PHAS researchers receive $14 millions from CFI Innovation Fund

October 13, 2017

Five projects led by PHAS scientists are among 15 funded at UBC by the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The national investment was announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science on Thursday--more than $554 million in 117 new projects across Canada. "Our government understands that scientists need to have the best labs and tools if they're going to make discoveries that will pave the way to a brighter future for all people." said Duncan. "That's why this funding announcement is so important; it gives scientists and their students the opportunity to further their research in areas where Canada has a competitive advantage."

More than 14 million dollars in funding will be used to advance innovative research in emerging materials, medical imaging, radio astronomy, and exploration of molecular properties.

Funded projects that are led by PHAS researchers include:

Sarah Burke (Faculty of Science, Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute$1,200,000

4-probe Scanning Probe Microscope for realizing quantum device concepts based on emerging materials

The 4-probe Scanning Probe Microscope provides a direct crossover between the characterization of structure and electronic properties on the atomic scale, to device characteristics through electronic transport measurements. With the ability to measure electronic transport over small length scales, we will be able to probe the distinct physical properties of quantum materials and explore future device concepts, without the need to develop lithographic techniques for each one of these sensitive, nanostructured materials.

Gary Hinshaw (Faculty of Science, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment$1,646,918

A Search for Primordial Gravitational Radiation

The funding will support the UBC-led Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME). CHIME is Canada’s newest radio astronomy telescope, and is conducting the largest volume survey of the universe ever undertaken. The unique “half-pipe” telescope design and advanced computing power will help scientists better understand the three frontiers of modern astronomy: the history of the universe, radio bursts from pulsars and the detection of gravitational waves.

Takamasa Momose, with Kirk Madison and Valery Milner (Faculty of Science) $2,116,598

CHIROS  - Chirality Research on Origins and Separation

CHIROS is a research facility established to develop novel techniques for the detection, separation and study of chiral molecules. The major innovation of the proposed work is in the application of unique and heretofore unavailable laser technologies to investigate chiral molecules inside unconventional and previously unexplored environments.  Our aim is to address a fundamental question concerning the “origin of homochirality” and to develop new technology for the analysis and separation of chiral molecules.  CHIROS is pronounced as “Kairos”, the Ancient Greek word (??????) meaning the right, critical or opportune moment.

George Sawatzky (Faculty of Science, Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute$4,942,756

Quantum Materials Electron Microscopy Centre

The electron microscopy facility will be set up in the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute with several state of the art microscopes and one that will allow for electron energy loss spectroscopy with high energy resolution. This will propel new developments in the field of correlated electron systems and especially ultra thin films and interfaces.

Vesna Sossi (Faculty of Medicine, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health) $4,346,250

Hybrid PET/MRI: an integrated approach to the investigation of brain function in health, disease and populations at risk

Seeing inside the living human brain is essential for discovering new ways to prevent and treat illnesses. Neuroimaging provides the only window to peer inside this mysterious organ. A hybrid PET/MRI that will allow our team to “see” how neurochemistry overlaps with how the brain uses energy and oxygen and how neurochemistry affects brain connectivity.  Research enabled by this instrument will not only help improve on how we detect and manage brain illnesses but also create jobs and social benefits for all Canadians.

In addition to these UBC led projects, many members in the department are part CFI funded projects led by other institutions

Colin Gay and Alison Lister

Upgrades to the ATLAS Detector at the Large Hadron Collider

(University of Toronto) $4,800,000

Paul Hickson

Gemini IRMOS: The Pathfinder for the Thirty Meter Telescope’s Infrared MultiObject Integral-Field Spectrograph

(University of Toronto, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics) $387,741

UBC will be responsible for the Acquisition and Calibration Unit (ACU) for the instrument. This will include a camera system that allows the locations of the galaxy images to be precisely determined so that robotic arms can be positioned to direct their light into the spectrographs. It will also include a calibration system that will be used to tune the adaptive optics, in order to give the best performance. As a major partner, UBC researchers will also participate fully in the design, development, testing and operation of the GIRMOS instrument.

“This project brings together world-leading scientific and engineering expertise across Canada to construct a best-in-class scientific instrument for the Gemini observatory, the premier ground-based optical telescopes that Canadians have access to,” said project leader Suresh Sivanandam.

Takamasa Momose, with David Jones and Kirk Madison

Ultracold Neutron Electric Dipole Moment Experiment (The University of Winnipeg) $1,800,000

This project is led by Jeffery Martin of the University of Winnipeg, and will be state-of-the-art and advances in several related technological fields will be made through this cutting-edge research, primarily in cryogenic engineering, atomic and laser physics, magnetic shielding and measurement, and materials and surface science. The UBC team will be working on developing and installing the 129Xe/199Hg dual co-magnetometer for precision measurements of magnetic fields  (for neutron EDM measurements), and completing 129Xe atomic EDM measurements by two-photon optical excitation.

Kris Sigurdson and Ingrid Stairs

Unlocking the Radio Sky with Next-Generation Survey Astronomy

(University of Toronto, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics) $983,074

The project will build the infrastructure, computing capability, and expertise needed to process the overwhelming flood of information being produced by next-generation radio telescopes. The goal is to turn raw data into images and catalogues that astronomers can use to investigate cosmic magnetism, the evolution of galaxies, cosmic explosions, and more. This project will allow Canada to play a major role in the Very Large Array Sky Survey (VLASS), an ambitious new project to make a radio map of almost the entire sky in unprecedented detail. It will also help build the Canadian capacity needed to participate in what will be the largest and most powerful radio telescope ever constructed: the Square Kilometre Array. 

With UBC-led CHIME - Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment - being a major partner for this project, UBC will receive $2.1 million in funding for CHIME, with $3.5 to $4M of the funding being CHIME-related. 

"We’re excited to now flex our muscles and build big, new teams that will develop the tools and equipment needed for 21st century astronomy," said project leader and Dunlap Director Bryan Gaensler.

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