.

With technology licensed from NRC, Kent Imaging's "Tissue Viability System" uses near-infrared light to quickly gauge wound health without requiring any invasive procedures or touching the affected tissue.

NRC developed a novel technique for the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph, which allows the telescope to see spectra of distant objects by subtracting the effects of the background sky.

NRC designed and maintains specialized systems that control a spray to test engine icing by simulating operating and environmental conditions at GLACIER, the Global Aerospace Centre for Icing and Environmental Research.

Used today for northern runways, pykrete is a mixture of wood pulp and ice developed by NRC during WWII for a secret project to build unsinkable aircraft carriers.

In the 1920s, NRC oversaw research on the deterioration of concrete in Western Canada, which eventually led to the manufacture of alkali-resistant cement.

Canada's National Science Library was launched as the Library of the National Research Council in 1924.

NRC research on jet engine propulsion fed into the development of the Orenda Jet Engine, the most powerful jet engine in the world from 1949-1952.

NRC wind tunnels have been used to assess the aerodynamics of sports equipment and the posture of Canadian athletes helping them go for gold at the Olympics.

NRC virtual environment technologies helped the Canadian operations of General Motors Defense win a contract to build the Stryker LAV weapons system in 2003.

NRC helped launch CA*net 3, the world's first national optical R&D network, which used fibre optics to transmit data.

NRC engineered unique improvements to night vision goggles for the Canadian Forces and rescue pilots.

NRC designed portable refrigeration units for supply ships carrying fresh meat and perishables to the British isles during the Second World War.

Since the late 1980s, NRC's fuel cell research has contributed substantially to the global effort to produce marketable fuel cells for everyday use.

NRC oversaw a project in the 1920s which made lignite coal from Saskatchewan a viable fuel for heating, power and rail transportation.

NRC revolutionized the loudspeaker industry in the 1970s by developing and refining tests for clarity, definition, fullness and exactness in sound fidelity.

NRC scientists have offered solutions to the corporate world for building better cubicles that improve comfort, maximize employee well-being and enhance productivity.

NRC championed standards and metrology for the design, testing and manufacture of a wide range of weapons and supplies for Canada's military and its Allies during the Second World War.

NRC's Dr. Saran Narang is credited with the invention of synthetic insulin, which resulted in the drug Humulin, now used by approximately 300 million people worldwide.

In 2012, NRC achieved a major milestone for the aviation industry when it flew the first civil jet powered by 100 percent unblended biofuel.

NRC scientists collaborated with the RCMP to devise a unique fingerprint detection method using a sealed vacuum chamber and cyanoacrylate (super glue) fumes.

NRC collaborated with UCLA to make reverse osmosis commercially feasible with a technique (known as the Loeb-Sourirajan method) to purify water using membranes.

A team of NRC researchers, led by Dr. Keith Ingold, pioneered research in free radicals and their oxidation role in the aging process, proving that vitamin E behaves as an antioxidant in living animals.

In 1920, Canada first combined photography and surveying during an experimental flight, which eventually led to the development of precise instruments, improving aerial-photography practices.

During the Second World War, NRC helped design the “Weasel”, an all-purpose assault vehicle that could glide through snow, mud, swamp and underbrush.

NRC led the way in nanotube production – first with carbon and now with boron nitride, which are ultra-strong, nearly invincible and ready to revolutionize the super-materials industry.

The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope at Mount Mauna Kea, Hawaii has unlocked secrets about star clusters, galactic structures and our own Milky Way galaxy.

NRC developed 3D scanning technology that brought characters from The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings to life in Hollywood blockbusters.

On Grosse Île, Quebec during the Second World War, NRC oversaw a successful program to develop a cost-effective Rinderpest vaccine for mass production.

NRC engineered the leveling of Ripple Rock with explosives in the Seymour Narrows of British Columbia, making the volatile stretch of water safely navigable in 1958.

Hugh Le Caine's 35-year career at NRC led to scientific and musical achievements such as the Electronic Sackbut, the world's first electronic music synthesizer.

NRC identified the exact shade of red from 500,000 choices, marking the first time that international colour standards were applied to a national emblem.

The NRC bird gun or "chicken cannon", the oldest flight impact simulator of its kind, began operations in 1968 and included leftover parts from the original Avro CF-105 Arrow fighter jet.

In 1997, NRC's Nestor Burtnyk and Marceli Wein were honoured with an Academy Award for Technical Achievement recognizing their role as pioneers of animation key frame technology, which was demonstrated in the 1974 animation short, Hunger (La faim).

