Boosting lithium ion batteries capacity 10X with Tiny Silicon Particles – University of Alberta


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U of Alberta chemists Jillian Buriak, Jonathan Veinot and their team found that nano-sized silicon particles overcome a limitation of using silicon in lithium ion batteries. The discovery could lead to a new generation of batteries …more

University of Alberta chemists have taken a critical step toward creating a new generation of silicon-based lithium ion batteries with 10 times the charge capacity of current cells.

“We wanted to test how different sizes of  nanoparticles could affect fracturing inside these batteries,” said Jillian Buriak, a U of A chemist and Canada Research Chair in Nanomaterials for Energy. ua buriak tinysiliconp

Silicon shows promise for building much higher-capacity batteries because it’s abundant and can absorb much more lithium than the graphite used in current lithium ion batteries. The problem is that silicon is prone to fracturing and breaking after numerous charge-and-discharge cycles, because it expands and contracts as it absorbs and releases lithium ions.

Existing research shows that shaping silicon into nano-scale particles, wires or tubes helps prevent it from breaking. What Buriak, fellow U of A chemist Jonathan Veinot and their team wanted to know was what size these structures needed to be to maximize the benefits of silicon while minimizing the drawbacks.

The researchers examined silicon nanoparticles of four different sizes, evenly dispersed within highly conductive graphene aerogels, made of carbon with nanoscopic pores, to compensate for silicon’s low conductivity. They found that the smallest particles—just three billionths of a metre in diameter—showed the best long-term stability after many charging and discharging cycles.

“As the particles get smaller, we found they are better able to manage the strain that occurs as the silicon ‘breathes’ upon alloying and dealloying with , upon cycling,” explained Buriak.

u of alberta imagesThe research has potential applications in “anything that relies upon  using a battery,” said Veinot, who is the director of the ATUMS graduate student training program that partially supported the research.

“Imagine a car having the same size battery as a Tesla that could travel 10 times farther or you charge 10 times less frequently, or the battery is 10 times lighter.”

Veinot said the next steps are to develop a faster, less expensive way to create  to make them more accessible for industry and technology developers.

The study, “Size and Surface Effects of Silicon Nanocrystals in Graphene Aerogel Composite Anodes for Lithium Ion Batteries,” was published in Chemistry of Materials.

 Explore further: Toward cost-effective solutions for next-generation consumer electronics, electric vehicles and power grids

More information: Maryam Aghajamali et al. Size and Surface Effects of Silicon Nanocrystals in Graphene Aerogel Composite Anodes for Lithium Ion Batteries, Chemistry of Materials (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.8b03198

Watch a YouTube Video about an Energy Storage Company Tenka Energy, Inc., that has developed and prototyped the NextGen of silicon-lithium-ion batteries for EV’s, Drones, Medical Sensors ….

Tenka Energy, Inc. Building Ultra-Thin Energy Dense SuperCaps and NexGen Nano-Enabled Pouch & Cylindrical Batteries – Energy Storage Made Small and POWERFUL!

via @Genesisnanotech #greatthingsfromsmallthings #energystorage

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UAlberta mechanical engineering in hot pursuit of creeping bacteria


u-of-ala-100316-123501_webIMAGE: IMAGE CAPTURES BACTERIAL “STREAMERS ” UNDER FLOW CONDITIONS. view more

CREDIT: ALOKE KUMAR, UALBERTA ENGINEERING

Understanding how bacteria grows and spreads can help improve health care outcomes

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA

(Edmonton) University of Alberta mechanical engineering professor Aloke Kumar and members of his lab are hot on the trail of bacteria as they spread between surfaces connected by fluid flows. Understanding how this spread occurs is contributing to the development of prevention techniques and could improve our health and our healthcare practices.

Their research paper concerning the formation, deformation and breaking of microscopic streams of bacterial filaments in slo flowing fluids (creeping), written by Ishita Biswas, a PhD student in Kumar’s lab, was published recently in Scientific Reports, a journal of the Nature Publishing Group.

