New CFI funding boosts major science projects


- Valerie Shore

UVic's leadership and participation in several national and international big science projects been given a huge shot in the arm with the injection of $14.8 million in new funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The funding was announced on May 29 in Ottawa as part of a $333-million CFI investment in new research infrastructure across the country.

The UVic funding will support researchers who are developing world-class technologies in nuclear medicine, particle physics and ocean observation systems. The bulk of the funding coming to UVic—more than $13.6 million—goes toward phase two of the UVic-led Advanced Rare IsotopE Laboratory (ARIEL) at TRIUMF, Canada’s national facility for particle and nuclear physics in Vancouver.

ARIEL will strengthen Canada’s capabilities in particle and nuclear physics, and materials science. It’s also a testing ground for producing critical medical isotopes, which are used to diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The first phase of ARIEL, completed in 2014, constructed an underground beam tunnel and one of the world’s most powerful superconducting particle accelerators, as well as a new building to house them. This second phase will add next-generation technologies to the accelerator to produce a wider variety of exotic isotopes at greater intensities.

“We have designed a one-of-a kind accelerator that will allow us to pursue the science in which TRIUMF is currently a world leader,” says UVic physicist Dean Karlen, who leads a 19-university ARIEL II consortium. “It’s exciting for us and for future generations. They’ll come up with new ideas on how to use this technology that we haven’t even thought of yet.”

Four other UVic-related projects have also been funded.

UVic physicist Rob McPherson and his team are receiving $1 million to build new elements for the massive ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider—the world’s largest science experiment—in Europe.

UVic physicists have a long history of leadership in ATLAS, which involves more than 3,000 scientists from 39 countries seeking to understand the fundamental building blocks of matter. UVic is one of three universities partnering with Carleton University on this $6-million upgrade project.

UVic is receiving $200,000 for Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) to help the University of Manitoba develop, install and maintain components of a observatory in Hudson Bay.

The collaboration builds on the success of ONC’s world-leading NEPTUNE and VENUS cabled observatories, and since 2012, a community observatory in Nunavut.

UVic is also a partner in a new CFI-funded project to upgrade beam line infrastructure at the Canadian Light Source (CLS), a national synchrotron facility located at the University of Saskatchewan.

The facility allows scientists to study the microstructure and chemical properties of materials. Past research at CLS has defined the molecular basis of chronic disease, defined new targets for drugs, and led to a better understanding of protein interactions within living cells.

UVic is one of 32 universities participating in ADEPT, a national “virtual laboratory” led by Queen’s University which gives science and engineering researchers access to world-leading tools, facilities and expertise in microsystems (miniaturized devices) and nanotechnology.

Applications of ADEPT technologies include health care and biomedical devices, transportation, communications, clean technology and cybersecurity.

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Keywords: funding, CFI, AREIEL, Ocean Networks Canada, physics, oceans

People: Rob McPherson

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