The BIMR is an interdisciplinary research organization with the mandate to develop, support and co-ordinate all materials research-related activities at McMaster. The facilities of the Institute and its pool of expertise are also available to industry and organizations that require assistance with materials research and development or material analysis. Its membership of 123 faculty members is drawn from 13 departments in the Faculties of Science, Engineering and Health Sciences and several Canadian and International Universities.
Founded by Howard Petch in the 1960's, the IMR is the foundation on which McMaster's internationally recognized, comprehensive programme in Materials Research has been built.
Bertram N. Brockhouse was born July 15, 1918 in Lethbridge, Alberta, the son of Israel and Mable Brockhouse. At an early age he moved with his family to Vancouver. After graduating from high school in 1935, he worked as a laboratory assistant, and then as a self-employed radio repairman, both in Vancouver and in Chicago. He spent the war years in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve, mostly on the lower deck, partly as an electronics technician, and he then attended the University of British Columbia, from which he graduated in 1947 with first class honours in mathematics and physics.
Bertram N. Brockhouse entered the University of Toronto that same year, and the following year married Doris Miller, whom he had met in Ottawa in 1945. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1950, with a thesis entitled "The Effect of Stress and Temperature upon the Magnetic Properties of Ferromagnetic Materials".
In July 1950 Brockhouse joined the staff of the Atomic Energy Project of the National Research Council of Canada, later to become Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), at the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories about 130 miles northwest of Ottawa. It appears that D.G. Hurst, head of the Neutron Spectrometer Section of the General physics Division, was looking for someone to do neutron scattering experiments, and that Bert Brockhouse was spotted at the University of Toronto and invited to apply for the position. One wonders whether the Brockhouses didn't have second thoughts about their move when the town of Deep River was overrun by a plague of caterpillars, only a few months after their arrival! Brockhouse's first work at Chalk River, in collaboration with Hurst and M. Bloom, involved him in a series of studies of the resonant scattering of slow neutrons by strong absorbers such as cadmium and samarium.
The measurements were made by placing the sample in a well shielded scattering chamber so that it was surrounded by an annular array of six Bismuth Fluoride detectors. The chamber was mounted on the arm of a single-axis spectrometer which had been built by Hurst and his group in the late nineteen- forties.