Sept. 14, 2021

New Dynamic Imaging Lab opens on campus for interdisciplinary research and innovation

One-of-a kind facility helps researchers see how materials change over time; information session on Sept. 16

A new research facility has opened on campus at University Research Centre, providing unique capabilities for researchers and innovators at this one-of-a-kind laboratory. The 3,600-square-foot Dynamic Imaging Lab (DIL), located in the basement of University Research Centre in Research Park, is now home to new imaging equipment that will provide users with the ability to add a new dimension to viewing samples: time.

Previous imaging capabilities provided researchers with a glimpse at static imagery. As materials science advances, the ability to view materials at microscales and different interfaces through time informs researchers how those materials change. Since most energy processes occur in materials or at interfaces or both through time, this information will advance innovations in respect to energy storage, transportation and end use. The approach in the DIL is to increase temporal resolution like image flow or reactive processes where we look at changes of density or atomic number with time.

Ian Gates

Ian Gates

Glean insights into energy phenomena

“Leadership in energy research at the University of Calgary is well established. The DIL opens a new chapter on how we can see energy phenomena not only at small scale but also now, through time,” says Dr. Ian Gates, director, Global Research Institute.

“This will yield new insights, innovations, inventions, and directions for energy materials research, not only serving fossil fuel but also clean energy technology development. The DIL welcomes both academic and industry partners, and we are eager to make this space part of the innovation ecosystem in Calgary, Alberta, and beyond.”

The DIL represents an overall investment of $5.1M from the Global Research Initiative (GRI) in Sustainable Low Carbon Unconventional Resources, the University of Calgary’s $75M Canada First Research Excellence Fund program, the NSERC Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs (CERC), and the Office of the Vice-President (Research).

The lab is uniquely operated by two in-house senior technicians, Chris Debuhr and Petro Babak, who offer a full-service experience, bringing extensive knowledge and expertise, supporting the equipment, and experiments conducted by researchers.

Equipment features

The DIL houses equipment, some of which is unique both in academia and Western Canada, including:

  • 1 - 4 Slice CT Scanner; 2 - 64 Slice CT scanners, which allow 3D image volumes to be acquired in 1 to 10 s whereas conventional CT require 100 to 1000 s.
  • 1- Ultra-fast scanner, allowing for CT images 3D volumes in 0.01 to 1 s, allowing creation of a real-time movie of in-situ processes such as multiphase flow through porous materials.
  • Scanning electron microscope (SEM) with flowcell capability. Cryo-SEM is also available.
  • Coming soon: Transmission electron microscope (TEM), which will allow for imaging of details as small as individual atoms. The TEM is anticipated to be available in 2022/2023. In-situ flow cells are also available for TEM and will be acquired once the TEM is online.
Steven Bryant

Steven Bryant

Eye toward innovations, inventions and ventures

Canada Excellence Research Chair Dr. Steven Bryant is confident in the impact the DIL will have on UCalgary’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem. “The capabilities coming from DIL will bring new insights from observing fundamental processes in energy materials that can lead to new approaches or technologies for increasing efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of those processes,” says Bryant.

“From this, new innovations, inventions and ventures could spring, meanwhile existing startups could have access to this capability, improving the effectiveness of the device, material or process they are trying to commercialize.”

“The DIL and its abilities will open doors to greater transdisciplinary research linking both technical, social sciences, regulatory/legal, and other disciplines,” explains Gates. “For example, viewing energy processes at multiple spatial and temporal scales will increase field scale-up, enabling more analysis of the social and legal impacts at commercial operation levels.”

If you want to learn more about this innovative space and its capabilities, you are invited to attend the Sept. 16 Dynamic Imaging Lab Information Session.