Thomas Thundat’s sensors can detect anything… including the Zika virus

A recent newspaper article featured the research of Thomas Thundat, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Oil Sands Molecular Engineering at the University of Alberta.

Thundat works on sensors that detect things at a molecular level, with applications as diverse as improved airport security and detecting prostate cancer. Thundat is currently developing more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to extract oil from the oil sands of Western Canada.

Thundat uses nanosensor technology to detect extremely small amounts of chemicals. The sensors consist of microcantilevers stacked on top of each other. They operate like diving boards, bending when a certain molecule attaches itself to a particular coating placed on the cantilever, which triggers the sensor.

Another development may prove to be a complete game changer, both in the oil sands and in many fields beyond.

Building on Tesla’s electric current work, Thundat and his 30-member team have developed single-wire technology to power sensors and other devices. This new technology, which only requires one wire to power a device instead of the traditional two, has helped bring his team’s work with sensors to another level.

Thundat has taken this work even further, developing “quasi-wireless capacitive power transfer” to speed our transformation into a community of smart cities and smart homes.

To find out how Thundat’s work can be applied to tailings ponds, agriculture and the Zika virus, read Paul Attfield’s article in The Globe and Mail (English only).