News

Assistant Professor Jon Schuller receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

February 26th, 2015

photo of jon schuller
Schuller to use the award to study how light interacts with certain materials, particularly those with complex and asymmetric molecular arrangements, such as plastics.

“Getting the CAREER Award is a great honor,” said Schuller. “It’s a great validation for me and my work as a young researcher.”

The award, which amounts to $500,000 over five years, will allow Schuller and his research group to examine the interactions between light and possible alternative semiconducting materials. Whereas conventional photonic (light-manipulating) materials such as silicon crystals tend to exhibit uniform optical behaviors in all directions (isotropic), other materials, including plastics, have optical properties that differ by direction (anisotropic).

Schuller’s research group will focus on examining the complex optical properties of organic (carbon-based) materials such as plastics. Their findings could in turn lead to developments that could enhance the performance of organic photonic devices. Additionally, the research could open new doors to the manufacture of low-cost, lightweight and flexible semiconductors that can harness and manipulate light for various applications.

The UCSB Current (full article)

Schuller Lab

Schuller's bio

Materials professor Chris Van de Walle is the first researcher to hold the Kroemer Chair in Materials Science

February 19th, 2015

photo of chris van de wall

Endowment named after Herbert Kroemer, UCSB emeritus professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and of Materials and 2000 Nobel Laureate

The development of the bright white light-emitting diode (LED) signaled the beginning of the end for the incandescent bulb, which, at only five percent efficiency, emits far more in heat than light.

But, even with the LED’s phenomenal 50 percent efficiency, can the cooler-burning, longer-lasting LED bulb be made even better? UC Santa Barbara materials professor Chris Van de Walle thinks it might be possible. And that is the kind of research he looks forward to pursuing as the first person named to UCSB’s newly established Kroemer Chair in Materials Science.

“I’m extremely honored,” said Van de Walle. “I’m a great admirer of Herbert Kroemer, and I feel very privileged to be chosen to be the inaugural recipient of the chair that bears his name.”

The UCSB Current "Lighting the Way" (full article)

Van de Walle's Computational Materials Group

Herb Kroemer — 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics

Professor Yuan Xie and graduate student, Shuangchen Li, win best paper award at the 21st International Symposium on HPCA

February 12th, 2015

photos of xie and li
21st International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA) is one of the top computer architecture conference

HPCA provides a high-quality forum for scientists and engineers to present their latest research findings in this rapidly-changing field. This year 51 papers were accepted out of 228 submissions. Xie and Li’s paper titled “Architecture Exploration for Ambient Energy Harvesting Nonvolatile Processors” was selected as the Best Paper Award Winner. This work is a collaboration with Penn State University and Tsinghua University.

Shuangchen Li is a first-year Ph.D. student in ECE department at UCSB. He received his MS and BS degree from Tsinghua University.

21st IEEE Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture

Yuan Xie Group

UCSB ECE Alumna, Cynthia Breazeal, interviewed by TechRepublic about her career path and social robotics research

February 11th, 2015

photo of cynthia breazeal
MIT robotics lab director and creator of Jibo, the first family robot, Cynthia Breazeal, talked to TechRepublic about her career path and her vision for robotics.

Cynthia Breazeal had an epiphany after NASA landed Sojourner on Mars. It was one of the greatest successes of robotics in history, and at that moment, she realized the world had sent robots into the depths of the ocean, into volcanoes, and catapulted them into space.

But where were they in people’s lives? Where were they in the home?

She knew that building a robot that could deal with the human environment would be much more challenging than a robot that could navigate rock field landscapes — not that rocks were ever easy, but home life is much more complex.

“There are people and pets, minds, thoughts and beliefs and emotions, and robots need to be able to interact with them,” Breazeal said. “No one was looking at that problem. What would it mean to build a robot with social and emotional intelligence that can ultimately do things in collaboration with people?”

