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NSERC funds two projects focused on laser technology and water contamination

March 1, 2016 — 

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) today announced new funding to two Strategic Partnerships Projects at the University of Manitoba. One will advance laser material processing used in portable electronics and medical devices and the other will seek new tests and tools for controlling contamination of waste water from tailings ponds.

“These projects will have a lasting impact on two major sectors of our economy: manufacturing and the oil and gas industry,” says Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and distinguished professor at the University of Manitoba. “Partnering with industry and other research experts brings new perspectives and insights that ultimately result in new discoveries and innovations.”

Arkady Major

Arkady Major

Electrical and computer engineering associate professor Arkady Major was awarded $510,000 over three years to develop advanced techniques for efficient frequency conversion of laser radiation. Laser material processing is widely used in semiconductor, portable electronics and medical device industries that have rapidly growing multi-billion dollar markets.

“The goal of this research partnership project is to develop a new revolutionary frequency conversion technology based on the fundamental properties of the autoresonance effect in nonlinear crystals,” says Major. “The results of this project will redefine state-of-the-art in laser frequency conversion, creating a new paradigm and placing Canada in a position of international leadership.”

Partnering with Major on the project is INRS (Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique) professor Roberto Morandotti, whose research team has made recent breakthroughs in this field of study. Two leading Canadian companies that manufacture industrial laser systems are also partnering on the project: Passat Ltd. and Attodyne Inc. Both companies are well positioned to commercialize the developed technology. The new knowledge generated from this project and the training of highly qualified personnel (graduate and undergraduate students and post-doctoral fellows) will enhance Canada’s global competitiveness.

The University’s Centre for Oil and Gas Research and Development, led by chemistry professor Jӧrg Stetefeld and Gregg Tomy, have been awarded $582,500 over three years, to develop right-handed coiled coil nanotube (RHCC-NT) as a new monitoring and remediation tool for Poly-Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Jorg Stetefeld

Jorg Stetefeld

“The economic benefit from the oil and gas industry is significant to Canada, despite today’s current slump in oil prices, and has to be sustainable in the long-term,” says Stetefeld. “To ensure that the environment is not negatively impacted, this research collaboration with STANTEC will seek to develop a new technology that will detect and/or recover PAHs from fluid and sediment systems.”

PAHs are naturally occurring constituents of crude oil and are generally categorized as saturated acyclic and cyclic carboxylic acids and are quite corrosive (when removed from crude oil they are bitumen). The RHCC-NT is based on a bacterium isolated from black smoker vents, from Staphylothermus marinus (S. marinus), an extremophillic archea bacterium. This bacterium occurs in extreme conditions near deep sea volcano that makes it a perfect tool for biotechnological developments. These new technologies will improve water quality systems in Canada and benefit our economy through enhanced environmental sustainability.

NSERC’s Strategic Partnership Grants for Projects fund early-stage project research in targeted areas.




Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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