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New advanced spectroscopy research laboratory receives $5M funding


Vancouver, BC – The British Columbia government is providing $5.1 million to help fund the new Laboratory for Advanced Spectroscopy and Imaging Research (LASIR) at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

“The LASIR project will put BC at the vanguard of laser-related research by exploring new frontiers in laser-matter interaction,” says Murray Coell, minister of advanced education.

Through the LASIR project, researchers expect to develop such innovations as new ways to reinvent circuitry in everything from computers to cars, or ways to protect the privacy of electronic conversations. The project will include a total of 523 sq m of laboratory and other space at both UBC and SFU. Within these spaces, 17 end stations will be linked to a core of seven state-of-the-art laser systems.

The fields of expertise of the laboratories’ principal users include laser chemistry, catalysis, combustion, materials research, atmospheric science and spectroscopy.

LASIR may hold the key to breakthroughs in the areas of light-controlled magnetic materials, quantum information processing, and new processes for making nanostructured materials. A few of the possibilities include:

– A magnet that can be switched on and off by light, creating new possibilities for the inner workings of electronic devices.

– Improvements to human health and the elimination of smog by using lasers to study the chemistry of single aerosol particles in the atmosphere. Presently, aerosols have a large, but poorly understood impact on health and air quality.

– Smaller circuitry for manufactured goods. This type of research is called nanolithography and analyzes patterns in materials with dimensions of nanometers. Innovations in this area may provide a way to create more powerful computers.

LASIR will be the only laboratory of its kind in Canada, in terms of the range of laser equipment and applications. Its infrastructure consists of several pieces of laser equipment and experimental apparatus.

Since the researchers at SFU and UBC have complementary interests and expertise, the equipment will be divided accordingly. The LASIR infrastructure at SFU will be integrated into another project researching new materials.

The project is 87% equipment and 13% renovations and new construction, and will include a total of 523 sq m of laboratory and other space.