It is always worth paying heed to an economist whose worldview extends beyond the balance sheet. Such an individual is Todd Hirsch, chief economist at ATB Financial, an Alberta-based financial institution and provincial Crown corporation. Hirsch, who is interviewed in “Policy Pundit,” suggests that science’s contributions to society today are undervalued and underappreciated. Such a position, he opines, doesn’t bode well for Canada’s future as a top competitor in the global economy. 

Various Canadian researchers are on the cusp of innovation in an area of science that some predict will have as big an impact on manufacturing and health care as the Industrial Revolution did on agriculture and manual labour in Europe and England. Three-dimensional (3D) printing, the basis for what is called additive manufacturing, has been around for the past three decades. During this time it has been used mainly to produce basic prototypes. Now, however, the technology has become much more readily available. Researchers like Ontario’s Charles Mire and Andrew Finkle of Structur3D Printing are experimenting with new materials for 3D printer “ink” that will expand the scope of this technology. Meanwhile, experimentation is underway at the universities of Toronto and British Columbia with hydrogels and biopolymers that can be used to “print” skin and, potentially, other human organs. 

A fascinating read is “Quantum Leaps,” a profile of Axel Becke, one of the great minds of the 21st century and the pride of Dalhousie University. This year’s NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering winner, Becke has changed the world of molecular modelling by bridging quantum physics and practical chemistry, impacting everything from polymers to drug design.

The impact of epitaxy has been no less profound, although most of us may not realize it. As the saying goes, “You can never be too thin,” the title of our story about the technique of growing the semiconductor crystals that are the material foundation of the electronics that define so much of our modern way of life. When it comes to epitaxy equipment, expertise and research, Canada punches far above its weight thanks to the legacy of our once-booming telecom sector. 

Chemistry News offers all kinds of curious insights, including a fashionable take on Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS), which is being amalgamated with a traditional Indian weaving technique known as zari to provide a platform to detect exposure to disease. Another story rolls out — literally — a manufacturing advance that has expanded graphite’s usefulness. And who knew that by rearranging a molecule — swapping a hydroxyl for a fluorine — Neomycin would be given a new lease on its efficacy as a topical medication? 
Have a fabulous summer and we’ll see you in September.