Curricular and Research Overview
Communications, Information, and Signal Processing. Advanced study and research in this field deals with the encoding, transmission, retrieval, and interpretation of information in many forms. Students may pursue programs of study focusing on mathematical foundations, improved algorithms, and hardware/software implementation. Communications research focuses on the transmission of information over wireless, optical, and wired channels. Telecommunications engineering creates wired and wireless systems that satisfy desirable societal, bandwidth, and hardware constraints. Research in statistical communications aims at reducing adverse effects on signal transmission in such systems through probabilistic modeling. The channels considered range from subminiature networks inside a computer chip, through broadband cable and communications satellites.
Image Sciences . Research in this area covers a range of technologies and applications. Research areas include image reconstruction, pattern recognition, computer vision, image and video processing, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, machine learning, computational geometry, geographic information science and computational cartography. Primary application areas include systems biology, bioinformatics, computer-assisted surgery, radiation treatment planning, diffuse optical and optical coherence tomography, synthetic aperture imaging, distributed RF imaging, camera networks, range data processing, large geometric datasets, image and video processing for human viewers including visual effects in movies and television, image analysis aids to neurobiology, and multimodality imaging and analysis.
Computer Engineering and Networks . The development of advanced computer systems and their interconnection to facilitate ubiquitous and pervasive computing capabilities is the primary focus of this group. Research topics related to the design, implementation, layout, and testing of hardware systems include the design and testing of digital and mixed-signal chips and the development of computer-aided design tools. Other topics, many in conjunction with Electrophysical Devices and Systems (below), include error correcting coding system design and VLSI implementation for magnetic and holographic storage, algorithm/architecture co-design for wireless multi-antenna signal processing, fault tolerance for semiconductor and molecular nanoelectronic memory. Work in this group includes broadband multi-Gb/s communications circuits and wafer-level 3D integration for millimeter wave smart antennas. RF-powered wireless communications circuits for bio-implantable microsystems and methodologies to enable inexpensive portable platforms for reliable, fast, safe environmental assessment and biomedical diagnostics are of particular interest.
Computer networking research addresses on the development of protocols and architectures for both wired and wireless networks and their modeling for performance evaluation. Emerging technologies for wireless and optical last mile access, wireless sensors networks, network management, traffic management, congestion control, traffic engineering, and quality-of-service (QoS) architectures form the basic areas of current research.
Control, Robotics, and Systems Biology. Current research projects address both control theory and a variety of applications. Faculty interests include advanced control algorithms development in the areas of nonlinear control, adaptive control, multivariable control, robust control, distributed control, and optimal control. These algorithms are applied to robotics, automation systems, robotic multi-vehicle (ground, air, water) coordination, power generation and transmission systems, power electronics, networked systems, micro and nano-systems, biomedical and biological systems, and discrete-event systems. Current projects include planning and control for advanced manufacturing systems, multi-robot actuator and sensor networks for coordinated monitoring and manipulation, and precision motion and force control with vision guidance in micro- and nano-assembly manufacturing and distributed robotics for environmental observation and monitoring. Another area of interest is nonlinear control of large-scale interconnected systems (communication and power networks, vehicle formations, etc.) with limited, local information available to each component of the system. Discrete-event systems theory is a modeling and control discipline relevant to computer-communication systems, transportation systems, as well as the modeling and control of automated manufacturing systems.
Recent advances in biotechnology have transformed the field of biology in a profound way. Large quantities of data obtainable from measurements of biomolecular compounds and interactions necessitate the development of novel methods of analysis to extract meaningful information. This leads to more quantitative methods by which various cellular biological phenomena are analyzed using mathematical models. Systems biology is the study of an organism, viewed as an integrated and interacting network of genes, proteins, and biochemical reactions that give rise to life.
Energy Sources and Systems . Research in energy sources and systems is becoming critically important to meet the world's increasing energy needs and demands within the environmental, economic, and national security constraints today. Our faculty are conducting active research programs and projects in electric and magnetic field computation, electrical transients and switching technology, power system analysis and optimization, energy harvesting electromechanical devices, photovoltaic devices and systems, and semiconductor power devices and electronics. Power electronics and electromechanics play critical roles in ensuring energy security and achieving high energy efficiency. These energy converters provide the foundation for the utilization and integration of renewable energy resources, and enable energy-efficient technologies such as solid-state lighting, variable-speed motor drives, and more-electric transportation systems. Current interests and research activities include smart power semiconductor devices and ICs; efficient ac-dc and dc-dc power conversion for IT, lighting and other electronics applications; renewable energy systems and smart grids; autonomous and mobile power systems and vibration-based energy harvesting systems enabled by power electronics; as well as multilevel modeling and analysis of complex power electronics and electromechanical systems.
Electrophysical Devices and Systems . The discovery of new devices and improvement of existing ones led to the modern electronic industry. These new devices are the basic building blocks of any new systems that positively impact our daily lives. Many of our faculty work in developing such new devices using cutting edge technology and then employ them in building state of the art systems. State of the art laboratory facilities and a clean room are available to carry out advanced study and research in these areas.
One of the new projects involves investigation of a new regime of transistor operation in the terahertz range using the excitation and rectification of plasma waves in the transistor channel. Several specialized laboratories are available that are equipped to meet industrial standards for advanced research techniques. The electronic materials laboratory includes several state-of-the-art bulk crystal growth systems, wafer slicing and chemical-mechanical polishing facilities, liquid phase epitaxy system for multilayer hetero-epitaxial growth, and cold wall epitaxial reactors for the growth of single crystal III-V, II-VI semiconductors.
Lighting Sciences and Systems. We are at the threshold of a new era in how humankind harnesses the enormous capabilities of light. We are developing light sources based on semiconductors that exhibit very high efficiency as well as detailed controllability. The controllability, by design or by real-time tunability, includes the emission spectrum, the color temperature, the polarization, the spatial emission pattern, and the temporal modulation. The controllability of semiconductor-based smart lighting sources based on the dynamic environmental characteristics of where they are deployed is a unique feature that is not shared by any other light source.
In contrast to conventional light sources, the efficiency of semiconductor-based solid-state lighting devices is not determined by fundamental limits. Instead the efficiency of solid-state lighting devices is limited only by our own creativity. Overcoming current limitations enables solid-state lighting devices to be up to 20 times more efficient than conventional light bulbs. As a result, gigantic quantities of energy and financial resources could be saved by the global introduction of solid-state lighting. In addition, solid-state lighting technology can dramatically reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, acid-rain gases and highly toxic mercury. An equally important aspect of solid-state lighting devices is their ability to be tunable, interactive, responsive, and intelligent, thereby making them truly smart devices.