Emerging materials and processes: design and development

Our lives are surrounded by materials.

The focus of the research in materials at uOttawa Engineering ranges from the very small (nanomaterials) to the very large (construction and building materials). Our researchers work diligently to design and develop emerging materials and processes ranging from bio-based materials for sustainable applications to metals for transportation needs, as well as sophisticated materials for our digital world and life-saving materials for biomedical applications.

While the focus is on the synthesis of novel and innovative materials, along with the development of the processes to make them more cost- and energy-effective, the possibilities are truly endless at the Faculty of Engineering.

Areas of research

  • Nanomaterials
  • Composite materials
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Sustainable materials
  • Biomedical materials
  • Electronic materials
  • Reactor design
  • Optimization, modeling and process control

Highlights

Leveraging organic electronics as an accessible alternative to silicon semiconductors

Organic electronics, which use carbon-based semiconductors, present several advantages over traditional electronics that are silicon-based. While silicon semiconductors may be a tried and true, mature technology, some important factors make the use of silicon less favourable for emerging and more niche applications. Notably, electronic grade silicon is manufactured at extremely high temperatures, resulting in elevated fabrication costs and significant environmental implications. In addition, organic materials are inherently lighter, thinner and more flexible, rendering them of great interest for current and novel electronic applications.

Professor Benoît Lessard runs the Lessard Research Group, where he and his team, work diligently on developing active carbon-based materials that have a wide range of applications. Some of these applications include:

  • Health tech, such as point of care diagnostics for the inexpensive and quick detection of narcotics or disease and wearable environmental sensors that detect carbon monoxide for first responders;
  • Light emitting technology, such as flexible organic LED-based displays for phones or televisions and energy-efficient lighting solutions; and
  • Sustainable and renewable energy, such as inexpensive solar power generation through organic photovoltaics that can be rolled up and taken travelling or made semitransparent and used as power generating window shades in sky scrapers.

While carbon-based semiconductors are not expected to displace silicon in computers or as grid power generation materials, they have the potential to disrupt markets and provide new opportunities for the growing internet of things. Exploiting these carbon-based materials provides a less expensive, more accessible and flexible alternative to traditional electronics, which the public can expect to see more over in the near future.

To keep up to date with Professor Lessard and his research group, we encourage you to follow him on Instagram @lessard.research.group or on Twitter @DrLessard.

Materials for a new world at uOttawa's Faculty of Engineering

Bertrand Jodoin in a lab at uOttawa

When in an airplane, soaring at 30,000 feet and watching a video on your phone, most people avoid thinking about the many tiny pieces keeping the craft aloft or of the different molecules that are lighting up in their electronic display.

Locally, the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Engineering has a number of researchers focused on improving the materials we use in our day-to-day lives. Their work falls under the Materials and Processes: Design and Development research theme. Researchers strive to both improve existing materials and manufacturing processes and to develop new, more efficient ones.

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