Ideation Fund: New Beginnings


2019 projects

This initiative invites individual NRC researchers and technical officers to pursue self-directed research projects. These one-year projects explore ideas and advance new technologies, and provide opportunities to collaborate with other research organizations.

New projects are selected and funded each year.

Round 2 selected projects
NRC Researcher Project title Description Research centre Collaborator (where applicable)
Guy Austing Emerging p-type group IV heterostructures for scalable quantum technologies This project sets out to determine the design of new optically active group IV semiconductor quantum materials. The proposed research seeks to establish the foundation of future quantum devices exploiting hole spin-photon interface in a platform compatible with processing standards of the semiconductor industry. Security and Disruptive Technologies Corporation de l'École Polytechnique de Montréal
Adilah Bahadoor A metrological approach to decipher the virulence mechanisms of host-specific Fusarium phytotoxins in cereals The crop pathogen Fusarium graminearum presents a constant threat to cereal crops worldwide. Canadian grain farmers continue to face steep losses from F. graminearum outbreaks. The NRC and Agriculture Canada are teaming up to elucidate the tailored infection strategies that the pathogen deploys in the presence of specific plant hosts. Metrology  
Fabrice Bernier Magnetization strategies for 3D permanent magnets Complex shaped permanent magnets have been recently built by additive manufacturing. To maximize their benefits, 3D magnets need to be locally magnetized with a precise orientation. This proposal, in collaboration with Polytechnique Montreal, targets the development of in-situ and ex-situ magnetization strategies for permanent magnets of arbitrary shape. Automotive and Surface Transportation Corporation de l'École Polytechnique de Montréal
Scott Buffett Conditional high utility pattern mining for cyber attack detection Detecting and identifying malicious activity occurring on a network of host machines can be extremely difficult in scenarios where attackers move laterally from host to host. This project will utilize and develop novel techniques in machine learning and pattern analysis to identify potentially concerning behaviour that can only be discovered when recognized as part of a larger pattern of activity. Digital Technologies The University of New Brunswick
Edward Chapin InfraRed on‑detector guide windows for adaptive optics in the era of Extremely large Telescopes On‑Detector Guide Windows detect small instrumental motions that blur astronomical images by rapidly imaging reference stars with a subsection of the main camera. We will prototype this hitherto unproven technology for use by the adaptive optics systems of next generation Extremely Large Telescopes to produce the sharpest images possible. Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics The Governing Council of the University of Toronto
Ross Cheriton Integrated photonic remote spectroscopic mapping on autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle swarms for rapid wide-area terrestrial surveying This project focused on developing sensitive millimeter-scale light‑processing chips as low cost sensors for self-organized arrays of drones and satellites. These ultra‑lightweight, low power, and compact photonic chips can enable real‑time, large‑area spectral mapping for environmental, mining, agriculture and astronomy applications at wavelengths beyond what our eyes can see. Advanced Electronics and Photonics University of Ottawa
Miroslava Cuperlovic-Culf Development of a detailed computational kinetic model of glutathione metabolism Glutathione is found in most cells and tissues with an extremely important role in protecting healthy as well as cancer cells against toxic injury. Our goal is to create a predictable model of glutathione metabolism in healthy cells and cancer cells in order to provide better understanding of its role in disease progression. Digital Technologies University of Ottawa
Sebastien Fabbro Cosmological distance with machine learning Cosmological distances are key measurements to explore dark energy and challenge gravity theories at large scale. This project aims to use multi-wavelength archived images of very faint galaxies to determine distances using weakly supervised machine learning methods. Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics University of Victoria
Canada France Hawaii Telescope Corporation
Ecole des Ponts Paris Tech
Marina Gertsvolf VUV Frequency combs Our goal is to develop a TiN nano‑plasmonic enhanced solid state sources of HHG that will operate using standard 1.5 um fibre combs. This will generate VUV combs with MHz to GHz repetition rates, creating the technology for compact photoelectron spectroscopy and the clock-work for nuclear transition atomic frequency standards. Metrology University of Ottawa
Charles Greer An improved bio-inorganic system to couple solar energy to microbial carbon dioxide fixation Threatening atmospheric CO2 concentrations and growing energy demands are among the greatest challenges of our age. We aim to develop a solution combining the light-harvesting capabilities of semiconductors with the catalytic power of biology to covert CO2 and solar energy into valuable products, such as liquid fuels and pharmaceutical precursors. Energy, Mining and Environment The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University
Anant Grewal A new approach towards stability analysis of laminar-turbulent transition flow This project strives to develop new analytical tools for predicting the onset of transition of laminar to turbulent fluid flow through the application of mathematical tools available in the modern analysis branch of mathematics, namely the theory of self-duality of partial differential equations, in this specific instance, the Navier-Stokes equations. Aerospace Carleton University
Usha Hemraz Stimuli-responsive materials for encapsulating microbes and nucleic acids for sustainable agriculture This proposal provides a sustainable way to protect plants against harmful pests and promote growth by encapsulating RNA and beneficial bacteria in stimuli‑responsive capsules. When triggered, these capsules would release the RNA and bacteria simultaneously to the plant environment so that they can act as a biopesticide and biofertilizer, respectively. Aquatic and Crop Resource Development  
Kevin Henry A novel class of holocephalin heavy chain‑only antibodies Antibodies from unconventional model organisms can have different properties and explore distinct epitope space on target antigens. This project will explore a novel class of heavy chain-only antibodies present in holocephalin fish (chimaeras). The genetics, structures and functions of these antibodies may inform development of biologic drugs with unique properties. Human Health Therapeutics California State University
Siegfried Janz Couplers for free‑space interrogation of silicon nano‑photonic sensors This project will develop grating couplers that enable silicon photonic thermometers and sensors to be read remotely using free space light beams, with no need for physical contact with the chip. This eliminates the fragile assembly and adhesives involved in attaching optical fibre or wires to a photonic chip. Advanced Electronics and Photonics Université Laval
Awantha Jayasiri Real‑time landing zone identification and object detection using a hardware accelerated deep learning module

