With small equipment at their feet
to symbolize the world of nanotechnology, U of A, National
Research Council and government representatives break
ground for NINT. From left, NRC President Dr. Arthur
Caty; Alberta Minister of Innovation and Science Victor
Doerksen; federal Health Minister Anne McLellan, representing
Industry Minister Allan Rock, the minister responsible
for the National Research Council; and U of A President
Dr. Roderick Fraser.
-Photo courtesy of NRC
In one sense, it was a tiny and quiet affair,
but with huge implications for Alberta and Canada. A ceremonial
groundbreaking Oct. 4 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton
marked the start of construction of one of the world's most
technologically advanced research facilities, the permanent
home of the National Research Council's new National Institute
NINT's laboratory space will be the quietest in Canada. Nano-scale
research demands "quiet" lab space. In science,
"quiet space" is lab space with ultra-low vibration
and minimal acoustical noise or electro-magnetic interference.
Nanotechnology is the application of science to developing
new materials and processes by manipulating molecular and
atomic particles. A nanometre is a billionth of a metre, which
is about /80,000 of the diameter of a human hair, or 10 times
the diameter of a hydrogen atom.
"The established reputation for excellence in nanotechnology
and engineering at Alberta's universities and our demonstrated
strengths in these areas made Alberta the logical choice for
the National Institute for Nanotechnology," said Alberta
Minister of Innovation and Science Victor Doerksen. "Alberta
continues to build its world-class research and development
environment through partnerships with other governments, universities,
businesses and industries. The province's prosperity rests
on a strong commitment to continue building our knowledge-based
First announced two years ago (see The PEGG, November 2001),
NINT is a partnership between the Government of Canada through
the National Research Council, the Government of Alberta and
the University of Alberta. It will enable NRC and the university
to expand their collaborations in nanotechnology research,
such as the synthesis of new materials and the integration
of nanotechnology with other microtechnologies to make practical
The building will include specialized spaces for laboratories
in chemical and biochemical synthesis and analysis of the
material structure at the atomic scale, as well as a Class
1000 Clean Room for the production of nanostructured systems.
NINT is purchasing the latest generation of scientific equipment,
including electron and scanning probe microscopes, and chemical
and material analysis instruments.
The $40-million building cost is one third of the $120 million
that will be spent on the institute during its first five
years. The balance will go to equipment, staffing and operations.
The National Research Council will contribute $60 million,
and another $60 million will be a joint contribution from
the Government of Alberta and the University of Alberta. The
Government of Canada has committed an additional $12 million
a year for operating costs, beginning in year six.
The NRC National Institute for Nanotechnology will occupy
four floors of the six-storey, 20,000-square-metre building
to be constructed on the University of Alberta campus. Floors
five and six will house the Mechanical Engineering Department
of the Faculty of Engineering, and will be dedicated to nanochemical
and nanomechanical research activities. The institute will
accommodate up to 120 NRC staff, as well as 45 guest workers
from industry and universities. It will also provide training
opportunities for 275 graduate and post-doctoral researchers.
This complex facility will be designed and built by Alberta
companies. Its architects are from Cohos Evamy and the construction
manager is PCL-Maxam. Design and construction will create
210 person years of work - including about 30 person years
for design alone. The building will be complete in fall 2005.