Bacteria typically do not live in isolation, but live together in groups, encased in a matrix of self-secreted extra-cellular substances, called bio-films. When bacteria begin to make these biofilms in flowing, fluid conditions, the biofilms form as streamers–slender filaments that grow longer and longer. Eventually, however, the filaments will break, and bacteria will float along with the flow of the fluid to new sites, bringing infection with them.

Such a problem is not insignificant when you think of all the liquid flowing through all those miles of tubing at your local hospital or Medi-Centre. Because this movement of bacteria with flow can lead to the spread of infection, or even just build up in pipes and tubes, Kumar’s lab set out to study the formation of the filaments, as well as the conditions under which they begin to break down and finally break off.

“The complexity of the problem is created because of the extra-cellular substances that make up the streamers,” says Kumar. “They have significant elasticity and they can unfold in different ways, so that when they’re in a flow, the stress and strain

factors are not straight forward — definitely not linear.”

What’s more, these streamers are very small and light-weight, because they have formed in such small devices. If, in order to study them, the researchers remove the streamers from the devices, they simply fall apart. In order to test them, therefore, Kumar and his lab members must work with the streamers inside these small devices.

Sometimes the smallest, slowest moving foes are the most formidable.

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Collaborators on the paper include Ranajay Ghosh, an assistant professor at University of Central Florida and Mohtada Sadrzadeh, an assistant professor in the U of Alberta Department of Mechanical Engineering.

U of Alberta awarded $75 million for energy research – Including ‘Low-Cost’ Solar on Par with Hydrocarbons


 

Government of Canada investment establishes the Future Energy Systems Research Institute.

The University of Alberta will launch a new institute aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of fossil fuels and developing new low-carbon energy systems, thanks to a $75-million federal grant.

The U of A’s Future Energy Systems Research Institute will bring together researchers across disciplines to improve energy systems related to unconventional hydrocarbon resources—tailings ponds, greenhouse emissions, water use, land reclamation, and safe, efficient energy transportation.

The institute will also build on U of A strengths in advanced materials, smart electrical grids and bioprocessing to help move Canada to a low-carbon energy economy.

The $75-million federal investment is part of the Canada First Excellence Research Fund to strategically invest in areas where post-secondary research institutions have a competitive advantage and can become global leaders.

“I thank the Government of Canada’s historic investment in the Canada First Excellence Research Fund. This funding marks a major step forward for Canada and our collective ability to provide global leadership in response to a diverse set of grand challenges,” said U of A President David Turpin.UniversityOfAlberta_UglyLogo_1-796768

Turpin said the Future Energy Systems Research Institute pushes Canadian energy and environment research “onto a new level.”

“We will build on our broad historic strengths in these areas and spearhead provincial, national and international research partnerships and projects that envision and deliver solutions to the world’s most urgent energy challenges—reducing the environmental footprint of today’s energy system and making the transition to a cleaner, safer and more abundant low-carbon energy future.”

Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s minister of science, unveiled the latest round of investments Sept. 6 at the University of Waterloo. In total, the Government of Canada invested $900 million in 13 Canadian research universities.

“The Canada First Research Excellence Fund will equip Canada to respond to some of the most pressing issues it will face in the future: brain health, sustainable food and water supplies, environmental concerns, future energy supplies. The research supported through this fund will make the country stronger,” Duncan said.

Low-cost solar on par with hydrocarbons

Jillian Buriak’s work toward low-cost solar cells is the kind of innovative energy research that will benefit from $75 million in new federal funding announced today.

U of A chemistry professor Jillian Buriak represents the type of research innovator who could apply for funding through the new institute. Buriak is developing low-cost solar cells, including a version that uses a spray-coating technology.

Buriak said some estimates predict energy use by humans will double by 2050 and triple by 2100. The sun is the largest source of power we can access, and the cost of solar power is now on par with hydrocarbons, making it an increasingly viable alternative, she said.

“A clean, low-carbon source of plentiful energy is needed to maintain the social and economic security of humanity. From climate change to escalating conflict over energy and resources, our future is at risk unless we transition to a low-carbon future,” said Buriak. “The Canada First Excellence Research Fund allows the University of Alberta to pioneer a made-in-Alberta solution to help solve the world’s energy challenges, helping us to transition to a low-carbon economy.”

