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Nanotechnology and physiological monitoring projects get $5.4M funding


Edmonton, AB – March 29, 2004 – The federal government is providing $5.4 million in funding to the University of Alberta for nanotechnology research as well as a health care project that it says promises a new generation of vital signs monitors.

Under the new funding, the NanoFabrication Facility (NanoFab) will acquire new equipment, a Centre of Excellence in Integrated NanoTools will be created, and new applied research will be undertaken to develop more cost-effective alloy materials.

In addition to developments in nanotechnology, a University of Alberta project being conducted in partnership with Seiko Instruments, MI Laboratories (Sony) and Capital Health received a $2.3 million infusion from the federal government. The E-Health Edmonton Project, also known as the wireless wearable physiological monitor (WWPM) project, is entering its user interface trial phase, in collaboration with Capital Health. The device has the potential to improve the quality of healthcare through non-intrusive remote patient monitoring.

Details of the projects are as follows:

1) Creation of the Centre of Excellence in Integrated NanoTools (WD funding – $1.8 million, Alberta Innovation and Science Funding – $500,000). The intent of the project is to create the this centre of excellence at the University of Alberta, in order to accelerate its research capability and link it with initiatives at other institutions and industry. The centre will occupy space in the new National Research Council’s National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) building, currently under construction at the university.

2) Nanofabrication facility (NanoFab) equipment upgrades (WD funding – $1 million). The facility will acquire new equipment in order to upgrade their silicon wafer processing capability, and to establish product development critical process equipment, in order to increase the utility of the facility for commercial users. The new equipment will be installed in the existing NanoFab location at the University of Alberta.

3) Silicon and nano-sized powders for electronic applications (WD funding – $305,000, Alberta Innovation and Science Funding – $150,000). This project involves applied research to understand the characteristics of fine metal powders in the sub-micron and nano-sized range, and to develop the technology to produce them. Copper powders may eventually replace the more expensive nickel or silver-palladium alloys used in microelectronic devices, such as computers and mobile phones.

4) The wireless wearable physiological monitor project (WD funding – $2.84 million, Alberta Innovation and Science Funding – $500,000). The project’s main objective is to develop new physiological sensors and integrate them into health monitoring, health promotion and illness prevention. The total projected cost is $13,138,000, with primary funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada ($2.84 million); the government of Alberta ($500,000); with the remainder being in-kind contributions from the project partners. Capital Health, the regional health authority for Edmonton, will play a significant role in managing the clinical trials in conjunction with the project team and the University of Alberta.