Material scientists from UBC’s Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (Blusson QMI) will lead the development of a world-class crystal growth facility thanks to $5.8 million in investments by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) announced today.

Blusson QMI Scientific Director Andrea Damascelli said the investment will strengthen Canada’s position as a leader in quantum research and technology.

“The funding enables the establishment of state-of-the-art research infrastructure that is unique in Canada and will deliver exceptional impact for quantum material design, technology development, and training of the quantum workforce,” said Damascelli.

Led by Blusson QMI Investigators Alannah Hallas and Doug Bonn, the new facility represents a total investment of $7.3 million and will incorporate specialized apparatus designed for high-pressure synthesis.

Image: Alannah Hallas, Investigator, UBC Blusson QMI.

“Just as the silicon age launched multiple trillion-dollar industries, the age of quantum materials is likely to foster intense economic development,” said Hallas.

“The new facility will accelerate this search by enabling us to synthesize quantum materials that have remained out of reach in the high-quality single crystal form that is needed to characterize them and ultimately fashion them into technological devices.”

To tune the formation and structure of new materials, scientists typically use methods that involve varying the temperature or the material’s chemical composition but can rarely significantly increase the pressure.

“Adding pressure as a third tuning parameter during synthesis will vastly expand the frontier across which we can discover novel quantum materials. At elevated pressures, materials can often form into new stable phases that are not accessible at lower pressures,” Hallas said. “A good example of this are diamonds that are formed as a result of squeezing carbon under extreme pressure and high heat.”

The new facility complements the characterization tools and theoretical expertise that already exist at UBC’s Blusson QMI, unlocking an end-to-end scientific workflow from the design and synthesis of new quantum materials to the elucidation of their properties and engineering prototype devices.

Under the direction of Hallas and Bonn, the lab incorporates five new material synthesis furnaces that will position researchers at UBC Blusson QMI and Canada at the forefront of realizing the technological promises of quantum materials.

Three of the five furnaces in the facility will be the first of their kind in the country, including Canada’s first high pressure floating zone furnace. Another high pressure furnace in the facility, known as an anvil press, will be, for the first time, dedicated to quantum materials discovery rather than geoscience.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne congratulated the researchers receiving funding to take their projects to the next level.

“Their pioneering research will further establish Canada’s position as a global leader in innovation while helping to drive our economy and achieve our shared vision of a brighter, healthier future for all Canadians,” said Minister Champagne.

The CFI Innovation Fund provides continued investments in infrastructure across the full spectrum of research, from the most fundamental to applied through to technology development. By investing in research infrastructure projects through the BCKDF, the B.C. government is continuing to support post-secondary institutions by improving productivity and competitiveness, and to move toward an innovative, sustainable and inclusive future.

Projects funded through the Innovation Fund and the BCKDF will help Canada and British Columbia remain at the forefront of exploration and knowledge generation while making meaningful contributions to generating social, health, environmental and economic benefits and addressing global challenges.


Media: Shahrzad (Zad) Abbasi | 604.360.6761 |