ARCHIVED - Nanotechnology at NRC

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July 03, 2003— Ottawa, Ontario

It is 11:00 a.m. At her laboratory in Montreal, a molecular biologist is attempting to better understand the biological mechanism of a potentially therapeutic substance. Two hundred kilometres away in Ottawa, a materials scientist is preparing a film for use as an active material in solar cells. In Edmonton, it is 9:00 a.m. local time. A university professor is just arriving at his office. Today, he will guide a student in the use of integrated circuit micromachining techniques to create a complete chemical analysis laboratory on a chip.

A biologist, a physicist and a chemist - what is the connection between these highly specialized scientists? They are all nanotechnology researchers. And they all work for NRC.

Nanotechnology is the art of creating practical structures out of individual atoms or molecules.

Nanotechnology may eventually lead to self-assembling robots, microscopic probes that can navigate through the body repairing cells along the way, and highly efficient, pollution-free sources of power. And although profitable returns from nanoscience are not expected for many years, governments around the world are showing that they recognise the profound conceivable socioeconomic benefits of research on nanotechnology.

The upcoming     NINT facility will break ground in September 2003 and is expected to open in July 2005.
The upcoming NINT facility will break ground in September 2003 and is expected to open in July 2005.

In Canada, the focus of our nanotechnology effort will be at the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) in Edmonton. The institute is founded on a unique collaborative agreement around the objectives of the National Research Council (NRC), the Province of Alberta, and the University of Alberta (U of A).

There, scientists and engineers from diverse disciplines will work in teams on the challenge of integrating nanosized systems with the macroscopic world in which we live. At the heart of their research effort will be the integration of "soft" organic materials (proteins, peptides, etc.) with the "hard" materials (metals, semi-conductors, etc.) of existing technologies. The long-range challenge will be to build a self-assembled, locally powered integrated system capable of responding to changes in its environment.

Biology influences manufacturing, electronic components are grown in a chemical reagent, and quantum physics prevails. Nanotechnology requires multidisciplinary cooperation. The seeds of this cooperation have already germinated at NRC, where scientists, engineers and academics from all branches of science are represented, and openly discuss their ideas and results.

And at NRC we take this spirit of cooperation further. High-tech clusters are fostered in the communities where NRC institutes are located and most of NRC's research institutes have industry partnership facilities.

By continuing to facilitate open collaboration across the conventional divisions, we at NRC can be a model for the kind of national effort that will secure Canada's future as one of the most innovative countries in the world.

Visit our nanotechnology Web page (Areas of Research section).

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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