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INRS’s ALLS laboratory has acquired new laser facilities through the support of government partners

January 18, 2021 | Sophie Laberge

Update : May 21, 2021

Unique in Canada, the Advanced Laser Light Source Laboratory (ALLS) of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) has begun upgrading the power of its lasers in 2020.

The Advanced Laser Light Source Laboratory (ALLS). Photo : Josée Lecompte

Under the responsibility of Professor François Légaré, the ALLS infrastructure has received more than $12 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Quebec government to boost the performance of its infrared lasers. This co-funding will allow INRS research members to remain leaders in this strategic field for the future.

Ultimately, this extensive work will provide better access to even more efficient facilities, which are unique in Canada. Operating this variety of high-intensity lasers, including the most powerful laser in the country, allows for numerous applications, whether in basic research (probing and controlling matter) or applied research (high-resolution imaging with medical and environmental applications). Moreover, the ALLS laboratory offers unique tools to its industrial users in Quebec and Canada to develop new photonic technologies for commercialization.

With the financial investment of the CFI and the Government of Quebec, INRS’ ALLS infrastructure, located on the Varennes campus in Québec, is now part of the LaserNetUS network, bringing together ten partner organizations or institutions located in the United States, aside from INRS, which is the only academic institution in Quebec and Canada. In 2020, the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) awarded a $300,000 grant to match LaserNetUS funds and open this infrastructure of the Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Centre to national and international users. In October, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $18 million in funding distributed among partner institutions in the large LaserNetUS network. Professors Jean-Claude Kieffer and Patrizio Antici have worked closely with Professor Légaré on this project.

“The growth of quantum technologies in Quebec depends on close collaboration between stakeholders from the business and research communities. By making this cutting-edge equipment available to researchers, universities and businesses in Quebec, the ALLS laboratory accelerates scientific development. I applaud INRS for promoting Québec’s strengths in the promising field of quantum technologies,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy and Innovation.

“INRS is involved in numerous national and international strategic research and training alliances, such as LaserNetUS, both through collaborating with the industry, the public and government organizations,” said Luc-Alain Giraldeau, INRS Chief Executive Officer. “The funding from the Quebec government supports not only our researchers, but also all of Quebec and abroad. Indeed, the ALLS infrastructure allows companies to have access to these cutting-edge technologies through certain research partnership agreements.”

Ultra-powerful lasers

After several years of research, the ALLS infrastructure is finally able to provide INRS researchers with laser sources for revolutionary applications. This state-of-the-art infrastructure is also made available to members of other universities and private companies who need to perform tests leading to innovations in this field.

The ALLS infrastructure is positioned to further its development and remain a center of excellence in ultrafast science on an international scale. Equipped with several lasers with special properties, this research facility provides access to ultrafast light sources to explore fundamental questions in physics and chemistry, including the study of matter at the atomic and electron level. It also enables the development of radiation sources, ranging from terahertz to very high energy X-rays that produce ultra-short pulses, and opens up a field of exploration in dynamic imaging of molecules and complex systems such as quantum materials. It allows the acceleration of particles to speeds close to the speed of light in a few millimeters, which opens perspectives in medicine, astrophysics, fusion, material sciences and cultural heritage.

Since it opened to users in 2005, the ALLS laboratory has welcomed more than a hundred scientists from Canada and abroad, thereby attracting and retaining talent in Quebec, educating students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as creating and supporting Canadian companies through multidisciplinary and complementary expertise in physics, chemistry, materials, biology and medicine.

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