The University of Waterloo NanoResearch Group (UWNRG) is an undergraduate student design team of 30+ students from a variety of engineering backgrounds. First established in 2007, UWNRG has gone from competing in IEEE’s ICRA competition to establishing its very own research group for undergraduates to learn, develop and test their creativity and knowledge through design of unique micro-systems. Our team strives to explore marvels at the micro-scale by using cutting-edge technology to push the limits of micro-systems and uncover the application of micro-systems in the world around us. Within UWNRG there are two distinct groups, MAYA (Micro Assembly YBCO Apparatus) and HyDRA (Hydroponics Dynamic Reduction Apparatus). For more information on our current projects, check us out at You can also find us on instagram and facebook @uwnrg.


MAYA is creating a Micro Assembly YBCO Apparatus. This robot uses a YBCO superconductor and micro-magnet system controlled by several motors to move the magnet to micron accuracy. The main principle at play here is quantum locking, or flux pinning. This phenomenon allows the magnet to be fixed in space above the superconductor, even if there is material between them. Once completed, MAYA opens up the possibility of performing complex operations on a small scale. In the future, we are looking to functionalize the magnet for custom applications such as micro electronics, and industrial micro-assembly. For more information, check out:


HyDRA stands for hydroponics dynamic reduction apparatus. This project has three different focuses: reducing the amount of ethylene in a hydroponics system, ensuring ideal growth conditions and identifying disease in the system. The main issue with plant growth in a hydroponics bay is that waterlogged environments cause plants to produce ethylene, a stress hormone which inhibits their growth. To solve this, we have designed a plasmid that leads to the production of ACC Deaminase. This protein metabolizes ACC, the biological precursor to ethylene. Bacteria will be transformed with this plasmid and reside in the hydroponics solution so they can reduce the ethylene in the system. The second aspect is designing a sensor network that will intake data from the hydroponics system and optimize conditions for plant growth without the need for hands-on monitoring. The third aspect is designing a microfluidics chip that will act as a pathogen sensor and be able to identify multiple pathogens to allow for the appropriate counter-measures to be taken. HyDRA is exploring using gold nanoparticles for ultra-sensitive and fast detection of these bacteria. For more information, check out: