Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology

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Executive directorSushanta Mitra, PhD
Managing directorAlain Francq, MBA
AffiliationUniversity of Waterloo
LocationWaterloo, Ontario

The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) is located at the University of Waterloo and is co-located with the Institute for Quantum Computing in the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre (QNC). WIN is headed by Dr. Sushanta Mitra.

The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology comprises 84 faculty from nine different departments in the faculties of Science, Engineering, and Math.

Major research facilities[edit]

The Quantum-Nano centre is the site of a community laboratory for nano-metrology and nano-fabrication. Construction began on 9 June 2008 and is expected to be completed 21 September 2012. The 160 million dollar, 284,000-square-foot (26,400 m2) facility will be the home to a 17,000-square-foot (1,600 m2) laboratory.


Capital funding for construction of the QNC was made possible by major gifts and awards from multiple sources including a 101 million dollar donation from Ophelia and Mike Lazaridis (co-CEO of Research in Motion and Chancellor of the University of Waterloo). Government funding includes 17.9 million dollars from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) which has been matched by the Province of Ontario.[1] In addition, an anonymous donor has provided an endowment of 29 million dollars for 3 endowed chairs and 42 Graduate Nanofellowships.[1]


Giga to Nano Electronics Laboratory[edit]

G2N is a fabrication laboratory that integrates a range of thin-film manufacturing, assembly, testing, and characterization equipment to create electronic systems in the very large (a few billion pixels) and very small (a few nanometres) size range.[2]


WATlab is a nano-materials metrology research facility, equipped with surface and nano-materials research tools for exploring areas of nanotechnology and nano-scale sciences.[3]

Advanced Micro-Nano Lab[edit]

The Advanced Micro-Nano Lab will address the following device technologies.[4]

  1. Micro/Nanoelectromechanical Systems (MEMS/NEMS): micro-optics, electromechanical wireless components, and biomedical & microfluidics devices.
  2. Carbon Nanotube devices, eventually targeting biomedical applications.

Research interests[edit]

Nano-engineered materials[edit]

Research in nano-engineered materials includes many departments and Faculties at Waterloo. Researchers in chemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical and mechatronics engineering, and electrical and computer engineering are collaborating on modeling, design, fabrication, processing, characterization and analysis of nano-scale properties of materials, structures, devices and systems. This development will be further driven by the need to address a critical issue also faced in the integration of nano-scale devices: the interface between nano-structured materials and the macroscopic world.[citation needed]

Nano-engineered materials projects[edit]

  • Development and characterization of ferromagnetic iron-particles as drug delivery vehicles. These particles act like tiny magnets, and can be directed to specific areas of the body by an external magnetic field. These magnetic nanoparticles can also be used to purify enzymes, proteins and to remove organic contaminants from waste water systems.
  • The design, synthesis, characterization, application and fundamental studies of new crystalline metal oxide nano-materials that may be used for next-generation rechargeable batteries.
  • Nano-engineering of polymer electrolyte membranes. Hydrogen fuel cells use these membranes to combine hydrogen and oxygen and produce energy.
  • Development of nano-particles as powerful catalysts for petrochemical refinery applications.
  • Basic and applied research in photonic and photonic band gap crystals for optical and microwave communications.
  • Design, synthesis, fundamental understanding and processing of polymer nano-composites, which are used in several applications for the automotive, aerospace, electronic components and packaging industries.
  • Nanostructured materials for energy storage and conversion
  • Synthesis of electoactive nanomaterials
  • Bulk production of nanomaterials
  • Novel Process
    • CVD, crystallization laser ablation
  • Polymer nanocomposites
  • Nano biomaterials
  • Nano materials for imaging
  • Novel spintronic materials

Nano-electronics design and fabrication[edit]

Developing techniques to integrate NEMS/CMOS (nano electro mechanical systems/complementary metal oxide semiconductor) to develop manipulators with atomic precision in all three dimensions with on-chip control. Example applications include: scanning probe microscopy, atomic force microscopy, nano-materials characterization and atomic resolution imaging with the objective of developing technologies for precision nano-scale assembly and manufacturing.

Nano-fabrication projects[edit]

  • Fundamental and applied research into flexible, transparent electronics; that is, electronics embedded on a mechanically flexible substrate such as plastic, rather than on traditional and brittle ones such as silicon.
  • Experimentation in electron beam lithography, to fabricate nanostructures and nanoelectronic devices, and to determine how the arrangement of molecules affects the chemical properties of substances.
  • Fundamental studies and development of nanocrystalline thin-film semiconductors, devices and circuits for electronics and spintronics.
  • Development and fabrication of micro- and nano-electro mechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS). New devices being researched include NEMS-based metamaterials, miniature signal processing devices, biomedical, diagnostic and image processing devices, tiny wireless components (filters, mixers, antennas), miniature opto-electromechanical devices (optical relays, optical multiplexers, deformable optics), miniature biosensors and environmental sensors, and micro- and nano-fluidics devices.
  • Organic synthesis, characterization and application of molecular organic semiconductor materials for electronic/optoelectronic devices. These materials are uniquely positioned to allow low cost fabrication processes (e.g., printable electronics) and to enable novel applications, such as, flexible and molecular electronics.
  • X-ray detectors
  • Terahertz detectors and sources
  • Imagers
  • Ultrasensitive sensors
  • Spintronic device design and fabrication
  • Nanolithography
  • Nano-joining
  • Direct bandgap nanowires for solar cells
  • Quantum photovoltaic devices
  • Advanced CAD tool development and application to emerging devices and sensors


