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Exploring Rare-Earth-Based Nanomaterials for Optical and Magnetic Applications

The remarkable optomagnetic properties of the rare-earth elements (RE) make RE-based materials ideal for biomedical applications, including diagnostic (for instance imaging or thermal sensing) and therapeutic (for instance, drug delivery and photodynamic therapy) approaches. This is due to the unique electronic properties of the f-elements allowing for upconversion and near-infrared emission under near-infrared excitation as well as high magnetic moments. Having a fast and reliable synthesis route towards Sodium rare-earth fluorides small nanoparticles (NaREF4 NPs) on hand, we now explore various nanoparticle architectures and compositions with the goal to optimize their optomagnetic properties, ultimately resulting in the design of biocompatible multimodal bioprobes.

Nanotalk - Dr.bmp

Dr. Eva Hemmer

University of Ottawa

November 15th, 2022

Nanotalk - 4 Oct - Dr.bmp

Interdimensional Effects in Nanostructures

Dr. Rainer Dick

University of Saskatchewan

September 13th, 2022

The number of spatial dimensions affects basic physical properties like interaction potentials between particles, densities of states, and scattering cross sections. Nanostructures often contain embeddings of low-dimensional systems, e.g., quantum wires or quantum wells, in three-dimensional systems. Depending on the energies of electrons or phonons in these systems, we should be able to observe transitions between low-dimensional and three-dimensional behavior in these systems. I will introduce and discuss theoretical models for the quantitative description of the transition regime between low-dimensional and three-dimensional behavior.

Nanotalk - 13 Sep. - Prof.bmp

Entangled Microwave Radiation and its Application in Quantum Reading 

Dr. Shabir Barzanjeh

University of Calgary

October 4th, 2022

The recent interest in mechanical quantum systems is driven not only by fundamental tests of quantum gravity but also to develop a new generation of hybrid quantum technologies. Here I confirm the long-standing prediction that a parametrically driven mechanical oscillator can entangle electromagnetic fields. We observe stationary emission of path-entangled microwave radiation from a micro-machined silicon nanostring oscillator, squeezing the joint field operators of two thermal modes by 3.40 (37)~dB below the vacuum level. This entanglement can be used to implement Quantum Illumination. Quantum illumination is a powerful sensing technique that employs entangled photons to boost the detection of low-reflectivity objects in environments with bright thermal noise. The promised advantage over classical strategies is particularly evident at low signal photon flux. This feature makes the protocol an ideal prototype for non-invasive biomedical scanning or low-power short-range radar detection. We experimentally demonstrated quantum illumination at microwave frequencies. We generate entangled fields using a Josephson parametric converter at millikelvin temperatures to illuminate at room temperature an object at a distance of one meter. These results are experimental proof-of-principle of bistatic radar setup.

Climate Solutions through Material Innovations

Dr. Val Chiykowski

Evok Innovations

August 17th, 2022

With materials underpinning nearly every sector, industry and application, climate solutions in any vertical will require innovations in both conventional and advanced materials. To complement the discovery and development of new nanomaterials, it will be critical to re-evaluate how we source, processes and manufacturing even the most common materials around us from cement to lithium.


Seeing inside lithium-ion batteries using in-situ and operando techniques

Dr. Mike Fleischauer

Department of Physics

University of Alberta

June 10, 2021

Lithium-ion batteries need to be stored and operated in ‘Goldilocks’ conditions – not too hot, and not too cold.  Non-ideal conditions lead to rapid deterioration of either cell performance (at low temperatures) or cell components (at high temperatures, high pressures, or both).  We use harsh environments as experimental variables to help understand the dynamic behavior of lithium-rich materials.  This talk will describe how we use materials challenges to drive (ex-situ, in-situ, and operando) characterization capability development, and use our enabling hardware to drive materials physics and chemistry.  Specific examples of metastable phase formation, accelerated electrolyte breakdown, and creep deformation from the lithium, lithium-silicon, lithium-aluminum, and lithium-silver systems will be provided.


