The Canadian Light Source and the Canadian Neutron Facility will allow Canada to be a major player in materials research.
The increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary research to undertake problems of national and global significance underscores the importance of state-of-the-art national facilities in support of the Canadian research effort. In this issue of ACCN two national facilities that are destined to enable Canada to be a major player in materials research are highlighted in feature articles. The first is the Canadian Light Source (CLS), which is under construction in Saskatoon, SK. The second is the Canadian Neutron Facility (CNF), to be built at Chalk River, ON, which is at the advanced proposal stage. These facilities represent a key element in the strategy for attracting and retaining excellent research scientists in Canada. This column provides a brief update on these two projects with emphasis on their importance to chemists and the chemical industry.
The Canadian Light Source
The construction of the Canadian Light Source Inc. (CLSI), the $173 million Canadian national synchrotron facility, began in earnest in April 1999, after the announcement of the $56.4 million funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (C FI) on March 31, 1999. This is the largest scientific project, both in size of the facility and cost, in Canada in at least the last 30 years. CLSI has been incorporated as a non-profit company, wholly owned by the University of Saskatchewan, to carry out the national research and development mandate. Nearly all of the required new money ($140.9 million) is now in place from federal, provincial, civic, university and industry contributions.
This project will be tremendously important to many academic scientists in a variety of disciplines (for example, chemistry, physics, geology, materials, surface science, biochemistry, medicine), and will also be critical to the development of many industrial sectors (such as pharmaceutical, biotechnology, mining, environmental, agriculture, materials and coatings, petrochemical, medical imaging, semiconductors and micromachining).
Indeed, the CLSI will have a unique focus among national synchrotron facilities, with a strong commitment to private-public partnerships and serving industrial users, as well as the traditional focus on innovative academic research. The composition of the CLSI Board, and the vision and mission statements, reflect the importance of this unique focus.
The progress in the last 18 months has been quite remarkable, and the project is on time and on budget. The immense building (84 m x 83 m) is nearing completion. The booster ring and the major dipole magnets for the main storage ring have been ordered and are to be delivered within one year. Over 20 new employees have been hired (two foreign, and five Canadian from the U.S.) in the last year, and CLS policies are being developed (including detailed business and marketing plans) for operations and growth beyond the opening of the overall facility in January 4, 2004. The CSC is proposing to hold the annual conference in Saskatoon in 2005 to coincide with the opening of the CLS and the centenary of the province of Saskatchewan.
Most importantly, the scientific program is well developed already. Eleven beamline proposals and two letters of intent have been submitted by teams of scientists from across Canada, seven beamline proposals have been approved to proceed, and three more will be approved shortly. For example, three infrared beamlines are in the design stage, along with protein crystallography, XAFS, soft X-ray spectromicroscopy and soft X-ray spectroscopy beamlines. A hard X-ray powder diffraction and two other far ultra violet/soft X-ray beamlines should be approved shortly. Well over 100 Canadian faculty and senior government scientists are on the beamline teams, along with one CLS beamline employee who coordinates the design and construction.
In the province of Alberta, the Alberta Synchrotron Institute (ASI) has been created to prepare Alberta science and industry for participation in the CLS project. The ASI will support programs for synchrotron access, information and training to allow Alberta to take full advantage of this national resource. The ASI is jointly sponsored by the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge and the Alberta Science and Research Authority.
The Canadian Neutron Facility
The initial stage of the CNF project (environmental assessment) was approved in principle by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Union in November 1999. Funds were not identified in the February 2000 budget to proceed with the CNF. During the past year vigorous efforts to educate government officials on the importance of the CNF to support research and development of advanced materials have continued, especially by the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP). A decision on funding the CNF has been further delayed by the (early) election call.
In a recent survey of materials researchers across Canada, carried out for NSERC by an Advisory Croup on Materials Research, one of the questions was: "What are the three Canadian 'major facilities' that are most important to your research program?" The facility most mentioned by researchers was the neutron source at Chalk River. The CNF will provide a new capability in Canada for studying materials of interest to chemists and the chemical industry including polymers, ceramics, high temperature superconductors, biological materials and synthetic nanostructures. The existing NRU reactor at Chalk River is not expected to operate beyond 2005. It will take six years to construct the CNF and commission the first neutron instruments. It is not too late to voice individual support for the inclusion of the CNF in the 2001 federal budget. Acknowledgements: Dr. Mike Bancroft (Director, CLS, Saskatoon) and Dr. John Root (Senior Research Officer, Neutron Program for Materials Research, Chalk River Labs) kindly provided an update on these two projects.
Tristram Chivers is the president of the Canadian Society for Chemistry for 1999-2000. He formerly served as treasurer of the CSC, 1990-1992. He has been at the department of chemistry, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, since 1969 where he is a professor of chemistry and former head of department (1977-1982). Recently, he has served as group chair for the two NSERC Chemistry Crant Selection Committees (1996-1999) and as senior editor of The Canadian Journal of Chemistry (1993.1998).