Recent Quebec-Japan research agreement already bearing fruit

Published: 13 October 2010

McGill University and RIKEN of Japan collaborate in nanotechnology, green chemistry

Thirty leading nanotechnology and green chemistry researchers from both sides of the Pacific recently met at Mont-Tremblant, Qué. to share their cutting-edge knowledge, thanks to an agreement that was signed this summer by Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University and Ryoji Noyori, President of RIKEN of Japan (Institute of Physical and Chemical Research). “RIKEN and McGill are both recognized as innovators in these key fields,” Munroe-Blum said. “I am pleased that we are already seeing fruitful collaboration between researchers, just a few short weeks after the agreement was signed. This represents the first outcome of the many that I foresee in the very bright future of our partnership.”

McGill’s colleagues in Japan agree. “We at RIKEN are particularly pleased with the expansion of our relationship with McGill University,” said RIKEN’s Executive Director, Yoshiharu Doi. “RIKEN and McGill have previously collaborated in the areas of brain science and developmental biology. At the recent September workshop there was fruitful discussion on the possibilities for collaboration in nanotechnology and green chemistry. We hope our partnership in these areas will lead to results that will make significant contribution to resolving pressing global issues and pave the way for a sustainable society.”

Dr. Guillaume Gervais is a professor of physics whose laboratory is making important contributions to the development of new nanoscale semi-conductors. He took part in the Tremblant workshop and was thrilled to develop new relationships with McGill’s overseas partners. He feels strongly about the importance of nanotechnology. “It’s a booming field as evidenced by the various nanotechnology institutes created all over the world in the last ten years, as well as the 2010 physics Nobel prize granted to graphene this  week,” he said, speaking from France. “As nanoscience and nanotechnology are diverse and inter-disciplinary in nature, collaborations amongst scientists and engineers are essential for advancing our knowledge. The recent RIKEN-McGill meeting embodies this kind of partnership and our shared vision of changing people’s lives through research. The passion for research has indeed no border, it’s all about sharing the same dream of moving technology forward one ‘nano-step’ at a time."

The research agreement was originally signed July 15, 2010. It covers a wide range of areas where nanotechnology and green chemistry [which rethinks chemistry along environmental lines] can be applied, such as catalysis, the investigation of polymers, the characterization of materials, the advancement of environmental chemistry, and the investigation of biological processes. The researchers are also looking at nanophotonics (materials that are sensitive to light), nanoelectronics, and nanodevices. The workshop held at Mont-Tremblant received financial support from the Going Global Innovation program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. The researchers are already planning their next meeting, which will take place in Japan in early spring 2011.

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