Over a century ago Nikola Tesla proposed a different mode of electricity transmission where the earth acted as a single wire. We have resurrected this old concept for delivering electrical power to all kinds of devices. One such application is powering miniature sensors and devices. Despite the many advances in the development of miniature sensors based on micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), their use as implantable sensors and left behind sensors with telemetry still remain as challenge. Batteries pose the biggest bottleneck in the development of miniature sensors because of their large sizes and limited lifetime. Using a standing wave concept, we have developed a technique of power delivery through the resonance of a solitary wire with its surrounding stray capacitance. The system may operate with only a single connection to the power supply where the return path is completed through the stray capacitance. The standard two-wire transmission line may be replaced with a single wire. Presently, the method is experimentally demonstrated at the small scale using loads of up to 50 watts with efficiency over 90%. Simple circuit models show close agreement with experimental results. I will discuss potential applications of this method for many applications such as charging electronic devices, powering electric vehicles, in-situ heating of oil sands deposits, remediation of tailing ponds, etc. I will also discuss the possibilities of powering remote villages and transmission of large-scale power over large distances.
Prior to becoming the CERC Chair in Oil Sands Molecular Engineering, Dr. Thundat was a University of Tennessee-Batelle/Oak Ridge National Laboratory(ORNL) Corporate Fellow and led the Nanoscale Science and Devices Group at ORNL. He holds professorships at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the University of Burgundy in France and an honorary professorship at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras and IISc Bangalore. He received his PhD in Physics in 1987 from the State University of New York – Albany.Dr. Thundat has authored over 285 publications in refereed journals, 48 book chapters and 30 patents. He has received a number of awards, most recently the Outstanding Achievement Award in the Sensor Division of the Electrochemical Society. As well, Dr. Thundat has received the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Pioneer Award, the Batelle Distinguished Inventor Award and many ORNL awards for research and development. He is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Electrochemical Society, the American Association for Advancement of Science and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His research is focused on novel physical, chemical and biological detection of using micro- and nano -mechanical sensors. His expertise lies in the areas of interfaces, biophysics, scanning probes, nanoscale phenomena and quantum confined atoms. For more information about Prof. Thomas Thundat, please visit: http://www.cme.engineering.ualberta.ca/en/FacultyStaff/FacultyAcademicStaff/Thundat.aspx