Designing Nanostructured Electrodes for CO2 Conversion

Dr. Cao Thang Dinh

Department of Chemical Engineering

May 13, 2021

Electrochemical CO2 conversion to fuels and chemicals, powered by renewable electricity, offers a path to address simultaneously the CO2 emission problem and the intermittency issue of renewable energy sources. The transformation of renewable electricity and CO2 into chemical fuels, which can be readily integrated into current infrastructures, provide a long-term and large-scale solution for renewable energy storage. Converting CO2 into chemical feedstocks can enable the sequestration of CO2 into long-lifetime products such as polymers. A critical component in electrochemical CO2 conversion systems is the gas diffusion electrode because it governs CO2 conversion performance, including product selectivity, energy efficiency, and system stability. A gas diffusion electrode comprises a catalyst layer deposited onto a porous hydrophobic substrate, i.e., the gas diffusion layer. Typically, CO2 molecules diffuse through the nanoporous network of the gas diffusion layer and reach the surface of the catalyst where they are transformed into desired products. Thus, the structures and compositions of both catalyst and gas diffusion layers play crucial roles in electrochemical CO2 conversion. In this talk, I will discuss the development of gas diffusion electrodes for electrochemical CO2 conversion, focusing on both design principles and various approaches for fabricating nanostructured electrodes.

Environmental synergies and microbial growth phase enable formation of bionanohybrid lifeforms

Dr. Robert Barnes

Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

March 18, 2021

From the dawn of life itself, microbes have had intimate associations with minerals, with a few organisms in natural environments producing nano-particulate oxide or sulfide mineral phases, internally or externally on their cells. Recently a wider range of bacteria have demonstrated an ability to synthesize surface-associated nanoparticles (SANs) through exogenous metal ions reacting with sulfide via cysteine metabolism, resulting in the emergence of a new lifeform – a biological nanoparticle hybrid (bionanohybrid). The attached nanoparticles may couple to extracellular electron transfer, facilitating de novo photoelectrochemical processes. While SAN-cell coupling in hybrid organisms is opening a range of biotechnological possibilities, observation of bionanohybrids is not commonly reported in natural environments and their lab-based engineered remains difficult to control. We describe, for the first time, the critical role that microbial growth stage, cell densities and exogenous metal concentrations, play in defining and controlling the form and occurrence of diverse bionanohybrids. A minimum cell density of cells is needed, at a given metal ion dosing, to uniformly coat cells with SANs. This can be altered by adjusting the amount of cysteine bearing peptide present. Critically, bionanohybrids exhibit a remarkable ability for binary fission and cysteine metabolism, creating subsequent generations of this novel lifeform. We show that bacterial cells can biosynthesize composite metal sulfide SANs from diverse mixtures of copper, silver and bismuth metal ions, and that by fine-tuning cysteine levels, microbial growth and metal dosing, different bacterial species can be coaxed into a bionanohybrid lifestyle. This opens an avenue to controlled production of SANs tailored to specific technological functions.

Chemistry of Nanoporous Metal Organic Frameworks from Fundamental to Commercial

Dr. George Shumizu


November 27th 2019

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a newer class of porous solids. They offer essentially limitless opportunities for modular structural variation. This leads to tunable properties, but an Achilles Heel for MOFs has been high stability to harsh chemical environments and high temperatures. We have focused our efforts on using MOFs for gas separations and as new proton conductors. Through both themes, we have spanned more basic to more applicable materials. This talk will cover our efforts in both areas including a MOF that is being commercialized for industrial carbon capture.


From Electrochemistry to Emulsions; A Tale of Interface-Governed Materials Science

Dr. Brandy (Kinkead) Pilapil

Chemical Petroleum Engineering

November 29th 2018

Materials science is a highly interdisciplinary field with a common focus – understanding and applying matter to perform a task with maximum efficiency.  In my research, an extensive understanding of interfacial interactions (or lack thereof) has been key in the development of materials for applications ranging from liquid crystal displays, to fuel cells and petroleum technology.  In this presentation, I will discuss my research in the development of bi-continuous hierarchical fuel cell electrocatalysts from self-assembled templates and studies of particle-stabilized oil-in-water emulsions. 