Timely detection of landing zones (LZ) and obstacles facilitates the safe, reliable and quick landing of vertical take-off and landing vehicles.

Outcome of this project will be a novel multi‑sensor based perception module, powered by deep learning and implemented in a dedicated processor to facilitate the real‑time implementation. This can be served as a part of a pilot-assisted system for selecting potential LZs autonomously.

Aerospace Memorial University of Newfoundland
Oleksandr Kobryn Interfacial properties and electronic applications of surface‑modified cellulose nanocrystals Cellulose is the world's most abundant biopolymer. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) are cylindrical, crystalline high aspect ratio nanowires obtained from natural products such as wood pulp, cotton, tunicate, etc. and are products of Canada's forestry sector. We shall examine organic dye‑functionalized CNCs for electronic applications and to catalyze/photocatalyze important industrial reactions. Nanotechnology The Governors of the University of Alberta
Marianna Kulka Intense terahertze pulses modulate RAS signaling in human skin cells Terahertz (THz) pulses are picosecond pulses of electromagnetic radiation that efficiently couple to oscillatory dynamics of large biomolecules. This project will measure changes in signaling pathways and cell membrane dynamics after exposure to THz and assess the capabilities/limitations of novel THz biomedical applications. Nanotechnology The Governors of the University of Alberta
François Lapointe Artificial synapses for printable electronics The human brain is an energy‑efficient analog computing system, and replication of the brain's neural structure may lead to efficient parallel computation and adaptive learning. We will create artificial synapses using printing techniques and nanomaterials inks with the objective to create low‑cost, low‑power, hardware‑based artificial neural networks. Security and Disruptive Technologies Université de Montréal
Anne Lenferink Towards a new integral (physiological / metabolic / biochemical / molecular) paradigm for the generation of anti‑cancer therapeutics: breaking through a cancer cell's defense by targeting hypoxia and acidosis. Although genetically different, the relatively uniform phenotype of tumors suggests some degree of physiological similarities that are likely to be involved in driving their progression. The microenvironment of most solid tumors, which is characterized by low oxygen and low pH, often limits anti‑cancer therapy efficacy. This project aims at generating a therapeutic that will take advantage of the specific characteristics of the tumor microenvironment. Human Health Therapeutics BC Cancer, part of the Provincial Health Services Authority
Ying Li 3D bioprinting of a human based blood brain barrier model The objective of this project is to develop a highly innovative 3D human in vitro BBB screening platform that integrates human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), synthetic biomaterials and microfluidic technology with state‑of‑the‑art 3D bioprinting capabilities to model the complexity of the neurovascular unit. Human Health Therapeutics University of Ottawa
The Governing Council of the University of Toronto
Xiangyang Liu Improving stretchable electronics through in situ photo polymerization of elastomers This project proposes to generate silver conductors with enhanced stretchability using a novel approach to incorporating elastomeric material into the molecular ink formulations for in‑mold electronics and e‑textiles or wearable electronics, which provides excellent opportunity for the success of development of new generation silver conductive inks for printed electronic applications. Security and Disruptive Technologies Université de Montréal
Michele Loewen Synthetic Biology‑Enabled Engineering of Efficient Industrial Biocatalysts Genetic code expansion approaches will be applied to develop an industrial biocatalyst for the sustainable, value‑added, removal of anti-nutritionals from pulse meal. This project will support two new external partnerships, and place NRC's foot firmly within this emerging cornerstone of synthetic biology for broader applications across multiple Canadian industries. Aquatic and Crop Resource Development University of Ottawa
Liang Ma Machine learning for prediction of water pollution from mine wastes The goal of this project is to develop Machine Learning algorithms and tools for processing the huge amount of monitoring data collected in the field to predict water pollution from mine waste storages. The outcome will help industry and regulators to make informed decisions to reduce liability, reduce cost for managing mine wastes, and improve competitiveness. Energy, Mining and Environment The University of British Columbia
Jeffrey Mahn Promoting tranquil and resilient living environments for an aging population This project involves a collaboration between the NRC and researchers in Japan to investigate annoyance due to impact noise in dwellings (the sound of neighbors walking or dropping things on the floor) to support Code changes to better protect people in general, and aging populations in particular, from unwanted noise. Construction  
