Nano-biotechnology & Biomedical Systems
Conformable Heart Sensors
Despite recent advancements in microelectronics that have seen sensors become ubiquitous in modern consumer electronics, the way we interact with many sensing technologies remains fundamentally the same. The demand for novel flexible and conformable sensors is particularly present in health and wellness sensors designed to be compatible with humans. By combining the malleability of household Silly Putty with the extraordinary properties of graphene we created a robust, ultra-conformable pressure sensor capable of detecting arterial blood pressures.
Team members: Joon Hyung Ahn, JaeJung Kim, Ahmed El-Madkhoum and Chris Williams
Wireless Power Transfer for Implantable Medical Devices
Implantable medical devices have revolutionized personalized diagnostics, monitoring and treatment. Batteries currently limit device miniaturization and require invasive surgery for replacement. Our system eliminates the need for a battery by employing telecommunications-range waves for wireless power transfer from an external source to a receiver that will be integrated into the device. This will allow for size reduction of current devices and potentially enable new small-scale biomedical applications.
Team members: Dhilan Bekah, Nayera El-Sawah, Graham Joe, Kai Slaughter and Adam Weinstein
Nanostructured Toxic Gas Sensor
Carbon monoxide and other toxic gases are responsible for thousands of gas poisoning cases in the US alone. Current wearable gas sensors lack sensitivity and use too much power. Our new technology solves these issues by using carbon nanotubes and metal oxides arranged in a high surface area nanostructure. This design for a wearable and cost-effective sensor has the potential to prevent injury and loss of life.
Team members: Michal Kononenko, Rebekah Maffett, Beatrice Sacripanti and Joshua Yun Ho Lo
Fillable Microneedle Patches
Injection of pharmaceuticals, while providing rapid and efficient drug action, is very invasive and typically requires the help of a healthcare practitioner. On the other hand, transdermal drug delivery, while minimally invasive and easy to use, has very slow onset times. Our device, a fillable microneedle patch, offers an intermediary drug and vaccine delivery system that combines the ease of use of a transdermal patch with efficacy and diversity of the hypodermic needle platform. Current microneedle products come filled with pre-determined amounts of drug; our product requires the end-user to fill the microneedle patch with their exact prescribed dose, allowing for a tailored, patient-specific solution.
Team members: Wesley Walker, Millie Wang, Xin Ran (Cindy) Wang and Yichen (Xiao) Zhao
SannTek: Impedimetric Sensor for Detection of THC
Marijuana legalization is a trend that is sweeping the globe, with several regions promising to adopt this policy in the near future. One relevant example is right here in Canada, where legalization is set for July 2018. However, one aspect of legalization that the government is currently struggling with is enforcing a legal limit. A lack of reliable detection methods makes roadside testing difficult. SannTek is developing a nanotechnology-based sensor that will determine a quantitative amount of THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana). The end goal is to create a breathalyzer equivalent for marijuana detection.
Team members: Noah Debrincat, Thomas Dunlop, Karolyn Mackowiak, Ben Milligan and Chris Taylor
Zinc Oxide Nanowires for Ethanol Gas Sensing
Ethanol is found in your favourite glass of wine, spoiled food and many industrial processes, and it is important to use an ethanol sensor in many situations. After a night of drinking, checking your blood alcohol level before driving may even save your life. Current ethanol sensors are too bulky, expensive and slow. Our solution takes advantage of the high surface area of nanowires to create a light, cheap and fast ethanol sensor that meets the demands of its applications. With this sensor, ethanol can be monitored more frequently and accurately in the chemical processing industry, and more importantly, lower cost will enable widespread use of breathalyzers, ultimately significantly reducing car accidents and saving lives.
Team members: Vismit Joshi, Rui (Sam) Li, Qian (David) Liang and Maxime Xu
Zinc-Ion Battery Cathode Scale-Up
A current issue of renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power is that consumer demand and energy supply to communities usually do not match up with one another. Grid-storage batteries are used to store excess energy when it is not needed and to deliver energy to communities when there is an insufficient amount of energy being generated. Our group is focusing on creating a prototype for a new type of zinc-ion rechargeable battery targeted for grid-storage applications. This new type of batter is revolutionized by a water-based electrode, making it safer during operation compared to other batteries, like lithium-ion batteries. The zinc-ion battery is also designed to provide more energy and last longer than other grid-storage batteries currently on the market.
