New lab will explore cutting-edge tech



theresa tayler/metro calgary


Colin Dalton, facility manager of the new nanotech lab at the University of Calgary.

It’s a laboratory that could make the tidiest of neat freaks, and cleanliest of clean fanatics look filthy.

A new lab at the University of Calgary means that tiny, teeny technology — used in everything from state-of-the-art medical equipment to cellphones and iPods — can now be produced here in Calgary.

The Advanced Micro/-Nanosytems integration facility (AMIF), located at the Schulich School of Engineering, is a sterile environment in which engineers and scientists can develop the mechanisms to integrate conventional technologies with emerging nanoscale processes.

“This is an integration facility where we can make that leap from fundamental research to commercial prototyping,” said Elizabeth Cannon, Dean of the Schulich School of Engineering, and spokeswoman for the U of C’s nanostrategy.

The room is built on a metre-thick, floating, concrete pad that makes the environment vibration-free. Researchers must wear special uniforms and pass through a filter room before entering the lab.

“Even the floor is dust-proof,” explained Colin Dalton, facility manager of AMIF.

In May, the provincial government announced that it has put $130 million into nanotechnology research.

Dalton said it’s an exciting and interesting time for Calgary and the province.

“I went into this myself because you become involved in and get to work on amazing, life-changing projects — from medical technology to things like the new iPhone.”