Brandon University’s micro-analytical facility is getting a big technology upgrade courtesy of the federal government.
Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid was on campus on Wednesday to announce that the facility would be receiving an investment of $335,000 to be used on purchasing new equipment and creating up to 16 new jobs.
The investment was made through Western Economic Diversification Canada, a federal economic development department. Duguid was attending on behalf of Mélanie Joly, minister of economic development and official languages, as her parliamentary secretary.
BU’s micro-analytical facility has a dual purpose: it both trains students on how to use analytical equipment and analyzes materials and samples for various industries. For example, the facility can examine mineral samples for mining companies and provide a detailed analysis of what elements it contains.
According to a news release circulated at the announcement, the investment is being made so that the facility can improve its services to various industries in their pursuits of clean technologies.
Some pieces of equipment have already been purchased, including a new energy dispersive spectrometer for the facility’s electron microscope.
When a sample is placed under the electron microscope, the spectrometer can help the user quickly identify elements based on how they react after being bombarded with particles.
While the facility was previously capable of performing many of the same tasks these new devices do, their addition means that tasks that previously took days or weeks now only take weeks or hour, facility director Ayat Baig said.
Baig recently spent a week in Texas to learn how to use the new equipment. He said that surprisingly, it was colder in Houston than it was in Brandon.
Another new addition is an x-ray diffractometer, which can be used to analyze the composition of pharmaceuticals, minerals and rocks among other materials. A sample is hit with x-rays and its structure is determined by analyzing how the x-rays scatter after making contact.
As the device can identify drugs, Baig said he is considering approaching the Brandon Police Service to see if they could use the facility’s assistance with testing.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark