Renewed Research Chair

  Michael Freund

Posted Thursday, February 26, 2009

In the future, polymers and plastics will be much more than passive materials and packaging.  Instead, there will be high performance plastics that change color, emit light and are able to sense and change according to the surroundings. This research, conducted at the University of Manitoba is made possible by renewed funding awarded to a University of Manitoba Canada Research Chair (CRC).

On February 23, the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), announced the renewal of two CRCs at the University of Manitoba, representing an investment of $1 million from the federal government.

"Our government recognizes the important role that research excellence plays in furthering innovation and competitiveness, two main elements in our science and technology strategy," notes Goodyear. "This is why we announced a $5.1-billion investment in science and technology in Budget 2009 - Canada's Economic Action Plan. The Canada Research Chairs Program helps universities attract and retain the best researchers in the world, which promotes job creation, enhances the quality of life of Canadians and strengthens the economy for future generations."

Digvir Jayas, acting vice-president (research) at the University of Manitoba, says the renewals continue the important research already underway by these two researchers and the impact that this research has on the lives of Manitobans, Canadians and people around the world.

In the Faculty of Science, Canada Research Chair in Conducting Polymers and Electronic Materials: Michael Freund, Chemistry, is involved in the development of new strategies for controlling the chemical and electronic properties of conducting polymers as well as their use in sensing applications. Unlike metals, the properties of electrically conducting polymers can be manipulated using principles and reactions common in synthetic organic chemistry. One of the biggest challenges in the field is implementing this chemistry without destroying its conducting properties. Freund is working on strategies that would preserve and control these properties.

Freund is also developing these polymers for sensing and electronic applications. For example, they are being designed for detecting sugars, of particular importance for the development of implantable sensors for monitoring diabetes. In collaboration with colleagues in Electrical Engineering, Freund is also developing new conducting polymer systems that could form the basis of cheaper electronic devices that could be integrated into fabrics and packaging materials.

The University of Manitoba currently holds 48 Canada Research Chairs. Chairholders are research leaders in natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, or social sciences and humanities.