Team members: Austin Boucinha, Ryan Brown, David Scott and Mitchell Smith
New Intercalation Materials for Rechargeable Zinc-Ion Batteries
Charles Mortimer, Jonathan Whatman, Anas Hazem and Brad Musclow
As the world moves towards a renewable economy, grid scale energy storage arises as a prominent issue. If energy cannot be stored at the time of generation then it is wasted. By using our robust knowledge of nanotechnology, our design team has developed a next generation zinc-Ion battery. Our battery will prove to be safer, cheaper and longer-lasting when compared to current lithium-ion technology.
Water scarcity has been an ongoing predicament in many countries around the world. Current water purification technologies are inadequate to meet the growing demand for water. Inspired by cribellate spider silk’s nanostructures, WaterWeb is designed to be an atmospheric water collecting device with an exceptional collecting efficiency, inexpensive cost and mass production capability, suitable for low-income households.
Team members: Jian-an Chiang, Mariam Gad, Aya Tsugimatsu and Chuqi (Steven) Wei
Erasable Ink for Inkjet Printers
Countless printed sheets are thrown out after a single use. Whether a document has a typo or is no longer needed, the permanent nature of printed ink leads to both frustration and waste. To tackle this, we have engineered an erasable ink based on heat-sensitive colour-changing technology. Through the controlled heating of the paper, the printed ink transitions to clear and the sheet of paper can be reused for printing.
Team members: Trevor Coathup, Aly Hassan, Darren Lam and Rory Mills
Pyroshield: A Nanocomposite for Fire Protection
Firefighters face dangerous conditions when dealing with fires, including heat, toxic gases and physical stress. Personal protective equipment, called "turnout gear," is the main line of defence against these dangers. Our novel nanomaterial has been optimized for reduced weight and increased heat resistance to enhance the protective properties of turnout gear without sacrificing breathability. The easily scalable fabrication process promotes widespread industry adoption in the hopes of improving firefighter safety.
Team members: Aaron Clasky, Christopher Ling, Anthony Silvaroli and Joshua Wicks
Graphene Coated Conductive Yarn for Wearable Applications
Rapid expansion of the wearable technology market has led to an increased demand for electronic textiles and fabrics. Current commercial conductive yarn lacks physical robustness, which leads to textiles that cannot withstand the stresses of daily use, ultimately resulting in products with a limited lifetime. Our project improves on current conductive yarn by using a graphene oxide coating that protects the yarn from all forms of degradation whilst preserving performance, allowing for the creation of more marketable advanced textile products.
Team members: Jonathan Daniel Chan, Kate De Beillis, Sahaj Dhamija and Kristin Makulowich
Bio-composite based Fruit Coatings
Billions of dollars’ worth of food are wasted every year due to the over-ripening of fruits and vegetables, and it has quickly become one of the greatest food crises of our time. Our solution aims to increase shelf life and drastically reduce waste through the use of biologically friendly and sustainable nanomaterials as the basis for produce coatings. By reducing food waste caused by spoilage, our design will have a positive social impact on communities worldwide.
Team members: Storm Gourley, Luke Kershaw, Ben Nagelmakers and Timothy Wong
Hydrophobic Aluminum for Efficient Refrigeration
Refrigeration and air-conditioning technologies are paramount to food security across the world. However, these processes are inherently energy intensive and can contribute up to 40% of power consumption in metropolitan areas. Technology developed at Harvard University shows that a hydrophobic functional coating on aluminum refrigerator coils can reduce their energy consumption by up to 30%. This project, in collaboration with a Harvard spin-off company, has developed a food-grade, economically feasible analog of the existing technology that can be integrated into large-scale, consumer-facing refrigeration technologies.
Team members: Jeffrey d'Eon, Jaewon Oh, Jatin Patil and Aravind Ramaraju
Laser Activated Optoelectronic Streak Camera Design
A streak camera is a device used to measure the beam duration of electron and photon pulses on the order of pico to femto-seconds (10 -12 to 10 -15 seconds). It uses a high frequency oscillator circuit (a couple of GHz) to displace incoming electrons, converting the temporal measurement, which is difficult to measure, into a spatial measurement. A photon beam can be converted to electron using a photocathode and characterized in a similar manner. Our group will be improving the design of a conventional streak camera by miniaturizing the device and improving its sensitivity and resolution by making some design adjustments. The device will be used in University of Waterloo’s Ultrafast Electron Imaging Laboratory to calibrate ultrafast laser spectroscopy experiments.
