Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Thundat earns Discover Award

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 6, 2000 — Thomas Thundat, research staffer in the Life Sciences Division of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is one of 19 finalists to earn a 2000 Discover Award.

The award, presented by Discover magazine, recognizes 19 technological visionaries for their scientific work. Thundat was selected for the Humanitarian Award for his work on development of a small, extremely sensitive, mass-produceable land mine detector. Land mines remain a threat to innocent citizens who walk through areas where the mines were left years ago, but still remain dangerous. Land mines kill and main hundreds each year. The detector is capable of locating explosive vapors found in land mines with micromachined silicon microcantilevers that are smaller than the width of a human hair.

"The Discover Award is a measure of the science and technology leadership of the Department of Energy's National Laboratories," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "Oak Ridge National Laboratory is paving the way in developing new landmine detection technology that will not only improve security throughout the world, but will save lives."

Thundat and the 18 other nominees will be formally acknowledged at a gala ceremony June 24 at Walt Disney World in Florida.

He earned a doctorate in physics from the State University of New York at Albany. He also taught at the University of Tennessee and Arizona State University before joining ORNL in 1990.

Thundat and his wife, Darilyn, have two daughters - Rachel and Tessa. The family resides in West Knoxville.