Research | Queen’s University Canada

Pioneering Queen’s chemistry research gets $24M boost

Pioneering Queen’s chemistry research gets $24M boost

January 12, 2022
Dave Rideout
January 12, 2022

Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund supporting novel research that could extend the lifespan of metals and potentially save billions across the infrastructure, microchip, and health care industries.


Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund supporting novel research that could extend the lifespan of metals and potentially save billions across the infrastructure, microchip, and health care industries.

Extending the lifespan of metals

Extending the lifespan of metals

Queen's researcher and Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Coatings Dr. Cathleen Crudden has received $24 million from the Government of Canada to develop coatings that could preserve metals against deterioration.

Molecular science. Momentous effect.

Together with her multidisciplinary team of international researchers and industry collaborators, Dr. Crudden is developing a fundamentally new approach for protecting metal surfaces. Building on her prior discovery that a certain class of organic molecules can form bonds with a wide range of metals, the group is exploring and developing a carbon-on-metal coating that could slow or halt corrosion and degradation caused by oxygen, changes in pH, and heat.

"Worldwide, countries spend, on average, over three per cent of their GDP each year on corrosion maintenance. Annually, Canada spends around $66 billion across sectors," says Dr. Crudden, professor and Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry. "With new strategies, like the innovative coatings we are developing, we could save governments, taxpayers, and industries up to 25 per cent of this cost. We are very excited about the potential this work holds, and grateful for this significant support from the New Frontiers in Research Fund: Transformation Stream."

These coatings could prevent metals in microchips from breaking down, leading to greater longevity for our computers, phones, and other devices. They could also guard against automobile rust, improve aerospace design, and even be used on a nanoscale, improving targeted chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and refining medical imaging.

The technology’s potential to improve cancer care is promising, as it could enable new advances to nanomedical precision cancer treatments that could impact the health and wellbeing of one-in-two Canadians who will develop the disease in their lifetimes.

Dr. Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry) with her team of Queen's collaborators, lab members, and students. [Photo taken in accordance with COVID-19 protocols in effect at the time.]

International collaboration, learning, and training.

Along with multidisciplinary research and industry collaborators across Canada, the US, and Europe, Dr. Crudden is working alongside several Queen’s University colleagues. Chantelle Capicciotti, Queen’s National Scholar and assistant professor of Chemistry and Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, joins Dr. Crudden as a co-principal investigator on the project, while Kevin Stamplecoskie, assistant professor in Chemistry, and Alastair McLean, professor in Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, are co-applicants.

"I want to congratulate Dr. Crudden and her team on being awarded this new funding, and thank the Government of Canada for supporting high-risk, high-reward research with the potential for wide-ranging impacts," says Nancy Ross, Queen’s Vice-Principal (Research). "Not only could this project boost Canada’s position in the global high-tech sector, but it will also enhance cross-disciplinary collaborations, support early career professionals, strengthen equity, diversity, and inclusion opportunities, and expand student learning in myriad ways."

The project’s potential to boost professional and educational development for those involved is significant. Early career researchers like Drs. Capicciotti and Stamplecoskie, stand to gain invaluable leadership, learning, and collaborative experiences while performing vital roles in advancing the work.

Graduate and post-doctoral students will be involved as well; learning and working alongside, and supervised by, early career and seasoned researchers – building their skillsets and improving future employability. Dr. Crudden is preparing to hire approximately 14 students and post-doctoral fellows to assist with the project.

Project collaborators

Project co-principal investigators:

Western University, Concordia University, McGill University, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Networks

Project co-applicants:

University of St Andrews (Scotland), University of Texas (Dallas), University of Jyvaskyla (Finland), University of Toronto, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US), University of Tokyo, École de technologie supérieure, Département de génie de la construction, Simon Fraser University

Identified industrial collaborators:

3M, Solvay, (SFL)-CanUSA, National Research Council Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre, Division of Transportation and Manufacturing, NRCan – CanMetMATERIALS, Hydro Quebec and CRDQA, Ocean Networks Canada, Jernkontoret, The Nickel Institute, Intel Corporation, Tokyo Electron Limited, Canadian Cancer Trials Group, Izotropic Corporation, Nano-medicine Innovation Network

The New Frontiers in Research Funding results were announced as part of a bundled science announcement that included the latest round of Canada Research Chair appointment and renewals and graduate scholarships and fellowships. You can find Queen’s coverage of these funding achievements here.

Researcher Profile
Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry

Cathleen Crudden

Investigating how organic compounds interact with metals in the synthesis of novel materials and development of highly active catalysts: this research will help to develop new catalysts that will be useful in producing pharmaceuticals and state-of-the-art biosensing applications.


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