Team members: Spiro Bregu, Arnav Hasija and Qihao Li
Vibrational Energy Harvesting for Pipeline Leak Detection
Sensors for pipeline leak detection typically rely on batteries with limited lifespans for power. These batteries require frequent replacement and are often located in remote areas, creating high maintenance costs for pipeline operators. To lower these costs, we have designed a triboelectric energy harvester that transforms the natural vibrations of an oil pipeline into electrical power. Our device acts as a supplementary power source that replenishes a sensor's battery to extend its lifespan. As a result, our design allows pipeline operators to focus their investments on detecting leaks, rather than replacing batteries.
Team members: Connor Irvine, Kavinaath Murugan, Andrej Rosic and Adam Tetreault
E-Textile Enabled Gloves for Augmented Reality
As the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) markets grow, there is an increasing need for intuitive controls for interacting with the VR/AR environment. Current solutions fall short of meeting the lower end market requirements due to their cost and difficulty of use. By utilizing a silver nanowire e-textile to move the controls onto your fingertips, our glove controller aims to address these issues. The technology is safe, durable and lightweight.
Team members: Hubert Argasinski, Shaivi Bhatt, Brandon Hunt and Ramsey Kilani
Design of a Metastructured Terahertz Lens
Terahertz radiation is an underutilized portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that has many applications in remote characterization, medical imaging, security screening and high-speed communications. Focusing terahertz radiation, while important to many terahertz technologies, is difficult and often inefficient since most materials absorb terahertz frequencies. By taking advantage of the wave nature of light, we can design a lens that uses its structure, rather than material properties, to focus radiation. Our project therefore aims to design a metastructured terahertz lens that can be made more efficient than traditional lenses. High-efficiency lenses will allow for improvements in terahertz technology, including lower power consumption and increased sensitivity, to be implemented.
Team members:Isaac Harris, Edward (Gangjun) Jin, David Lin and Ian Stadelmann
Quantum Dot Enabled Organic Photo-Transistor
Molecular imaging allows for the visualization of cellular functions by using optically detectable fluorescent biomarkers, for the detection and diagnosis for a multitude of diseases. Unfortunately, these agents can cause adverse side effects to the patient. The development of a photosensor based on a conductive polymer and quantum dots can be used to improve the performance of current photosensors, thus minimizing the concentration of fluorescent agents required and potentially reducing the negative side effects experienced by the patient.
Team members: Akshayaa Govindan, Paulo Miguel, Tabi Salimi and Eric Velez-Chua
The high interest in wearable technologies has inspired various devices, sparking increased demand for portable energy storage devices. Bulky, conventional chargers and batteries fail to meet ergonomic standards and have slow charging speeds which have become outdated in our fast-paced world. Our device is a weavable supercapacitor thread which is lightweight and can be easily integrated into fabrics and apparel. Its rapid charging and discharging properties allow it to quickly power most portable devices, meeting the standards of today's working age.
Team members: Priya Bhargava, Nathan Chan, Matthew Martz and Nicholas Soucy
Bridging the THz Gap with Quantum Cascade Lasers
The terahertz (THz) region has many applications such as spectroscopy, astronomy, biomedical imaging and communications, however has remained untapped of its potentials due to lack of convenient sources. One promising candidate is the THz quantum cascade laser (QCL), in which the electronic energy levels can be engineered. In this project we aim to complete a robust modeling of the electronic properties that is capable of capturing the physics across a wide variety of quantum designs, perform thermal modeling and experimental measurements to reveal the detrimental heating of the QCL under operation, and control the optical beam pattern to satisfy a broad range of applications. Our project provides a solid integration of both the theoretical and experimental aspects of the quantum, thermal and optical areas of research. New designs are recommended towards bridging the THz gap.
Team members: Kai Xi (Cathy) Wang, Yao (Michael) Wang and Ze (Will) Zhang