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New ‘beams’ to benefit materials research

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Paul Percival, 604.291.4477;
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 604.291.4323

November 29, 2006

Canadian and international research teams involved in molecular and materials research at Vancouver's TRIUMF accelerator facility will soon benefit from a new Simon Fraser University-led project.

A research team headed by SFU chemist Paul Percival has developed a proposal to build a new muon beam line at TRIUMF. The Canadian Foundation for Innovation, through its New Initiatives fund, is committing $2.4 million towards the project, which is supported by 16 Canadian universities.

Muons are subatomic particles that can be used to probe extremely small, local magnetic fields of electronic or nuclear origin, in any form of matter.

Existing muon beam lines at TRIUMF are outdated and no longer meet the needs of researchers. “This upgrade will help to capture the full scientific potential of the muon as a probe,” says Percival. “It will satisfy the increasing demands of the users, both in availablity and quality of muon beams.”

Modern tools for investigating the properties of materials often require complex infrastructure only available at national laboratories such as TRIUMF, adds Percival.

Improving our understanding of the science that underlies the properties of materials is essential to the development of new materials, he notes.

TRIUMF is managed by a consortium of Canadian universities. The only other site in the world that has a comparable advanced muon spin spectroscopy infrastructure is the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland.