What do medical diagnostics, vulcanized rubber, airport security screening and every single computer chip in the world have in common? They all rely on particle accelerators to advance their fields, explains Dr. Morgan Dehnel, founder and president of D-Pace. Dr. Dehnel started D-Pace on his own in Nelson twenty years ago. A lot has happened in that time to make D-Pace the successful tech company that it is today. The company now has a team of ten which supplies products and services to the international commercial accelerator industry.
All of D-Pace’s products are designed in Nelson, and a quarter of them are made in B.C. Nelson, which is known as much for its heritage buildings, gorgeous scenery as its well-worn Birkenstocks isn’t an obvious choice to some for a successful tech company to set up shop. It’s a question Dr. Dehnel gets a lot.
“Well, why not?” he responds. “It’s not difficult to get talent. Young tech talent are attracted by the skiing and other sports, good restaurants, cultural activities and general beauty of Nelson. Within a few blocks, we have our lawyers, accountants, and other supports. Plus, the cost of living is lower than other B.C. centres, but we’re close to an airport which allows for easy travel and shipping.”
Easy shipping is important, because most of D-Pace’s products are sold globally. From Argentina to France, India and Japan, B.C.-born technology is advancing the research and industrial applications of science around the world.
The job of a particle accelerator is to speed up a beam of charged particles, creating the opportunity for these high-energy particles to collide with matter. The applications of this kind of science are endless, from research in astrophysics to the generation of X-rays for treatment of cancerous tumours.
There are tens of thousands of particle accelerators in the world, and specialized equipment is needed to help run these machines. D-Pace offers a suite of products and services that help particle accelerators run. For instance, the company designs and manufactures beam transport systems, four different kinds of magnets that help focus and steer those beams, beam diagnostic devices that inform operators where the beam is and what shape and intensity it has, support stands that hold the equipment up, and vacuum chambers through which the beams travel.