Microwaves measure properties of liquids

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Microwave may be best known for heating food in your oven and telecomm transmission, but it also makes a powerful analytical tool.

In the last 10 years, microwave spectroscopy was invented; however, such devices are bulky and energy inefficient. Professor Carolyn Ren (Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering) tasked her graduate students to miniaturize the microwave sensor and combine it with a microfluidic device to fingerprint liquid properties. After several years of experimentation, this development culminated with a research paper in 2013 (Lab on a Chip, 2013, 13, 3840), which was chosen by the editor for the journal edition’s cover page.

QuantWave Technologies Inc., was founded in December 2016 by Professor Ren and two former graduate students from the University of Waterloo, Alex Chen, PhD, and Michael Wang, who brought in industrial experience in commercialization and applications.

quantumwave logo
The company was created to pursue the growing demands of intelligent sensing for industrial IoT applications. QuantWave aims to improve the quality of industrial manufacturing processes and finished products, minimize the capital and operational costs as well as to provide optimal decision-making tools by developing a real-time, AI-powered and multi-parameter intelligent sensing system. The company integrates microfluidics and high-frequency microwave technologies with AI algorithms to provide online monitoring and predictive data analytics for a variety of industrial liquids, with an initial focus on water, dairy products and beverages. For example, Quantwave has developed sensors capable of monitoring biological oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, conductivity, turbidity, and orthophosphate and other parameters in wastewater, and for testing milk for total fats, proteins, solids in real time. Both applications have been successfully demonstrated at the pilot scale with industrial partners.