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Quantum and Nanotechnology

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exterior of university building

"You'll roll down your big screen TV. And your cell phone? Just roll it up and stash it in your pocket or purse."

- Hany Aziz, NSERC/Dalsa Industrial Research Chair


A history of innovation and commercialization of great ideas has made Waterloo Region the area to watch for emerging industrial trends for over 100 years.

That reputation continues to grow - in virtually all industry sectors, the spirit of collaboration that thrives here has fostered unprecedented numbers of product success stories in the exciting new world of advanced materials.

Our Region's leadership in nanotechnology research and development has encouraged world-renowned corporations to establish facilities here - hiring the highly skilled scientists and engineers graduating out of our universities to develop advanced materials and manufacturers unique nanotechnology-enabled products.

Large scale nanotechnology 'users' such as BlackBerry, COM DEV and Teledyne DALSA, operate alongside experts in engineering (like Angstrom Engineering, PEER Group), and innovators (such as ON Semiconductor, Lumotune and Nicoya Lifesciences).

A unique academic environment with cooperative partnerships with high-tech businesses is fuelling unprecedented discovery in Waterloo Region using nanotechnology:

  • The Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre at the University of Waterloo houses over 50 researchers, 100+ graduate students and 500+ undergraduate nanotechnology engineering students.
  • In the Institute for Quantum Computing's state-of-the-art laboratories, researchers explore quantum information through experiments in optics, nano-electronics, nuclear magnetic resonance, quantum sensors and more.
  • The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology is a first-class institute where scientists and engineers are discovering and developing nano-materials, nano electronics, nano-instrumentation and nano-biosystems that will fundamentally change the world.

Biomedical Breakthroughs

Nanoparticles are being developed that, after being injected into the eyes of patients with macular degeneration, promise to dramatically reduce the number of treatments required to keep the disease in check and increase the effectiveness of each treatment.

Similar technology is being used to target cancer cells, and the concept has potential for success against other diseases.

Next Generation Electronics

Flexible, organic, light-emitting devices built on carbon-based semiconductors have been developed that are minimizing weight, adding durability and costing less to produce that traditionally produced silicon semiconductors.

Now being tested and refined at nano research facilities here in Waterloo Region, this discovery could revolutionize displays used in every electronic market.

Boosting Energy Storage Potential

The potential to develop more sustainable, renewable energy and electric vehicles has inspired research into improving battery performance.

By intimately mixing insulating sulphur and conductive carbon on the nanoscale, major advancements are being realized.

Saving Lives With Fast-Acting Instrumentation

In developing countries, the safety of local drinking water is an everyday health concern, yet traditional testing to confirm water quality takes weeks.

Using nanotechnology, systems design engineers are perfecting affordable instrumentation that can conduct on-the-spot testing for reliable results in just minutes.

Advanced Materials With Enhanced Properties

Tiny, nanocrystalline cellulose fibres, derived from forestry and agricultural waste, are being combined with different plastics to improve a material's existing properties or add entirely new ones.

This nanotechnology-enabled development, pioneered in Waterloo Region, is already benefiting components manufactured for the automotive industry and is being evaluated for use in other industries, from consumer packaging to high-performance window applications.

Sometimes the Biggest Ideas Come From Thinking Really Small

The breakthrough initiatives in our Region, working with and assembling molecules at the tiny, sub-micron level, are promising to transform products in every industry sector. In fact, across all sectors globally from 2012 to 2014, sales of nanointermediates grew from $167 billion to $453 billion, while sales of nano-enabled products grew from $848 billion to $1.6 trillion. (2015)

Fast Facts

  • Innovative educational systems in the Region graduate a wealth of highly-skilled scientists and engineers - all benefiting from leading edge, nanotechnology-centred facilities and relevant, built-in experiential learning opportunities.
  • Canada's largest engineering school - the University of Waterloo - is in our Region - operating the largest post-secondary co-operative program of its kind in the world, graduating 'workplace ready' individuals.
  • Waterloo Region boasts 150+ research institutions including the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the institute for Quantum Computing, the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology and the Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology at the University of Waterloo.
  • Private sector product developers and manufacturers appreciate the University of Waterloo's established intellectual property protocols that ensure rights to any discoveries follow the inventor.
  • Waterloo Region manufacturers benefit from its proximity to the US market, with 158 million people within one day's drive. They are supported by a state-of-the-art transportation and logistics infrastructure.

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