University of Saskatchewan

September 19, 2014   

Advanced Technology

U of S Linear Accelerator
A $1.75-million, 80-foot linear accelerator (linac) was officially opened in 1964 at the U of S. The opening was attended by 75 visiting scientists from around the world, with lectures and papers presented over a period of several days. The electron accelerator tube was designed to create energy six times that of the university's betatron.

The Linac served the campus research community for three decades until it was repurposed as an electron source for the Canadian Light Source synchrotron.

U of S Professor a Nobel Laureate for Physics Work
Dr. Gerhard Herzberg, a U of S professor in 1935-45, was the first Canadian to win a Nobel Prize in either chemistry or physics. While at the U of S he authored two books - Atomic Spectra and Atomic Structure in 1937, and Molecular Structure in 1939 - that were considered the most authoritative treatises on spectroscopy.

Leaders in Space
The Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies (ISAS), founded in 1957 by Professor Balfour Currie, was the first U of S institute of S and the first "space and atmospheric science" institute in Canada. Many prominent scientists have had their beginnings in ISAS, and gone on to become leaders of space science in Canada and elsewhere: ie. P.A. Forsyth, D.M. Hunten, A.Vallence Jones, and G.G. Shepherd.

ISAS has also been the hub for industrial/high-technology growth: the Space Engineering Division began in ISAS (Professor Alex Kavadas), became a University Corporation, and is now SED Systems (a Division of Calian Ltd); and SciTec (which was transformed to Kipp & Zonen Inc.) and SIL (Scientific Instrumentation Ltd) spun-off from SED. There have been other subsequent spin-offs.

In 1998, SED Systems was awarded the largest contract ever to a Canadian company by the European Space Commission. SED was contracted to build a 35-metre deep-space antenna in Australia at a cost of $23 million. The antenna was needed for the ESA's ROSETTA program, in which a spacecraft launched in 2004 is sending back data and will eventually rendezvous in nine years with the comet Wirtanen. In 2003, SED was awarded a $33-million contract to build another 35-metre antenna in Spain to support ROSETTA and other projects. SED is headquartered in Saskatoon and had its beginnings in 1965 as a division of the Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies at the U of S. It is now privately held as a division of Calian Ltd.

With more than 40 scientific and administrative staff, ISAS now provides Canadian and International leadership for research and education opportunities in space and atmospheric environmental research and space weather and climate change studies, using ground-based radar and space-based satellite systems. These systems are designed and developed in-house (its parent department is now the department of physics and engineering physics) and also within Canadian industry, with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) as government partner.

U of S Experiment First Canadian One in Space Shuttle
An experiment of biochemist Louis Delbaere, to study protein crystallization in space, was the first Canadian one aboard a space shuttle. Delbaere's experiment was selected for NASA's Discovery shuttle in 1990; he later had other experiments in space including a 1992 experiment aboard the Russian space station Mir. Delbaere's work in biochemistry has yielded numerous advances - especially notable was a 1994 discovery in anti-cancer drug therapy. Delbaere's team identified a receptor site where trifluoperazine, an anti-cancer drug, binds to a key protein found in all cells, but has a much lower toxic effect on normal cells.

Canada's First Tokamak
In 1995, U of S Physicist Akira Hirose was presented with the university's Distinguished Researcher Award in recognition of his contributions to the field of plasma physics. At the U of S in the 1980s he constructed Canada's first 'tokamak' (doughnut-shaped) fusion device. Its purpose is to advance research toward the attainment of nuclear fusion, the process that fuels the sun and other stars. His 1992 theory for anomalous electron thermal conductivity in tokamak reactors and his prediction of two new instabilities in tokamak magnetic geometry were major steps in understanding the problems in achieving fusion.

Groundbreaking Computer Software Tool Developed
In 1975, Winfried Grassmann developed a software tool which was the first to implement a method called "uniformization in queueing applications." The technique, subsequently published by Grassmann in 1977, has come to be used commonly throughout the world in scheduling and optimization applications. It is embedded in dozens of software applications in wide use today (such as airline scheduling, telephone switching, scheduling initiatives to minimize waiting times in stores, etc.) and has become the primary method used to model information traffic on the internet.

Another related invention by Grassmann in 1985, known as the GTH-method Grassmann/Taksar/Heyman method) offers more precise modelling capability and is frequently used in optimization and modelling applications where greater accuracy is required.