Due to the high surface-to-volume ratio of semiconductor nanosystems, the surface atoms significantly influence their physical properties. Wide band gap materials have high density of surface states in their band gap, which are filled up to the Fermi level. By engineering the surface defects of the nanosystem, it is possible to control and manipulate its chemical, electrical, optical, and magnetic properties. Together with the very low thermal mass of the nanosystem, engineering the surface defects offers a unique opportunity for modulating the physical properties for developing multi-modal sensors with very high sensitivity and selectivity. Recently we have demonstrated nanowire chemical sensors where signal transduction and readout exploit modulation of surface states. While the science underlying role of surface states on chemical-to-thermal-to-electrical energy transduction is still being understood, the technological potential can be truly realized if multiple interactions can be detected simultaneously. Defect engineering of nanosystems can also be used in manipulating their optical and magnetic properties. This talk will focus on both the scientific understanding as well as the technological progress in the development of nanosystems for chemical and physical sensing. I will also discuss recent development in body area network of sensors and powering the sensors using single wire power transmission technique.
Dr. Thomas Thundat is a Canada Excellence Research Chair professor at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. He is also a Research Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a visiting professor at the University of Burgundy, France, a Distinguished Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and Centenary Professor at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He received his Ph.D. in physics from State University of New York at Albany in 1987. He is the author of over 380 publications in refereed journals, 45 book chapters, and 40 patents. Dr. 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 SPIE, and the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Dr. Thundat’s research is currently focused on novel physical, chemical, and biological detection using micro and nano mechanical sensors.