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Flagship Nanotechnology Institute's New Home Features Canada's Quietest Space

Facility among top in the world of the very, very small

June 22, 2006 – Edmonton, AB — Hundreds of Canada's leading scientists and engineers gathered in Edmonton today to celebrate the opening of one of the world's most technologically advanced research facilities – the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT). The $52.2 million facility is designed to provide the optimal conditions for nano-scale research and to foster collaboration between researchers. It includes a suite of characterization labs that are located in 'Canada's quietest space', which for scientists means a place with ultra-low vibration and minimal acoustical noise or electro-magnetic interference – an environment which is essential for research at the nano scale. 

"Not only will this institute be home to some of the most innovative and pioneering research in the world, these facilities will contribute to improving Canada's innovation performance," said the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry. "It will increase our nation's ability to compete in the global marketplace, and I have no doubt that the research carried out here will touch the lives of all Canadians."

The 20,000 square metre building will be shared by the NRC National Institute for Nanotechnology and the University of Alberta. It will include the NINT Innovation Centre, a research transfer facility where tenants working on commercializing nanotechnology will lease both lab and office space. Other specialized spaces include: laboratories for chemical and biochemical synthesis and analysis of the material structure at the atomic scale; and a Class 1000 clean room for the production of nano-structured systems. The facility will house more than $40 million of the latest generation of scientific equipment including electron and scanning probe microscopes, and chemical and material analysis instruments. NINT will occupy five floors and the top two floors will be used by the University of Alberta for nanotechnology-related research. 

"Alberta is proud to be a partner in the National Institute of Nanotechnology," said Victor Doerksen, Minister of Alberta Innovation and Science.  "The expertise and knowledge that are being developed in this facility will lead to breakthroughs in agriculture, forestry, energy, health and the environment, generating new businesses and skilled jobs and providing tremendous benefits to Albertans and Canadians."

The cost for the NINT portion of the building was $52.2 million. The Government of Alberta provided $40 million for the building as a part of their commitment to the NINT initiative. The remaining funding came from the Government of Canada through the National Research Council, Western Economic Diversification Canada and Natural Resources Canada.

"NRC strives for the kind of research environment that leads to impact and value for Canada – technology commercialization, the creation of spin-off companies and other new enterprises. One of our goals is to contribute to the development and growth of a strong, vibrant nanotechnology cluster and ultimately, to the Canadian economy," said Dr. Pierre Coulombe, President of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

The National Institute for Nanotechnology conducts advanced research and fosters innovation in support of a new generation of nanotechnology-based firms. Canada's flagship nanotechnology institute has created a unique multidisciplinary environment which integrates National Research Council (NRC) and the Universityof Albertaresearchers from numerous disciplines. Established in 2001, NINT is a joint initiative of the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the NRC and the Universityof Alberta. 

"We are delighted to be part of this bold and innovative research partnership model, harnessing the combined potential of government and universities in an area of great significant and promise for Canada and indeed the world", said University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera.  "We are proud to have this outstanding facility, and the wonderful research and teaching environment it creates, housed in Edmonton at the University of Alberta".


  • The NRC National Institute for Nanotechnology will occupy 13,000 square metres (141,000 square feet) of the approximately 20,000 square metres (230,000 square feet) of the building. In total, the building consists of seven working floors, including an underground floor that houses clean rooms, and an unoccupied penthouse that contains the mechanical systems for the building.
  • Exacting technical specifications make the first floor laboratories in this facility Canada's quietest research space. For scientists, quiet space means a place where all outside interference is minimized in order to provide optimal conditions for microscopes and other instruments. Features of the NINT quiet laboratory space include ultra low vibration, minimal acoustical noise and electro-magnetic interference, and constant temperature and humidity.
  • The preliminary budget for the National Institute for Nanotechnology was $120 million for the first five years (fiscal years 2001-02 to 2006-07). Half those funds come from the Government of Canada and half from the Government of Alberta and the University of Alberta. NINT research projects have received additional funding from Alberta, Canadian and international granting agencies.
  • The total cost of designing and constructing the NINT portion of the building was $52.2 million, which was funded by the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada.   The Government of Alberta contributed $40 million from its original NINT commitment. The Government of Canada invested: $7.6 million from its original $60 million commitment; $3.8 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada for the NINT Innovation Centre; and $796,000 from Natural Resources Canada for energy efficiency innovations.
  • This complex facility was designed and built by Alberta companies. The architects were Cohos Evamy and the construction manager was PCL-Maxam. During the design and construction phases, 210 person years of work were created – including approximately 30 person years for the design work alone.
  • Nanotechnology is defined as the application of science to developing new materials and processes by manipulating molecular and atomic particles. A nanometre is a billionth of a metre, that is, about 1/80,000 of the diameter of a human hair, or 10 times the diameter of a hydrogen atom. The pre-fix nano comes from the Greek word for dwarf 'nanos'
  • A clean room is a special laboratory in which the air is filtered or cleaned to remove dust and other particles. NINT will have several clean rooms including a Class 1000 room, where the circulating air will not contain more than 1000 particles bigger than half a micron in a cubic foot of air.   Air circulating in a normal office setting has roughly 500,000 such particles per cubic foot of air.

For more information, please visit the NRC Web site at, or contact:

Shannon Jones
National Institute for Nanotechnology
National Research Council
Tel: (780) 641-1626

Sarah Mangione
Media Relations, NRC
Tel: (613) 990-6091

Isabelle Fontaine
Office of the Honourable Maxime Bernier
Minister of Industry
Tel: (613) 995-9001

Anne Douglas
Alberta Innovation and Science
Tel.: (780) 422-1562

Sandra Halme
University of Alberta
Tel: (780) 492-0442

Date Published: 2006-06-22
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