The U of A will work collaboratively with the University of Calgary, which also received $75 million for its Global Research Initiative in Low Carbon Unconventional Resources. The U of C’s initiative aims to transform the extraction of unconventional energy resources such as the oil-sands to improve efficiency and reduce Canada’s carbon footprint.

 

A “Start-Up” Revolution


TEC Edmonton 041314-Logo-V2@2xTEC Edmonton helps U of Alberta  innovators turn tech ideas into commercial successes.

A university’s output of research and innovation can boost an entire region’s economy—but only if those inventive sparks can make the jump and catch fire in the business community. Since 2006, TEC Edmonton has helped that happen.

The transformation has been stunning. “In the 1990s, the University of Alberta had no defined strategy for encouraging spinoff creation,” says Chris Lumb, CEO of TEC Edmonton. “Today, it’s a North American leader in this area.”

More like a world leader. In 2014, Sweden’s University Business Incubator Index ranked TEC Edmonton as the world’s10th best university business incubator. Closer to home, the Startup Canada Awards named it “Incubator of the Year.” TEC Edmonton currently works with approximately 125 active clients. Those clients have generated $310 million in revenue since 2011, and they now employ over 1,800 people in and around Edmonton.

The organization is a non-profit joint venture between the university and Edmonton’s Economic Development Corporation, was built off of the earlier success of the U of A’s technology transfer office, created in the mid-1990s to help U of A innovators take their ideas to the marketplace. U of A Vice-President (Research) Lorne Babiuk observes, “We were one of the first North American universities to recognize the role that institutions like ours can play in regional economic development through successful commercialization of university research.” The partnership with EEDC leveraged that existing expertise and opened it up to the wider community. Now, anyone in Edmonton with a promising tech-related idea can approach EEDC for support. During its short history, TEC Edmonton has become our region’s hottest accelerator for early-stage technology companies, including many spinoffs from the university.

Many of TEC Edmonton’s U of A-related successes have already made waves. A biomarker for breast cancer, discovered by researcher and professor Ing Swie Goping could lead to a diagnostic test to help doctors personalize drug therapies for individual patients. TEC Edmonton also helped U of A researcher Richard Fedorak launch Metabolomic Technologies, which has already developed urine diagnostic tests for colon cancer (and is working to develop tests for other conditions). Results from clinical trials suggest the tests could save money—and lives.

Although Lumb gratefully accepts the national and international accolades, he insists that the real credit belongs to TEC Edmonton’s clients. “It’s all about the companies we serve. The entrepreneurs, who put their resources and reputations on the line to launch and grow companies, are the reason we exist.”

Meanwhile, Babiuk sees TEC Edmonton’s current success as a mere hint of what lies ahead. “We have come a long way,” says Babiuk. “Together we will do so much more, strengthening the university’s reputation as a commercialization leader and Edmonton as a centre of technological innovation.”

Multi-million-dollar research program will help diversify economy, improve industrial productivity


UniversityOfAlberta_UglyLogo_1-796768New NSERC-AITF Associate Industrial Research Chair aims to improve industry efficiency through intelligent wireless technology.

(Edmonton) How does leading-edge research work to improve industrial productivity and diversify the economy? A new industrial research chair program at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering is aiming to achieve both goals.

By helping the oil and gas industry operate more efficiently through the use of new intelligent wireless sensors and antennas, mechanical engineering professor Pedram Mousavi is also helping to expand the province’s information and communications technology industry.n-ALBERTA-OILSANDS-large

Although the announcement of his appointment as the NSERC-AITF Associate Industrial Research Chair in Intelligent Integrated Sensors and Antennas was made Feb. 10, he and his research team have been working with industry partners for the past 18 months—and they’ve already accomplished a lot.

Mousavi’s team has licensed three new technologies to one of its industrial partners (Titan Logix) and is in the process of signing two more technologies to another (Pason Systems). An antennae coupling developed by the research team is being sold by yet another partner (Testforce) to clients around the world, and a spinoff company based on the team’s work is being created by his graduate students.