To re-establish Canada's market share for edible seaweed lost to competition, NRC helped Acadian Seaplants Ltd. develop an attractive pink colored variation of Irish moss and perfected a tenderizing procedure that gave the product a mouthwatering texture.

In 2004, a team of NRC researchers reconstructed the Sulman mummy using a combination of scanning technologies to determine its shape, texture and colour prior to mummification, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the mummy was a female, something earlier x-rays failed to determine.

Lloyd Montgomery Pidgeon was world renowned for the development of the Pidgeon process, a method of magnesium metal production, which was crucial to the Allied effort during World War II.

In 1916, the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory achieved international status for housing the Plaskett telescope, the largest telescope in the world.

In 1987, during a record-setting four day investigation, NRC scientists identified a new shellfish toxin, domoic acid, responsible for the deaths of five people, the illnesses of hundreds of others, and the temporary closure of the East Coast shellfish industry.

In 2004, NRC used its 3D imaging technology to perform scans of the Mona Lisa in the basement of the Louvre, which not only revealed the painting's state of preservation, but more about da Vinci's sfumato technique used to create the corners of Mona Lisa's famous smile.

A team or researchers led by Harold Jennings created a vaccine to protect millions of children around the world against meningitis C, a potentially fatal infection of the lining around the brain and spinal cord.

In the 1990s, NRC devised an adaptive optics system to take exquisitely clear pictures of faint objects in space, a system which is used by major international observatories, including the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea.

NRC was first to successfully make radio astronomical observations using Very Long Baseline Interferometry or VLBI; today VLBI networks are routinely used for both radio astronomy and geographical surveying with millimetre accuracy.

Jim Swail and his team not only built a better collapsible white cane for the visually impaired, but were prolific at inventing highly specialized devices to accommodate people with disabilities working in a myriad of different occupations.

NRC named the Canadarm and directed its design, development and construction – overseeing a Canadian industrial team led by Spar Aerospace for NASA's space shuttle program.

"The world's foremost molecular spectroscopist and his large institute in Ottawa is the undisputed center for such research" were the words used to introduce NRC's Gerhard Herzberg when he received the 1971 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

In 1932, when the building at 100 Sussex Drive in Ottawa was officially opened, press reports of the opening ceremony referred to the building as the "temple of science."

Since 1939, NRC has been Canada's official time-keeper – CBC radio listeners would use "the beginning of the long dash" to set their clocks to the exact time.

In August 2009, a neurosurgeon in Halifax made medical history by becoming the first to successfully remove a patient's brain tumour with the assistance of a virtual-reality neurosurgical simulator developed by NRC.

In 1941, NRC published the first National Building Code, which was adopted by the various provinces and municipalities over the next two decades.

In 1923, NRC helped to save the East Coast lobster fishery by discovering the source of the discolouration in their canned products and introducing an inexpensive solution.

When the RCMP solicited the help of NRC to develop a portable device that could "sniff" explosives, NRC came up with the advanced portable Explosives Vapour Detector or EVD-1, which airports quickly began adopting in the 1980s.

At the request of the Department of National Defence in 1931, NRC's 1st wind tunnel, on John Street in Ottawa, was used to launch an investigation into the aerodynamic characteristics of aircraft skis.

NRC researchers helped select the safest route to cut through Rogers Pass and proposed snow sheds and other structures to safeguard particularly vulnerable spots.

Canada launched its first research journal in May 1929, after the Royal Society of Canada recommended that the NRC lead the way.

In 1994, Bertram Neville Brockhouse, famous for pioneering methods for neutron spectrometry, shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Clifford Shull of MIT for research conducted several decades earlier in the field of neutron scattering for condensed matter.

On December 1, 1989 the Bank of Canada issued its $50 banknote that featured NRC's thin films anti-counterfeiting technology, designed with security features to counter the colour photocopiers of that era.

NRC can simulate the effects of multiple dam break and flooding scenarios in order to improve emergency plans and determine the best escape routes during an actual crisis.

NRC built the Crash Position Indicator, a precursor to the black box, which not only could indicate the location of a downed aircraft but could also survive the impact of a crash, as well as related fires, explosions or exposure to water.

NRC fire researchers developed a revolutionary technology to douse fires faster in challenging settings using compressed air foam to smother flames in a fraction of the time it takes a water blast – and without the mess and structural damage.

Orest Z. Roy of NRC was responsible for developing a communications device called the COMHANDI, which enabled people with severe paralysis to communicate by building words on an electronic letter board.

STEM, a unique antenna technology developed by NRC, was used on all of the early Canadian satellites such as Alouette 1 & 2, and was flown on NASA's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.

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