Bright Idea: Lakehead University research lab sheds light on innovative technology
It’s all smiles at Lakehead University as funders, researchers and supporters check out a new chemical reactor in the MEAGlow laboratory.
From L-R: FedNor's Mike Belliveau; Steve Demmings, CEO Thunder Bay CEDC; MPP Bill Mauro; Dr. Dimiter Alexandrov, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and MEAGlow partner; and Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
It was an auspicious occasion in June 2011 at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay when representatives of FedNor, the Province of Ontario and the school officially opened a state-of-the-art semiconductor research laboratory. A unique partnership between the public and private sector, the lab at Lakehead built a chemical reactor designed by MEAGlow Ltd., an Ontario-based company, which would help develop new technology to produce brighter light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and more efficient solar panels. The prototype system quickly surpassed expectations and, having proved the patent at commercial scale, the pathway is now open to developing and manufacturing a variety of products for customers all over the world.
The possibilities for developing advanced applications using nitride semiconductors excites Dr. Dimiter Alexandrov, a professor in Lakehead’s Electrical Engineering Department and a MEAGlow project partner. “By using this locally developed technology called migration-enhanced afterglow, our research is working to overcome current limitations, such as a reliance on relatively high temperatures and large flows of gases such as pure ammonia or hydrogen”, he says. “Eliminating these materials will help to lower production costs while new and novel electronic devices can be designed and produced.”
MEAGlow Ltd. has signed a licensing agreement with a company in California to manufacture energy-efficient light-emitting products using MEAGlow technology. The company is also establishing contacts with other industry-specific partners as it expands its commercial capacity. For Lakehead University, it is a golden opportunity to make an impact in both science and industry. “The excellence of research and innovation at Lakehead is showcased once again with the cutting-edge processes involved with the MEAGlow project”, says Dr. Rui Wang, Vice-President of Research. “As well, this project employs young people and offers meaningful opportunities for our students to become engaged in commercialized research.”
FedNor’s contribution of more than $266,000 to purchase specialized equipment for the research laboratory at Lakehead underlines the Government of Canada’s belief that science and technology are vital to stimulating productivity, innovation and economic development. Currently the MEAGlow project employs several engineers and physicists, all under the age of 30. More staff will be added as MEAGlow Ltd. builds custom chemical reactors for specific clients and exports its technology.
“This Canadian technology provides a unique opportunity for a wide spectrum of applications in commercialized research,” says Dr. Alexandrov. “The MEAGlow reactor and Lakehead University’s new PHD programs are putting Thunder Bay on the map as a leader in the fields of semiconductor technology and electronic devices.”
By bringing together business, academia and government to turn innovative ideas into reality, the future looks bright for MEAGlow Ltd. and Lakehead University.
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