Mousavi says he was unsurprised that oil prices have dropped so dramatically this year—it is the natural cyclical character of resource markets. But he hopes his research program can diversify the economy enough to reduce the province’s reliance on the oil and gas sectors. At the same time, he wants to help the industry operate in more cost-effective and efficient ways.

Present-day technology only allows for a certain percentage of oil or gas to be brought to the surface. But Mousavi and his team, which also includes leading researchers in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,  are developing intelligent wireless devices connecting multiple sensors that could make resource operations much more cost-effective.

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Data gathered by these systems could improve productivity by informing off-site experts about an oil well’s operation and the quality of oil it is pumping from the ground. These analysts would be able to respond to the information and make real-time decisions about how the well should be operating.

Working in some of Canada’s top research facilities, the team is also developing an ultra-wideband radar system to monitor oil in transit on rail cars or in tankers hauled by trucks or being stored in tanks. It is also building antennas and front-end circuits for an emerging 5G network, working on ways to wirelessly power remote sensors, and developing a new type of 3-D printer capable of manufacturing electronic devices, sensors and antennas in one integrated process.

The research program has been funded for five years with a possibility of renewal. Funding for Mousavi’s research program totals $2.8 million, including $925,000 each from NSERC, Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures and industry partners (Telus, TRTech, Pason Systems Corp., Titan Logix Corp., ITS Electronics Inc., EMSCAN, InfoChip and TestForce). The remainder of the funding comes from the U of A.

Crucial in-kind support in time and expertise from industry partners is valued at about $900,000, and key equipment funded through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures is valued at $1.5 million.

David Lynch, dean of the Faculty of Engineering, says collaborative partnerships such as the NSERC Industrial Research Chairs benefit everyone involved by bringing industry challenges to university classrooms and labs. This forms connections between education, research and application of new knowledge.

“When industry and universities work together, students gain a deeper understanding of the concepts they’re learning because they can see the connection between their studies and the practical applications of engineering principles,” Lynch said. “At the same time, industry and the engineering profession benefit as we educate a highly qualified new generation of engineers.”

Lynch said the team’s “incredible productivity” proves that such partnerships work.

“This demonstrates that these programs very quickly have significant outcomes for a receptive industrial community,” he said, adding that the relationship between university researchers and industry connects the “pull” of industry needs with the “push” of university research, so the two become aligned.

Pamela Moss, NSERC’s interim vice-president of partnership programs, said Mousavi has the right blend of private-sector and academic experience and success to make the partnership work, and that the technologies he is developing would help industry react more quickly to field conditions, avoiding costly shutdowns or errors.

“And these days, with the price of oil down, efficiency becomes even more important,” she said, adding that the fact that Mousavi has more than 20 graduate students as part of his team demonstrates the educational impact of the funding.

New endowed chair to seek cleaner energy from unconventional resources


U of Alberta 140618-emerald-awards-ualberta-sign-teaserFoundation CMG Endowed Chair in Reservoir Geomechanics part of $15M research program to develop new technologies for energy extraction.

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering has joined forces with Foundation CMG to foster discovery in cleaner, more efficient techniques for converting Canada’s unconventional hydrocarbon sources into marketable energy supplies. The Foundation CMG Endowed Chair in Reservoir Geomechanics is an integral part of a new $15-million research program aimed to develop novel technologies to optimize the economically and environmentally sustainable recovery of unconventional resources in Canada.

Rick Chalaturnyk, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was named the inaugural holder of the endowed chair, which will integrate into the Foundation CMG Industrial Research Consortia. “The Foundation CMG Industrial Research Consortia is a positive mechanism that brings together multiple industrial sponsors and partners to discuss and focus research on what are often challenging issues. The program provides an ideal framework and creates a critical mass for researchers and industrial partners to collaborate,” said Chalaturnyk.

The consortia are supported by a NSERC Collaborative Research and Development grant with industrial and government partners Athabasca Oil Corporation, BP Canada Energy Company, Brion Energy, CMG Reservoir Simulation Foundation, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus FCCL Ltd., ConocoPhillips Company, Nexen Inc., Shell Canada Ltd., Statoil Canada, Suncor Energy Inc., Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures, and Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions.

