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$11M gift boosts quantum materials research at UBC


Vancouver, BC – The University of British Columbia is has received an $11 million gift to support quantum materials research at the university from diamond pioneer and philanthropist Stewart Blusson and his wife, Marilyn. In recognition of the gift, the university’s Quantum Matter Institute has been renamed the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute.

 “This institute is already bringing the next generation of top researchers to Canada and to UBC specifically,” said Blusson. “The thing about this kind of exploratory research is that you never know when something really significant is going to come out of it. By supporting the institute, we’ve planted the seeds.”

In addition, the university is building cutting-edge lab space that will expand the resources of its existing Laboratory for Atomic Imaging Research. The new space will house research equipment in an isolated pod, with multiple layers of acoustic isolation, and each instrument resting on a massive (100 tonne) floating slab for vibration isolation. The design is similar to a set of Russian dolls: a room within a room within a room.

The Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute will move into the new facility in fall 2016.

The Blussons’ gift has been leveraged to secure a total of $93 million for quantum research. In 2015, UBC was awarded $66.5 million from the federal government through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund and $10 million to bring Harvard physicist Jennifer Hoffman to UBC as a Canada Excellence Research Chair.

“It’s been an incredible year for quantum research at UBC and we’re most grateful to the Blussons for their vision and support,” said Andrea Damascelli, director of the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute. “With this gift we are paving the way for potentially transformative advances in energy, computing power, and new materials.”

Quantum physics is the study of the unusual behaviour of matter and energy at the atomic level, where the laws of classical physics do not apply. Discoveries in this field are expected to lead to a revolution in computing, electronics, medicine and sustainable energy technologies.