media release

SFU receives $4.3-million for soft-materials research

December 18, 2013

Byron Gates, SFU Chemistry, 778.782.8066;
Melanie Monk, SFU VP Research, 778.782.7058;
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017;

WD release:

A new Centre for Soft Materials for Simon Fraser University’s 4D LABS facility will be established with a federal government investment of more than $4.3 million. The Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, made the announcement today at SFU.

The Western Economic Diversification Canada support will enhance SFU’s research infrastructure by creating an applications-driven research institute for the design, development, demonstration and delivery of advanced functional materials and nanoscale devices aimed at soft materials.

The Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC) is contributing an additional $1.9 million to the project and funding is being further matched by $2.4 million from SFU.

The suite of sophisticated equipment includes two electron microscopes. These will allow local companies and innovators from a variety of sectors to more accurately visualize and analyze their advanced soft materials, while preserving nano-scale features within these materials.

These capabilities are critical to understanding and improving the performance of soft materials in real-world conditions, while also enabling a detailed understanding of new materials and products that will greatly reduce their time to market.

The Centre will also provide students with hands-on training and use of advanced microscopy and complementary tooling that was previously unavailable in Canada.

AFCC Chief Financial Officer Tim Bovich says the partnership “sets an example of how cooperation among government, industry and academia can promote Canada, and British Columbia in particular, as the premier location for fuel cell stack producers and their many suppliers.” These technologies will also be accessible to many other sectors, including lighting, information technology, medicine, measurement and controls, electronics, clean energy, and security.

“Through this investment from the Government of Canada, and SFU’s ongoing partnership with the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation, 4D LABS is now able to expand its capabilities. We can enable a more accurate nano-scale visualization and chemical analysis of a diverse range of soft materials, that include biological tissues, composites and membranes, whose function depends on the distribution of water, polymers, and other matrices within the material,” says SFU Chemistry Associate Professor Byron Gates, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Surface Chemistry.

“Academic, industrial and government researchers across Western Canada will benefit from the addition of this Centre, which will facilitate further product innovation and economic development in the region.”

SFU Vice-President, Research Mario Pinto adds: “Thanks to its support, the Government of Canada is helping to establish SFU as a leader in material sciences and engineering research, in turn, raising Canada’s global reputation in this sector.

“There is perhaps no other area of research that is as collaborative and vast in scope, and with such potential to drive the advancement of products and industries that benefit our everyday lives.”

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada’s top comprehensive universities­. Among the world’s top universities under 50 years of age, SFU is currently ranked #2 in Canada, #3 in North America and #30 in the world (QS) and #3 in Canada, #7 in North America and 26th in the world (Times Higher Education). With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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