Unconventional solutions for sustainable energy According to the Conference Board of Canada, unconventional production became Canada’s dominant form of energy production in 2009. While global demand for energy rapidly increases, Canadian energy producers are running up against the limitations of current technology to convert Canada’s natural resources to marketable energy supplies while ensuring a cleaner environment. Recent steam and bitumen release events in Alberta have highlighted the challenges associated with sustainably developing these resources.

With several major oil and gas companies now creating reservoir geomechanics research groups, the chair program will be a major hub for knowledge sharing and technology development for industry. “The petroleum industry is faced with many geotechnical challenges, and Rick and his team are world-class researchers in this area,” said Duke Anderson, president and CEO of Foundation CMG. “We provide support to professors, such as Rick, and grad students in areas of computer numerical simulation of oil and gas recovery processes with collaboration and technology transfer with the industry.”

Chalaturnyk leads the Reservoir Geomechanics Research Group [RG]2 at the U of A, a team of 39 graduate student researchers and technical staff investigating the properties and behaviour of unconventional resources including oilsands, shale caprocks, bitumen carbonates and, more recently, shale gas, during the recovery process. To conduct this research, Chalaturnyk also spearheaded the establishment of the $4.3-million CFI/ASRIP Geomechanical Research Experimental Facility (GeoREF), which features a high temperature/pressure testing facility, Western Canada’s only beam centrifuge facility and a state-of-the-art 3D sand printing machine.

Over the next five years, the program is expected to train 52 highly qualified personnel in the latest technologies and applications in the reservoir geomechanics field. “Collaborative partnerships such as this research chair, supported by Foundation CMG, are the most effective approach to developing the most responsible methods of resource development,” said David Lynch, dean of engineering. “This combination of real-world challenges and scientific rigour is required to come up with innovative new technologies and advances for the benefit of not only industry, but also the next generation of engineering professionals who will have the opportunity to work closely with industry partners to find solutions to engineering challenges.”

Partnership to Help Build a New Era of Electronics


Robert Wolkow

U of Alberta physicist Robert Wolkow’s nanotechnology research program got a boost thanks to a $2.7M collaboration with Lockheed Martin and the Alberta government to commercialize the world’s first atomic-scale computing technology.

U of Alberta’s world-leading nanotech research attracts support from an industry giant to usher in atomic-scale computing technology.

U of Alberta 140618-emerald-awards-ualberta-sign-teaser(Edmonton) Support for groundbreaking nanotechnology research led by University of Alberta physics professor Robert Wolkow is the first to be unveiled under an agreement signed earlier this year with the Government of Alberta. Wolkow’s advances in nanomaterials—now part of the U of A spinoff company Quantum Silicon Inc.—is one of three projects to benefit from ties with technology giant Lockheed Martin, made possible through a memorandum of understanding signed with the Alberta government in May 2014. 1-lockheed 1376916720944

This support for the advanced nanotechnologies that have come from Wolkow’s research in the Faculty of Science is the first to be announced Oct. 28 under the MOU. The research program, considered a front-runner in nano-electronics, is pioneering new pathways for atomic-scale technologies that go far beyond the roadmap for ultra-low-power computing devices. “Alberta’s innovation system is helping Alberta companies grow and diversify our economy on the leading edges of technology.

Our innovators and collaborative system attract companies like Lockheed Martin to work with us and move groundbreaking ideas into markets here and worldwide,” said Don Scott, minister of innovation and advanced education. Lorne Babiuk, vice-president (research) at the U of A, notes, “This announcement is an excellent example of what strong partnerships can accomplish. Industry, government and academia are collaborating to advance our province’s innovation agenda.

The work of Professor Wolkow and his team illustrates how basic research and discovery can lead to innovations that benefit society.” Bringing together an international company and a research leader like the U of A creates possibilities for developing new technology and giving students dual literacy in science and in industry, Wolkow says. “I’ve been working in this field for almost 30 years, and today marks the accomplishment of several of my biggest goals as a professor and scientist, including driving new technologies into application and bringing my students into industrial collaborations like this,” notes Wolkow, who is also the chief technology officer of QSi.

