Researchers in Atlantic Canada are set to explore a new area of light thanks to a $1.62 million collaboration between Dalhousie University, Metamaterial Technologies Inc. (MTI) and Mitacs.
The project, which is the largest-ever Mitacs-supported project in the region, will build the research partnership between Dal and MTI, while attracting the best new researchers and inventors in a relatively new area called metamaterials science.
Advances and discoveries in electricity, electromagnetic technology, wireless communication, lasers and computers have all been driven by an understanding about the nature of light and what is possible to do with it. Metamaterials science has made it possible to manipulate light in ways that have never been achievable in nature before.
“Mitacs is pleased to support this important research collaboration in the field of light manipulation,” says Alejandro Adem, CEO & scientific director of Mitacs. “Discoveries in this arena will impact a variety of sectors ranging from aviation to healthcare, improving the lives of Canadians.”
The project was announced at a Dal-hosted panel discussion Tuesday (Jan. 15) focusing on talent retention and development in the Atlantic region, and the importance of collaboration between academia and industry. Participants included George Palikaras, founder and CEO of Metamaterial Technologies Inc.; Dalhousie Physics and Atmospheric Science Professor Ian Hill; Simon Jacques, president of Airbus Canada; and Eric Bosco, chief business development & partnership officer with Mitacs.
The research will span different areas of the application of metamaterials, including:
- Absorption enhancement of ultra-thin solar cells using metamaterials: MetaSOLAR, a highly efficient solar panel to be used for solar powered aerial vehicles, will collect solar light from all angles and absorb it across the most useful spectral parts. The technology will be ideal for lightweight aircraft and vehicles, where efficiency and weight are of prime importance.
- Light emission enhancement for LEDs: This project will investigate and optimize an LED emission enhancer that can be mounted on existing LED sources to substantially improve their brightness.
- Development of optical filters based on metamaterials: This project will include the development of next-generation optics for augmented reality applications. It will bring together experts from the fields of materials science, chemical engineering, nanotechnology, photonics and metamaterials.
- Improvement of medical diagnostics using metamaterials: The goal of this project is to develop a wearable thin-film glucose sensor, that will allow for more precise blood glucose measurements.
“Materials research is complex and Mitacs researchers allow us to investigate research questions pushing the boundaries of conventional knowledge,” says George Palikaras, founder and CEO of MTI. “We believe that the partnership with Dalhousie University will lead to new breakthroughs in metamaterials, applications and nanofabrication techniques that will re-shape how we think about optics.”
Support for this collaboration is made possible through Mitacs’ research internship program that helps businesses to solve innovation challenges with academic expertise and matched funding.
“This is an incredible boost for the innovation ecosystem of our region and for Dalhousie,” says Alice Aiken, Dalhousie vice-president research and innovation. “Our partnership with Mitacs and Metamaterial Technologies Inc. allows us to recruit and train a number of new PhDs in advanced materials and nanotechnology and conduct the type cutting edge research that has the potential to disrupt the way the world works today. Thank you to the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia for their continued support of Mitacs”
Those interested in applying for a position, or learning more about the program can visit the MTI website.
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