Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


U of T lab a Canadian first for environmental science


Technology reveals ’molecular map’ of organic matter

A new facility unveiled today at U of T at Scarborough provides an unprecedented view of the molecular secrets found in organic matter-shedding new light on fields such as climate change, environmental contamination and forensic science.

The Environmental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Centre is the first of its kind in Canada dedicated to research in environmental science. Husband-and-wife researchers Myrna Simpson, a U of T assistant professor of environmental chemistry, and Andre Simpson, a UTSC assistant professor of chemistry and the new facility’s director of NMR research, will supervise activities at the $2.47-million facility. Bruker BioSpin Canada donated the facility’s instrumentation-a gift-in-kind worth $1.57 million-while the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Innovation Trust and U of T each provided $300,000.

The lab’s specially designed instrument (the NMR spectrometer) and innovative technology allows researchers to analyse organic matter-such as that found in soil, water, leaves and air-at the molecular level. Once a sample is analysed, the instrument produces a computerized "molecular map" of the compounds present in the substance. Researchers are compiling a database of compounds that have already been analysed to ease subsequent identification of samples.

"Any research is limited by the quality of the research tools," says Myrna Simpson. "By having access to this unbelievable instrumentation, we’re going to be able to make leaps and bounds in our understanding of environmental processes. We’ll be able to solve a lot of fundamental problems." The instrument can also be used to scan a sample on multiple occasions over a period of time, providing a "time-lapse" glimpse of decomposition, she adds.

Professor Kwong-loi Shun, vice-president and principal of UTSC, says the Environmental NMR centre will allow UTSC to make dramatic strides as a leading centre for environmental research in Canada and around the world. "It is wonderful to see excellence in teaching, learning and research thriving here at UTSC," says Shun. The NMR facility is already attracting collaborators, including other Canadian scientists.

Installation of the NMR spectrometer began in October 2003 and was completed in March with the assistance of one of Bruker BioSpin’s engineers who travelled from Germany to help with assembly of the technology.

"Bruker BioSpin is very proud to support the innovative research programs of Professors Andre and Myrna Simpson," says Dr. Henry Stronks, executive vice-president of Bruker BioSpin Canada. "University-based research will play a critical role as Canada continues to move toward a knowledge-based economy and Bruker BioSpin is excited to be a partner with the University of Toronto and Andre and Myrna Simpson as we work together to pioneer new magnetic resonance methodologies for the analysis of soil and organic matter. Congratulations to the University of Toronto and everyone involved for helping to make this world class laboratory a reality."

"Today’s opening of the Environmental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Centre is a powerful example of what can be achieved through partnerships," says Carmen Charette, interim president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. "The investment we are celebrating today will strengthen Canada’s capacity to effectively compete locally, nationally and internationally in this important area of research."

Nicolle Wahl | U of T
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>