Where innovation meets the market In terms of meeting the market, Ken Gordon, CEO of QSi, points out that “taking new solutions to market is deeply complex and requires highly visionary industry leaders to step up, which is what Lockheed Martin has done. Lockheed will provide invaluable insights into the market that will be critical to our success.” Gordon explains, “In order to navigate the complex move from the lab to the market, we convened industry leaders from across North America where the science was exposed to an intense industry review. At the end of that session, the group concluded that the advances Wolkow has made stand to transform the semiconductor industry.”

“Lockheed Martin has been investing in nanomaterial and quantum computing technologies for years. This research on atomic-scale quantum processing with QSi, a Canadian company, has the potential to bring significant new capabilities to Lockheed Martin Canada’s customers, and those of Lockheed Martin globally,” added Charles Bouchard, chief executive of Lockheed Martin Canada.

The $2.7-million collaborative project was created to commercialize the world’s first atomic-scale computing technology. Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education and Lockheed Martin Canada have contributed to the project and secured matching funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada, Quantum Silicon Inc., the National Research Council, the National Institute for Nanotechnology and the U of A. Wolkow also holds a Tier 1 Nanoscale ICT Chair from Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures.

The MOU supports technology commercialization projects in priority areas for Alberta, such as clean technology, advanced materials and nano-structures, advanced water and membrane solutions, environmental sensors and geospatial engineering applications. The agreement also facilitates collaboration between Lockheed Martin, the Alberta Innovates system, Campus Alberta institutions and local companies to pursue solution-oriented technology development and commercialization.

New Canada Research Chairs work combines nanotechnology and public health


1-Aloke_Kumar_Main_imageEdmonton—A Faculty of Engineering professor has been named as one of the country’s newest Canada Research Chairs. Aloke Kumar has been named as the Canada Research Chair in Microfluidics for Biological Systems.

“It’s a vote of trust in me as a capable scientist,” said Kumar, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Kumar’s research focuses on bacterial biofilms that grow on wet artificial surfaces like plastic tubes used for catheters or water cleaning filters, posing a real risk to human health.

You can view Kumar explaining his research online.

The intricate and complex nature of these bacterial communities makes them a challenge to control so researchers are working on non-invasive ways to discourage growth.

Frequently impossible to see with the naked eye, bacterial films resemble a layer of algae, Kumar says, and serve as a coating that protects bacteria from antibiotics, protozoa that feed on bacteria, and even from mechanical shearing or scraping used to remove them.

“These aren’t even the superbugs. These are normal bacteria that will respond to antibiotics but once they have formed this film they have a protective coating,” said Kumar.

Commonly used medical devices such as catheters and implants are particularly prone to being colonized by bacterial biofilms, which can lead to chronic infections in patients. Acute infections caused by biofilms compromise the well-being of patients and create a substantial burden on healthcare systems worldwide.

Biofilms also affect industrial processes, including water filtration systems.

Kumar’s biomicrofluidics research looks at the practicality and viability of using electrical fields to prevent or disrupt the formation of biofilms on different surfaces. Traditionally, bacteria biofilms have been studied in petri dishes but by creating miniature microfluidic platforms (lab-on-a-chip technology), Kumar is able to see how the biofilm grows on different materials and under different conditions.

“I’m able to make a chip out of the same material as a catheter, then run blood through it, or feed the bacteria certain doses of antibiotics,” he said. “You are able to manipulate it and observe it in real time.”

One intriguing phenomenon researchers have discovered is the fact that applying an electrical field to the biofilm halts its growth.

“The electrical field seems to somehow disorient the bacteria and throws the gears off its ability to form biofilms,” he said, adding that researchers don’t completely understand how or why this happens.

The new research chair appointment will enable Kumar and his research team, which includes collaborators in the medical sciences as well as his own graduate students, to understand biofilms more clearly and devise ways to prevent or eliminate them.

“It will hopefully help me attract more research funding and it definitely helps when I am interacting with other professors and researchers,” Kumar said. “It’s really an honour.”

University of Alberta Nanotechnology Award No Small Feat: Video


U of Alberta 140618-emerald-awards-ualberta-sign-teaser(Edmonton) Ingenuity Lab, a nanotechnology accelerator based at the University of Alberta, has been named “Best Nanotechnology Research Organization 2014” by The New Economy magazine, just under two years after its inception.

