Nanotechnology Initiative

UAlberta/National Research Council collaboration

UAlberta and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) have a long standing nanotechnology research partnership. In 2017, our collaboration was renewed and renamed the NRC/UAlberta Nanotechnology Initiative. The collaboration is a unique nanotech hub designed to expand Canadian nanotechnology capacity and foster breakthrough research. The collaboration includes a $10M investment over 3 years for 9 projects aligned with such NRC strategic priorities. Projects re listed below. NRC's Nanotechnology Research Centre is located on UAlberta's main campus.


Phase 2 Plans

The Nanotechnology Initiative is entering a second phase where we will look for collaborations in areas that align with the University of Alberta's research focus and connect with the NRC's nanotechnology strategy in three broad supporting areas:

  • biomedical nanotechnologies
  • detection and automations (especially nanosensors)
  • developmental and analytical microscopy

We are planning to hold a Nanotechnology Showcase in early summer of 2020 followed by the call for Round 2 Notice of Intents. Please sign up below to receive updates regarding the Nanotechnology Initiative events and schedules.

Phase 1 Current Projects

  • Adaptive self-assembled materials for manipulating mast cells

    Mast cells play a distinct and central role in the innate immune response and are characterized by their rapid release of a myriad of proinflammatory mediators in response to stimulation. Previously, the project researchers showed that a self-assembling peptide matrix could be used to activate human mast cells in skin in vivo through direct contact. In this next phase, they will design a smart material that will respond to mast cell activation by releasing mast cell modifying drugs in a controlled manner. In this way, they will create a material that communicates with and responds to immune cells in a site-specific and chronological manner.

  • Graphene in all-new nanodevice technologies (GIANNT)

    This project will investigate graphene-based nanodevices augmented by plasmonics. In particular, the project goal is to find methods to integrate nanostructured plasmonic gratings or other nanoscale architectures directly onto nanoscale electronic structures (e.g., graphene field-effect transistors) to obtain new materials and devices that capitalize on the emerging and novel properties of graphene.

  • Hybrid optical and electron spectroscopy of diamond for nanophotonic extreme-ultraviolet radiation sources:

    The project will investigate physics that may lead to extreme-ultraviolet coherent light sources (EUV). They use momentum-resolved electron energy spectroscopy in a transmission electron microscope to understand materials properties that are essential for fabrication of nanostructures needed for such EUV sources.

  • Immunoglobulin E (IgE)-based immunotherapy strategies for prion disease
    The project researchers contend that a single type of antibody, IgG, is not the most effective type of antibody to targeting prions. They will test this hypothesis by creating novel anti-prion IgEs, verifying their interaction with normal cell-surface glycoprotein and misfolded prion proteins (scrapie isoform of the prion protein) and testing their ability to trigger clearance of infectious prion proteins in-vitro in-cell cultures. This work will provide proof-of-principle for the feasibility of new immunotherapeutic approaches for prion disease.
  • In-operando characterization of nanostructured energy storage materials

    Nanostructured electrodes are critical to improved electrical energy storage but are challenging to characterize. Here, researchers build on existing strengths at the NRC and the University of Alberta by developing and integrating a suite of in-situ characterization tools and then measuring, correlating, and explaining changes in nanomaterial properties during device performance. The project's aim is to identify and isolate technique (preparation and measurement)-dependent properties from fundamental material properties in support of in-silico research and commercial development of energy storage technologies.

  • Nano-optomechanical devices for ultrasensitivity and quantum information

    The epitome of modern chemical analysis is mass spectrometry. Imagine this analytical power lifted from the lab bench and placed in your hand, able to analyze your breath for disease, for example. Nano-optomechanical devices could enable this vision, once they reach ambient sensing at the level of a single Dalton (one atomic mass unit). To get there, the project researchers will leverage the ultrahigh power density of quantum-enabling-diamond nano-optomechanical systems while exploiting an incredible recent discovery that sensitivity improves with higher damping.

  • Organic and hybrid photovoltaics - Computation- and machine learning-driven discovery and optimization

    Organic and hybrid perovskite solar cells are of enormous interest due to the high potential for low-cost manufacturing of these devices. Both families of devices have great promise for solar cell applications, but face challenges related to materials choice and optimization, longevity, scale-up, processing, and device integration. In this project, researchers combine machine learning and the predictive power of the suite of modern computational methods developed at the NRC with experimental design and device assembly to rapidly arrive at idealized photovoltaic architectures and compositions that can be promptly synthesized and tested.

  • When physics strengthen chemistry: Designing molecular junctions with novel electronic functions

    The project combines expertise in theory, experiments, and commercial applications in molecular electronics, which represents a new class of electronic components with distinct characteristics from conventional semiconductors. The key objective of the collaboration is "rational design" of molecular electronic devices with behaviours and functions difficult or impossible with existing electronics.