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York University student Erfan Nouraee wins $15K for light detection device

Almost half the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, the majority of them women, and most in developing countries, are still offline. 

But student Erfan Nouraee is hoping that to people in rural  communities his Photon Detector sensor. 

The 21-year-old, who has just completed a degree in electrical engineering at York University, has come up with the ‘The Photon Detector’ a device which detects the emission of electrons from metal surfaces caused by the particles of light – photons. 

The device is fitted to the back of a fiber-optic cable, which is loaded with optical fibers. 

It is then connected to a processor that converts light signals into digital or simulated data. 

Erfan hit upon the idea after a recent visit to a rural community in Iran, where he visited an elementary school.

His sensor has proven accurate 95 percent of the time and is more sensitive than current sensors.

Erfan loved the principle behind inventions that bring people together. He liked to paint and would regularly volunteer. He’s also loved science “since I can remember, Nouraee, 21, told City News Toronto. His two passions met when, in 2017, he began looking for an environmentally safe way to make high-speed internet more accessible and affordable.

‘I went on the internet and I found that a third of the world’s population is still without access to high-speed internet. It was then that I knew I had to do something.’ 

‘People without access to the internet face significant challenges in terms of education, economic opportunities, and social connectivity. 

‘Without the ability to connect with information, resources, and networks, they often find themselves at a disadvantage in today’s interconnected world.’

Erfan added that the invention was still under development – and that he had considered several other ways of making it work efficiently.

‘What inspired me mainly was to make something to help people in our rural and remote communities to access low-cost, high-speed internet,’ he said.

In 2016, Erfan won first place at the Khwarizmi Youth Awards in Iran. He was the winner of the 2021 International Invention and Innovation Award. He also won the 2018 FIRA RoboWorld Cup, earning a bronze cup for his robot.

He beat students from around the world with his “Photon Detector System” submission.

Photon Detector System increases the optical signals’ quality, prolongs the life of the fiber optic cables and reduces their damaging byproducts, Erfan added. 

The design will be exhibited as part of the ‘Geneva Invention’ exhibition.

Erfan is studying electrical engineering at York University, but he still takes the time to tell his story to young students in hopes they can get inspired to pursue their dreams. 

His creation has caught the attention of famous investors and manufacturers who have reached out to work with his start-up company. 

Erfan received congratulatory messages from several senior Canadian government officials, including Toronto Mayor John Tory.  

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