Lidija Malic One step multiplex aptamer selection and validation using magnetic nanoparticle aptamer library (aptaMAG) coupled to microfluidic surface plasmon resonance imaging biosensor A novel non-SELEX approach for aptamer discovery is proposed that couples surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRi) with microfluidics technology and magnetic nanoparticle aptamer library (aptaMAG) for multiplex, one-step aptamer selection and validation. The proposed technology has the potential to select high affinity aptamers while significantly decreasing assay time and cost. Medical Devices The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University
Yadienka Martinez-Rubi Improving the performance of dynamic colour‑changing materials using new heat dissipating materials – towards building smarter cities Photochromic smart windows have the potential to reduce energy consumption in buildings and vehicles while maintaining indoor comfort but their performance can be limited by heating due to solar radiation. We will address this limitation by developing novel transparent coatings based upon the interactions of boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) with photochromic molecules. Security and Disruptive Technologies Simon Fraser University
Luke Masson Recombinant expression of difficult-to-produce proteins Our project tricks E. coli into expressing 'difficult-to-produce' recombinant proteins by fusing an affinity tag and specific small proteins onto unstable proteins to mask their identity and enhance their expression while facilitating their purification. The protein of interest is cleanly separated from the fused part by a novel bacterial protease. Human Health Therapeutics  
Jorg Oberste-Berghaus Feasibility for additive manufacturing of near‑net‑shape Ti‑6Al‑4V components using miniaturized HVOF, warm‑spray and HVAF thermal spraying This project aims to develop and demonstrate feasibility of emerging miniaturized combustion‑based spray technology for high resolution deposition of Ti‑6Al‑4V with near bulk properties in terms of strength and elongation to failure. This technology can provide a step‑change in the restoration of engine components in the aerospace and power generation sectors. Automotive and Surface Transportation SprayWerx Technologies Inc.
Concordia University
Antoine Pagé Core microbes for field pea farming Some plant-associated microorganisms can recruit or exclude additional microbes based on the latter's functions. This project aims to identify and culture microbes that may use this ability to shape environments in which field pea inoculants perform well. These 'core microbes' could help us improve the sustainability of our domestic agriculture. Aquatic and Crop Resource Development The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University
Chantal Paquet 3D Printed hierarchical structures with enhanced mechanical properties Architectured materials are desirable as high impact, lightweight composites in aerospace, automotive and armor applications owing to their remarkable properties, such as high strength and toughness. This project explores synthetic strategies for generating self-assembled, bio-inspired multiphase materials with enhanced mechanical properties using 3D printed vat polymerization techniques. Security and Disruptive Technologies  
Maxime Rivard Fabrication of achromatic 90° and 120° optical fiber coupler hybrids To eliminate an artifact in their measurements and to double their sensing range, Optical Coherence Tomography imaging systems must measure the complex interferogram with high phase accuracy. Through the development and use of a novel 4x4 optical fiber coupler, this project will bring an original solution to this problem. Energy, Mining and Environment Corporation de l'École Polytechnique de Montréal
Julien Robitaille Implementation of single cell dielectrophoresis as a tool for bioprocess optimization By monitoring the dielectric properties of the cells during a cultivation using a novel single-cell dielectrophoresis (DEP) cytometer, we are able to detect early signs of nutrient starvation. The goal is to use this information in real time to optimize nutrient feeding of mammalian cell culture processes used for the production of therapeutic recombinant proteins. Human Health Therapeutics University of Manitoba
Jens Schmid Subwavelength integrated nanophotonics in silicon nitride for on-chip light amplification, quantum communications and sensing Silicon nitride is emerging as an important integrated photonics platform with applications in communications, sensing, quantum photonics and nonlinear optics. In this project we aim to demonstrate for the first time subwavelength metamaterial engineering in silicon nitride waveguides to achieve large improvements in light coupling efficiency and on‑chip optical amplification. Advanced Electronics and Photonics McMaster University
