Release Date: October 4, 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thomas Thundat, an internationally recognized expert on nanomechanical sensors, network of sensors and quasi-wireless transmission of electricity, has joined the University at Buffalo’s RENEW Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Thundat will serve as Professor of Empire Innovation in RENEW— an interdisciplinary institute dedicated to research and education on globally pressing problems in energy, environment and water — and in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE).
His appointment was announced by RENEW Director Amit Goyal and Liesl Folks, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
“We are delighted that Thomas Thundat, an internationally-recognized expert with an exemplary record of research and service, has joined the UB RENEW Institute and CBE. He will boost UB’s position as a premier public research university and will significantly impact all the focus areas of RENEW,” Folks and Goyal said in a joint statement.
Prior to joining UB, Thundat was a Canada Excellence Research Chair professor in Oil Sands Molecular Engineering at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Before that, he worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ONRL), where he was a Corporate Fellow and the leader of the Nanoscale Science and Devices Group.
Thundat’s work crosscuts all research focus areas of RENEW. His expertise includes physics and chemistry of interfaces, biophysics, solid-liquid interfaces, scanning probes, nanoscale phenomena and quantum confined atoms.
Thundat has developed high-performance sensor (physical, chemical and biological) platforms and concepts (based on atomic and molecular level interface engineering) that have led to enhanced sensor performance and control. Such sensors play critical roles in modern society, touching nearly every aspect of our daily lives with applications ranging from manufacturing and commercial products to health care, military, energy and the environment.
A goal of this work is to program a large number of these sensors that work together, simultaneously detecting parameters, as well as road and weather conditions, resulting in enhanced performance, reduced environmental footprint and increased safety.
Additionally, he is working on novel methods for transmission of electricity using single wire and single contact — similar to what Nikola Tesla proposed more than a century ago. The concept, which uses single wire electrical standing waves with high-efficiency, can be used to power a network of sensors or for delivering electrical power to devices in a quasi-wireless mode. This quasi-wireless transmission of power is well-suited for applications in vehicles, robotics, factories, smart homes and wearables, and it could be incorporated into energy-efficient manufacturing, agriculture and transportation, as well as monitoring environmental pollution.
Thundat plans to collaborate with clinicians at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to develop miniature sensors and electrode arrays for the body. These systems will help with the early detection of diseases and monitoring pollutants in the environment, both of which are critical to enhancing the quality of life, protecting the environment, efficiently utilizing natural resources and achieving energy efficiency.
Thundat received his master’s degree in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and PhD in physics from the University at Albany in 1987. He has authored over 400 publications in refereed journals, 57 conference proceedings, 15 book chapters, and he holds 40 U.S. patents. He serves on editorial boards of many journals.
He is also a Distinguished Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, a Centenary Professor at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and a One Thousand Talents Professor at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China.
Thundat is the recipient of many awards, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Young Scientist Award, three R&D 100 Awards, ASME Pioneer Award, Discover Magazine Award, Scientific American 50 Award, Jesse Beams Medal, Nano 50 Award, and multiple national awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for excellence in technology transfer. Oak Ridge National Laboratory named him Inventor of the Year twice. He is also a Battelle Distinguished Inventor.
Thundat is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), the Electrochemical Society (ECS), the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Society for Optical and Photonics Engineers (SPIE), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).