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University of Ottawa dedicates new photonics center

03 October 2014

Univ. of Ottawa, Advanced Research CenterThe University of Ottawa opened its Advanced Research Complex (ARC) this week. The $70 million ARC will bring together researchers, students and partners from various disciplines to foster greater scientific exchange.

The building was designed as the new home for the entire photonics faculty at the university, according to SPIE Fellow Robert Boyd, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Nonlinear Optics.

"Until now, the physicists and engineers were in separate buildings. We are now in the same building, with enormous implications for the synergism between the engineering and fundamental physics sides of photonics," he says.

"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," says Allan Rock, president of the University of Ottawa. "This would not have been possible without the support of the governments of Canada and Ontario."

The complex houses specialized laboratories, an accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) and vibration-resistant floors. The $10 million AMS facility will enable scientists to conduct the most advanced environmental research and unlock important natural mysteries of resources, climate and health.

Boyd fills in some of the technical specifications: The photonics labs are constructed on concrete slabs that are mechanically isolated from the rest of the building and are supported on concrete columns anchored in the bedrock. The laboratory space is temperature stabilized to +/- 0.5 degree C and with relative humidity of 50 +/- 2%.

"These environmental standards are among the best in the world for a photonics research laboratory, and will allow us to perform experiments that require exacting long-term stability. My own interests span from engineering photonics to optical tests of foundations of quantum mechanics. The former requires stability for reasons associated, for example, with interferometric testing. The latter requires good long term stability because some of our measurements involve very low count rates and therefore many hours of integration."

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

The Advanced Research Complex received funding from the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and from the Province of Ontario through the Ontario Research Fund.

"The new facilities will help the photonics and Earth sciences teams in developing new technologies that will lead to improvements in our everyday lives," says Mona Nemer, university vice-president for research "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."