Techniques to fabricate new instrumentation to characterize critical parameters such as size, composition, stiffness, surface characteristics, dopant concentration, magnetic coercivity, and other properties of particular interest to the nano scale. Due to their small size, nano-systems are extremely challenging to assemble, and yet precise control of their parameters is often critical to their performance. A related goal is to cause a paradigm shift in classical chemical measurements (in which samples are brought to the lab for analysis) by developing wireless, energy-efficient mobile nano-instruments that allow users to bring the lab to the sample. Examples of "the lab" include nano-instruments of all types and two examples of "the sample" include the environment or a patient. The metrology arm of the new labs will be used to study measurements at the nano-scale, to develop new and unique nano-scale measuring instruments, and to calibrate such instruments. It will also address associated challenges involved in fabricating, integrating and packaging instruments at the nano-scale.

Nano-scale metrology projects[edit]

  • Fundamental studies leading to development of theories behind measurements at the nanoscale.
  • Fabrication of instrumentation and development of methodology for micro- and nano-analytical chemistry for measurements of pollutants on site.
  • Using micro as an interface between the nanoscale and the macroscopic, human-scale.
  • Development and characterization of mobile micro- and nano-instruments that are small, cheap and under wireless control.
  • Measurement of how nano-materials grow and form on surfaces.
  • Studies of polymer interfaces, adhesion and confinement of polymer chains glass transition in confined geometries.
  • Characterization and modeling of mechanical behaviour, fatigue properties, toughness and fluid dynamics of advanced materials as dimensions shrink.
  • Nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS)
  • Nanopackaging
  • Nano–micro interface technology
  • Nanofluidic devices
  • Advanced CAD-electromechanical systems
  • Development of novel cooling technologies for nano devices/high-density circuits
  • E-Beam epitaxy
  • Nanosampling techniques
  • Nanometrology


Nano–bio is a field that includes both the use of nanotechnology in biological and agrifood systems and use of biological or biomimetic techniques in nanotechnology. Nanobiotechnology shows a tremendous promise of improving the quality of life. For example, nanovehicles might deliver drugs directly to targeted cells, nanomembranes may be used for development of cheap, effective water purification systems, or nanochips that interface neurons with electronics may become common place. NEMS (nano-electromechanical systems) might use sensors and physical controls to stabilize individuals with heart, kidney or liver disease. As nanotechnology researchers strive to create self-assembling devices, they are beginning to exploit natural self-assemblers: proteins, DNA and viruses. Examples also include development of food quality monitoring sensors and microfluidic biosensor components.Nanoscale imaging of biological systems helps to understand the nanoscale structure–function relationship of materials and in evaluating the food quality–function information. Characterization of nanoscale fragments of biomaterials such as DNA, proteins, chromosomes, plant cells, bacteria, starch granules and anti-allergens are extremely important.

Nano–bio projects[edit]

  • Lab-on-a-chip applications, such as DNA chips and pharmacy-on-a-chip.
  • Creation of nano-vehicles that mimic the way viruses interact with specific cells. This will facilitate the delivery of drugs directly to targeted cells, and could, for instance, eliminate the toxic side-effects of chemotherapy by directing the therapeutic agents to cancer cells only.
  • Development of nanotech methods for therapeutic applications, for example, for replacing faulty DNA or RNA strands with corrected strands.
  • Fundamental and applied research into how certain peptides self-assemble into nano-structures, which will increase understanding of certain neurological diseases, and may subsequently lead to novel treatment methods.
  • Development of polymeric nanostructures from self-assembly block copolymers for delivery of drugs, proteins and DNA.
  • Application of nanotech research into flexible electronics to create low-dose, portable, "wrap-around" x-ray machines.
  • Development of nanotechniques for inactivation of microbes: an efficient and cheap method of food sterilization.
  • Creation of "nanowires" based on a chain-link arrangement of ferritin structures.
  • Interfacing nanochips to biomolecules.
  • Using micro-arrays for high-throughput screening and developing printable arrays.
  • Nanomedicine
  • Gene therapy
  • Polymeric nanostructures
  • Implantable nano-enabled devices
  • Sensors for food quality monitoring[5]


Collaborations and partnerships[edit]

Nanotechnology research at Waterloo has national and international scope through collaboration and partnerships with:


  1. ^ a b University of Waterloo Quantum-Nano Fact Sheet
  2. ^ to Nano Electronics Laboratory
  3. ^ WATLab
  4. ^ Advanced Micro/Nano-Devices Lab
  5. ^ Neethirajan, S., M.S. Freund, C. Shafai, D.S. Jayas and D.J. Thomson. 2009. Development of CO2 sensor for agri-food industry (US Provisional Patent US2009-61/238,91).
  6. ^ Ontario's World-Class Quantum-Nanotechnology Research Centre at the University of Waterloo, Alain Francq, University of Waterloo
  7. ^ The Complete Specturm of Nanotechnology Education, Research, Facilities and Partnerships for a World Class Nanotechnology Centre, Power Point, Alain Francq, University of Waterloo

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°28′17″N 80°32′31″W / 43.4715°N 80.5420°W / 43.4715; -80.5420