The award, presented to Ingenuity Lab director Carlo Montemagno last month at the London Stock Exchange Group studios, honours those who are breaking new ground in technology, energy, business and strategy.

Ingenuity Lab director Carlo Montemagno discusses how the research initiative is using nanotechnology to tackle Alberta’s environmental, agricultural, industrial and health challenges. (Video: The New Economy)

“As researchers in a complex field, we have the added challenge of ensuring our progress is both visible and meaningful to the people it will touch and affect most,” said Montemagno. “This award affirms that we are on the right track and laboratory advances are indeed rippling into the communities where they matter.”

Launched in November 2013, the 10-year, provincially funded Ingenuity Lab is Alberta’s first nanotechnology accelerator. In partnership with the U of A and Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures, it is expected to reach more than $100 million in funds leveraged from industry partners over the next decade and has developed a comprehensive research agenda that aims to address some of the province’s most pressing environmental, agricultural, industrial and health challenges.

“The depth and breadth of the research at Ingenuity Lab is really quite remarkable,” said U of A President Indira Samarasekera. “This leading-edge learning environment has helped unite academic communities and provided concrete opportunities for interdisciplinary progress both within and outside our university.”

“The international recognition Ingenuity Lab has achieved adds to Alberta’s growing global reputation for research and innovation excellence,” said Stephen Lougheed, CEO of Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures. “The strength of Alberta’s innovation system lies in the partnerships and collaborations it encourages between academic institutions, research institutions, businesses and industries.”

“We are the product of a bold vision and the dedication of many,” said Montemagno. “It feels great to be recognized so early on in our journey, especially by a publication like The New Economy, which truly has its finger on the ulse of novel and emergent technologies.”

Montemagno is also a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the U of A, AITF Strategic Chair of Bionanotechnology, Canada Research Chair in Intelligent Nanosystems, and program lead of biomaterials at the National Institute for Nanotechnology.

Calgary, Alberta, The Inc. brings Calgary startups together under one roof


Calgary Innovate logo-png-5A visionary combination of physical accommodations and shared community is a step closer to reality following approval of the final stages of development and implementation at The Inc.

The Inc. is a new co-working program in Calgary; a bricks-andmortar building that offers an environment of ideas and innovation. Recognizing that working space can be a challenge for startup businesses to find and afford, program developers at Innovate Calgary implemented a unique model that makes available the hard walls of a physical space and the soft boundaries of a virtual environment.

The dedicated 2,000-squarefoot space at the Alastair Ross Technology Centre will house up to 30 new companies, including conference rooms, phone areas and communal workspaces.

As Steve McIlvenna, director of entrepreneur development at Innovate Calgary, describes it, the space will be home to timely coaching, relevant mentoring and other programming that supports business development.

McIlvenna, an innovator and inventor himself, knows full well that entrepreneurs need a combination of skills, knowledge and support to succeed. A great idea, invention or unique market proposition is crucial, of course, but successful startups must also get validation in the real world, and demonstrate they have “compelling proof of customer. The Inc. helps keep their feet to the fire in a good way,” he said. “Entrepreneurs help entrepreneurs through professional networking and open communication. It’s social, it’s collaborative, it’s often informal. There’s access to our business acceleration and product commercialization programs. But it all happens on their timetable, at a cadence they are comfortable with.”

That’s what Rafique Awan liked about the co-working concept. He’s a client of microInc, the program that piloted The Inc.’s launch. He’s also founder of QueueSmart, a startup tech company that has developed a mobile app to reduce medical wait times.

“I started doing my own search for office space, but that took a lot of time and what I found was too expensive for me as a startup,” he said. “Finding and joining microInc was immensely helpful for me, not just for the workspace, but all the advice that was shared there helped me understand the validation process, and how to learn more about my target market.”

The power of co-working is that it opens opportunities for peer and partner support, something McIlvenna encourages.

“No startup becomes successful with only one captain in the ship, and serendipity is a central component to the overall effect of the Inc.,” he said. “The synergy that can happen while working with other talented, innovative people is tremendous.”