We are proud to share that 4 researchers at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) were finalists in the Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year 2020 awards.
In 10 categories, ranging from life sciences to science in the arts, outstanding research projects were honoured on November 9, the day the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. The global jury chose the science breakthroughs of the year from 940 research projects that were nominated by academic institutions from 111 countries.
With world-renowned expertise in global warming, health, online learning technology, quantum lasers, and astronomy, NRC finalists Drs. Zhenguo Lu, Stephen Downes, Chun Fang Shen and Benjamin Gerard are tackling the biggest challenges of our times.
After a decade of research into laser technology, Dr. Lu and his project team's laser breakthrough is a single source that simultaneously emits multiple wavelengths, up to 100, each with unparalleled spectral purity, effectively a frequency-comb source. This will vastly improve fixed wireless access for rural communities and optical satellite communication for the truly remote. This technological capacity leads to a more competitive and sustainable information-based economy, can reduce the divide between urban and remote communities, and between affluent and developing countries.
A world-renowned specialist in online learning technology and new media, Stephen Downes and his team have developed the E-Learning 3.0’s online learning program. This tool has led to a wider understanding of the role of distributed consensus in learning, ethical issues in learning analytics, and the role of community and creativity in learning experience platforms.
Cell cultures, such as Vero cells, are increasingly used as a source to produce vaccines against viral infections. Dr. Shen and his team have developed a breakthrough Vero cell culture technology that adapts the cells to grow in suspension. This technology can be used to simplify the vaccine production process and reduce the production cost. This breakthrough will have a long-term impact and could contribute to making vaccines more affordable worldwide.
During his time at the NRC, Dr. Gerard developed an innovative coronograph mask technology, which makes it possible to block the light from stars, in order to study their surrounding planets. This technology is up to 100 times more sensitive than current instruments, which could enable researchers to detect Earth-like planets outside our Solar System in the future, and help advance our search for planets that might harbour life.