Chris Wiebe

Richardson College for the Environment

Examining magnetism and electricity in complex materials

Dr. Chris Wiebe is an Associate Professor in Chemistry.  A former student of The University of Winnipeg (B. Sc. 1996), Dr. Wiebe returned to hometown in 2009 after a previous appointment as a faculty member at Florida State University and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida (2005-2009).

Dr. Wiebe’s research focuses on the search for new magnetic materials, and their characterization with a variety of techniques including x-ray and neutron scattering.  While some of these studies are targeted towards answering fundamental questions in magnetism, many of the materials studied have practical applications linked to new technologies related to sustainability, such as new energy storage devices, memory storage materials, and more efficient power lines.  At Florida State University, Dr. Wiebe was the leader of the Quantum Materials group and Director of the Crystal Growth program.  Upon returning to Canada, he continued his research efforts and quickly built a materials science program with collaborations locally and abroad.  Last year, Dr. Wiebe received $1 million in Canada Foundation for Innovation funding to launch PRIME at The University of Winnipeg (The Prairie Research Institute for Materials and Energy).  This new institute will boast some of the best equipment used for the synthesis and understanding of materials, including a floating zone image furnace (one of only several in Canada) for single crystal growth, and a low temperature magnet which can reach nearly absolute zero.  PRIME will be a cutting-edge research facility located in the Richardson Science Complex for the Environment that will distinguish the University of Winnipeg as having some of the best materials characterization equipment in Canada.

Another aspect of Dr. Wiebe’s research includes the use of x-ray and neutron beams for materials characterization.  Canada has a long and proud tradition of excellence in this field, with a powerful neutron source at Chalk River, and a new x-ray source at Saskatoon (the Canadian Light Source).  Neutrons and x-rays are exquisite probes of matter, enabling scientists to visualize where atoms are and how they move in space.  These probes are essential for chemists to be able to understand how molecular structures are related to the properties of matter, and how to design new materials such as high temperature superconductors and new rechargeable batteries.  Dr. Wiebe is heavily involved in the promotion of scattering as a technique for scientists in a broad range of fields (chemistry, biology, physics, and engineering) to understand their world around them, and is involved in the development of neutron science in Canada and abroad.