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New research complex is geoscience and photonics powerhouse


Ottawa, ON The University of Ottawa celebrated the official opening of its new Advanced Research Complex (ARC) last week.

The $70-million facility will bring together researchers, students and partners from various disciplines to foster greater scientific exchange. The complex houses specialized laboratories, an accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) and vibration-resistant floors. The university says the complex takes an important step towards making Ottawa the geoscience epicentre of Canada and the photonics capital of the world.

“With the opening of the Advanced Research Complex, we’re making significant strides toward fulfilling our goal of becoming one of the top five research universities in Canada by 2020,” said Allan Rock, the university’s president.

Weighing in at 44 tonnes, the new $10 million accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) facility will enable scientists to conduct the most advanced environmental research and unlock important natural mysteries of resources, climate and health.

Pioneered more than 30 years ago, the accelerator mass spectrometer is the only one of its kind in Canada. The facility will train AMS laboratory technologists and managers from all over North America.

“The new facilities will help the photonics and Earth sciences teams in developing new technologies that will lead to improvements in our everyday lives,” said Mona Nemer, vice-president, research, at the University of Ottawa. “More accurate medical diagnoses, faster telecommunications, safe disposal of nuclear waste and the development of solar energy are a few examples of the solutions to today’s world challenges that ARC will be able to tackle.”

ARC includes 10 laboratories, 4 raft slabs (vibration-resistant floating floors), and during construction, 635 concrete-filled steel piles were drilled into the bedrock below the facility for stability.

Named for one of the university’s former deans of science, the Lalonde Lab will house geoscientists and engineers on the warehouse-like ground and lower levels, including in the AMS lab. The AMS measures isotopes at very low concentrations in natural materials, such as human tissue and minerals, which could help one day yield applications in energy, health and the environment.

On the upper floors of the research complex, scientists working in photonics will use sophisticated lasers to push our understanding of the fundamental interactions between light and matter. This information will serve as a foundation to develop applied technologies that advance fields such as medical diagnostics, renewable energy and telecommunications.