UBC positioned as global leader in quantum materials research with $66.5-million federal government investment

Quantum Matter Institute Director Andrea Damascelli

Quantum Matter Institute Director Andrea Damascelli. Credit: NSERC


July 30, 2015

A $66.5-million investment from the Government of Canada—the largest government investment in a single UBC research program—will enhance UBC’s standing as a global leader in quantum matter research and help connect university research with industry.

UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute (QMI), the recipient of the $66.5-million investment over seven years from the new Canada First Research Excellence Fund, is a world-class centre of excellence in quantum research. This investment builds on past government support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Excellence Research Chair and Canada Research Chair programs, Western Economic Diversification and the BC Knowledge Development Fund.

UBC is one of only five recipients selected through a highly competitive process that, together, received a total of almost $350 million in the inaugural round of funding. The funding program was created to propel Canada’s top performing institutions and research centres onto the world stage.

“We are thrilled with the federal government’s vision to invest $66.5 million to help establish UBC as a global centre for high-tech quantum materials research,” said UBC President Arvind Gupta. “The groundbreaking scientific discoveries in this field have the potential to create practical applications that could spur new industries and employment here and abroad and provide significant public benefits in areas like health and the environment.”

Quantum physics is the study of the unusual behaviour of matter and energy at the atomic level, where the laws of classical physics do not apply. Quantum effects are more apparent under extreme conditions such as low temperatures, but can be enhanced and harnessed in quantum materials— systems with astonishing electronic and magnetic properties that hold tremendous potential for future technological applications. Discoveries in this field are expected to lead to a revolution in computing, electronics, medicine and sustainable energy technologies.

“UBC’s quantum matter community is extremely excited about today’s funding announcement,” said Andrea Damascelli, QMI director. “Support from Canada First Research Excellence Fund will propel our Quantum Matter Institute to the very forefront of the field internationally. By enabling us to fully exploit our institute’s state-of-the-art infrastructure and further strengthen our international partnerships, especially with the Max Planck Society of Germany, this funding program will advance Canada’s position as a global leader in quantum materials and future technologies.”

QMI is also home to the Max Planck-UBC Centre for Quantum Materials, which fosters collaborations with 10 Max Planck institutes. This is the third international centre ever established outside Germany by the prestigious Max Planck Society, and the only one fully dedicated to quantum materials research.

“The relationship between UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute and the Max Planck Society, Germany’s premier institution for fundamental research, shows how the exchange of ideas and cooperation across borders can lead to important discoveries in the emerging field of quantum materials,” said Bernhard Keimer, director of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research. “With this funding, we look forward to creating more joint research activities, expanding opportunities for students and young scientists, and producing extraordinary scientific results together.”

UBC, under the leadership of former president Stephen Toope, played a key role in the creation of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund working with other universities and in partnership with the federal government. UBC would like to congratulate the research team, faculty and staff involved in the funding application on their success.

VIDEO: Dr. Andrea Damascelli is generating new knowledge about quantum materials and their exciting potential