Michael Schuurman Discerning mechanisms of light harvesting via quantum dynamics and X‑ray spectroscopy Revolutionary new imaging techniques using femtosecond X‑ray light pulses are ideally suited to probing the dynamics of light harvesting and offer atom‑specific probes of the ultrafast dynamics critical to understanding charge transfer. We propose to apply these methods to study energy capture by molecules and materials. Security and Disruptive Technologies University of Ottawa
Mohammad Shafiee Advanced self-healing Asphalt for roads of the future Canadian road infrastructure, now more than ever, faces increased risks of failure associated with the potential impacts of extreme heat events, increased traffic loading and aging. In light of these challenges, researchers are exploring how to reshape the roads by creating high-performance and self-healing asphalt using nanomaterials. Construction The Governors of the University of Alberta
Chaojie Song Room temperature, ambient pressure synthesis of urea by co-electrolysis of CO2 and N2 using advances in fuel cell technology The project aims to develop an electrochemical synthesis process of urea directly from CO2, N2 and H2 at room temperature and ambient pressure. Proof of concept on electrochemical synthesis of urea using fuel cells will be tested, and suitable electrocatalysts will be developed to achieve high yield with high efficiency. Energy, Mining and Environment Memorial University of Newfoundland
Naiheng Song Durable icephobic coatings with self-stratified surfaces for autonomous aerial mobility To address the urgent needs of passive ice protection technologies for small and light aircraft where heavy and complex active ice protection systems are not applicable, this project explores innovative coating materials with self‑stratified non‑freezing surfaces. Aerospace  
Andrew Todd Temperature measurement using single electron transistors The objective is to determine whether single electron transistors fabricated using a new technique based on atomic silicon dangling bonds can be used to realize a coulomb blockade thermometer that can operate at temperatures higher than has been demonstrated before. If successful, this could enable a new type of primary thermometric method that could be used to realize thermodynamic temperature. This technique also has the potential to become a practical primary temperature measurement device. Because of its small size and being constructed in silicon, a device such as this could be deployed in many places where temperatures measurements are made and not need calibration or recalibration. Metrology The Governors of the University of Alberta
Susan Twine Exploiting collateral sensitivity to win the war against antimicrobial resistance Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing challenge in the treatment of infectious disease, expected to result in 10 million deaths per year by 2050. This research will investigate how resistance to some antibiotics can result in sensitivity to unrelated antimicrobials and how this can be leveraged for improved antibiotic stewardship. Human Health Therapeutics Carleton University
Simon Fraser University
Sowmya Vajjala Automated modeling of spoken language for language proficiency testing Thousands of people take English and French spoken language proficiency tests from the Canadian Public Service Commission annually. Conducting and manually evaluating them involves a large amount of Canadian tax payers money. This project will do a feasibility study to develop a spoken language proficiency assessment system for Canadian French. Digital Technologies  
Sheng-Hui Wang Exploratory study of cost‑effective wire‑arc additive manufacturing for mining applications A robotic welding system integrated with an advanced gas metal arc welding technology (i.e., cold metal transfer process) will be engaged to explore the feasibility of additively manufacturing ultra‑wear‑resistant components. The outcomes of this project could shed some light upon the potential employment of wire-arc additive manufacturing for mining applications. Energy, Mining and Environment The University of British Columbia
Zhong Xie From Li Ion Battery (LIB) degradation to spent LIB recycling The widespread use of lithium ion batteries (LIBs) has produced a large number of spent LIBs. This proposal will explore a new idea by enhancing the degradation of LIBs for recovering valuable metals from spent LIBs. The novel approach could change the landscape of spent LIB recycling. Energy, Mining and Environment  
Sangsig Yun Optimized configuration of metal energy carrier for renewable energy sources Metals such as aluminum and iron can be an ideal energy carrier for clean, but intermittent renewable energy sources. They are recyclable, abundant, cheap, safe to store and transport with high energy density. This project aims to optimize the configuration of such metal fuels for clean and efficient combustion. Aerospace The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University
Shan Zou Nanocarrier mediated anti‑CD47 siRNA delivery A new anti‑cancer therapy using novel formulations of siRNA encapsulated nanocarriers will be created to knock down the "don't eat me" surface marker CD47 that is over‑expressed on most of cancer cells and tumors. Metrology The Governing Council of the University of Toronto