Image of tiny ice detection sensor
University of British Columbia graduate students Kiana Mirshahidi and Ben Wiltshire show the tiny ice detection sensor. (UBCO)

A new sensor, that can detect ice accumulation in real-time, might be a game-changer when it comes to airline safety and efficiency. The sensor could detect the precise moment when ice begins to form on a surface. Due to their high sensitivity, low power, ease of fabrication, and planar profile, microwave resonators were used.

The sensors can detect when water hits the wing, track the phase transition from water to ice, and then measure the thickness of the ice as it grows, all without altering the aerodynamic profile of the wing.