Cathodic catalyst layers are a common limiting material in the development of H2/O2 fuel cells due to their high precious-metal content required for effective catalysis and limited durability.  In this work, interfacial self-assembly is used as a tool to develop catalyst layers for ORR with exceptional mass transport properties and well-dispersed nanocatalysts, to enable efficient catalysis with minimal precious metal loading.  Moreover, favourable interactions between the precious metal catalysts and the incorporated support materials improve long-term durability due to the intimate interactions afforded by the material preparation method.

Emulsion stabilization and de-stabilization is of utmost importance to a range of applications including food sciences and enhanced oil recovery.  Particle-stabilized emulsions were discovered over 100 years ago by Pickering and Ramsden, and have since been studied extensively for their abilities to provide extensive stability and additional functionality to emulsions and emulsion-derived materials.  In the work presented here, emulsions were determined to be “particle-stabilized” without interfacial interactions between the oil-water interface and the particle surfaces.  Characterization of these fascinating new materials is presented and the stabilization mechanism discussed

Nature inspired multifunctional nanomaterials for energy, environment and health

Dr. Vinayaraj Ozhukil Kollath

Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

October 25th 2018

Nature inspired chemistry provides us several interesting materials with tunable properties and cost-effectiveness. Shape and size controlled stable organic nanoparticles (NPs) will have versatile applications in both fundamental and applied research. Bio-inspired catechol-amine, dopamine is known to produce spherical NPs in a one-pot method. During this talk, the parameters affecting the size and shape of such organic NPs and their fluorescent properties will be discussed. Other catechol-amine molecules in the safe family as dopamine is used to produce contrasting size and shaped organic fluorescent NPs. Applications of the developed NPs vary from studies of colloidal systems to carbon support in energy storage-conversion devices to potential carrier for drug/vaccines.


Surface Engineering Nanoparticles for Their Use in Nanocomposite Latexes and Film

Dr. Stephanie Kedzior

Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

February 6th 2018


Surface engineering nanoparticles allows us to fully take advantage of their properties for their use in applications such as nanocomposite latexes and films. This talk will focus on my PhD work, using cellulose nanocrystals as property modifiers in adhesive latexes, and will also describe my current postdoctoral work using nanocomposite films for oil sensors. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) are rod-shaped, anionic, colloidally stable nanoparticles that are extracted by sulfuric acid hydrolysis from renewable sources. CNCs have recently been shown to stabilize oil-in-water emulsions and foams. In my PhD work, CNCs were non-covalenty modified with either surfactant or polymer in order to provide improved surface activity. Miniemulsion polymerization was performed with CNC-surfactant combinations, and micro suspension polymerization was performed with CNC-polymer combinations. The resulting latex particle size, size distribution, surface charge and morphology as well as polymer molecular weight and conversion were studied. Furthermore, CNCs were also covalently modified to yield hydrophobic particles that were incorporated inside the polymer latexes. The work aimed to extend the use of CNCs in emulsion polymerization and in particular impart new approaches to incorporate CNCs into adhesives latexes. My current postdoctoral work involves the preparation and characterization of nanocomposite films to be used as sensors for oil leaks, strain sensing, and temperature. 

Theories of Quantum Resources

Dr. Gilad Gour

Applied Mathematics

October 26th 2017

A common theme in Chemistry, Thermodynamics, and Information Theory is how one type of resource -- be it chemicals, heat baths, or communication channels -- can be used to produce another. These processes of conversion and their applications are studied under the general heading of "resource theories". While resource theories use a wide range of sophisticated and apparently unrelated mathematical techniques there is also an emerging general mathematical framework which seems to underpin all of them. In this talk, I will give an overview on the field of quantum resource theories, starting with examples in quantum information science, focusing particularly on the theory of quantum entanglement. I will then discuss the general structure of quantum resource theories, introduce different mathematical models, and discuss the mathematical techniques used in this field. I will end with some applications in different areas of physics.

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