Breazeal is known as one of the pioneers and leaders of social robotics, having had a hand in the creation of the first social robot, Kismet, made in the late 1990s. She currently leads MIT’s Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group, and is the founder of Jibo, the world’s first family robot.

Though she planned on becoming a doctor, her parents convinced her to pursue a degree in electrical and computer engineering at UC Santa Barbara. It so happened that around the time she attended, the school had started a robotics lab. Her fascination with Star Wars stayed with her through college, so she began taking more robotics classes. Then she read an article about planetary rovers and decided she might want to be an astronaut. So, Breazeal applied to graduate schools to get a doctorate in space robotics. She decided on MIT, where she would earn her ScD and MS degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.

To learn more about Breazeal’s research, career path, company Jibo, work & home life and “In Her Own Words” interview read “Cynthia Breazeal: Social robotics pioneer. MIT lab leader. Proud mom.” at TechRepublic.

MIT Media Lab

Breazeal's Personal Robotics Group

Jibo (website)

Professor Jim Buckwalter receives the 2015 IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) Outstanding Young Engineer Award

January 28th, 2015

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Buckwalter receives the award for “outstanding early career contributions to the microwave profession”

The IEEE MTT-S Outstanding Young Engineer Award award recognizes an outstanding young MTT-S member who has distinguished himself/herself through a sequence of achievements which may be technical (within the MTT-S Field of Interest), may constitute exemplary service to the MTT-S, or may be a combination of both.

The award will be conferred at the annual Society Awards Banquet to be held during the International Microwave Symposium the week of 17-22 May 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.

IEEE MTT-S Outstanding Young Engineer Award

ECE Associate Professor Michael Liebling is co-recipient of the Northrop Grumman “Excellence in Teaching Award”

January 15th, 2015

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Liebling is co-recipient with Chemical Engineering’s Matt Helgeson.

The “Excellence in Teaching Award” is given annually on several campuses by Northrop Grumman. The award honors faculty members who demonstrate a commitment to high teaching standards.

Michael Liebling is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He received the MS in Physics (2000) and PhD in image processing (2004) from EPFL, Switzerland. From 2004 to 2007, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar in Biology at the California Institute of Technology, before joining the faculty in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSB in 2007.

Research in his lab focuses on biological microscopy and image processing for the study of dynamic biological processes and, more generally, computational methods for optical imaging.

He teaches both at the graduate and undergraduate level in the areas of signal processing, image processing and biological microscopy. Courses Liebling instructs include:

Undergraduate Level:

  • Signal Analysis and Processing (ECE 130A)
  • Applications of Signal Analysis and Processing (ECE 148)
  • Digital Signal Processing (ECE 158)
  • Introduction to Digital Image and Video Processing (ECE 178)

Graduate Level:

  • Multirate Digital Signal Processing – aka Wavelets (ECE 258B)
  • Principles of Biological Microscopy (ECE 278B)
  • Computational Bio-Microscopy (ECE 594Q)

CoE News Release

Liebling's Systems Bioimaging Lab

Professor Shuji Nakamura receives the 2015 Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering

January 6th, 2015

photo of shuji nakamura

The Draper Prize is the National Academy of Engineering’s highest honor. Nakamura shares the prize with four other pioneers of LED lighting — Isamu Akasaki, George Craford, Russell Dupuis, and Nick Holonyak, Jr.

UCSB materials professor and 2014 Nobel Laureate Shuji Nakamura has been awarded the Draper Prize for Engineering by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Nakamura, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCSB, will share the prize with four other recipients also deemed by the NAE as pioneers of LED lighting.

“I am honored to receive the Charles Stark Draper Prize along with the other pioneers in LED technology,” said Nakamura.

Nakamura has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and honors, including the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, for his invention of the first high-brightness blue LED, which led to the invention of the ubiquitous and energy-efficient bright white LED. A member of the UCSB faculty since 2000, Nakamura also won Japan’s Order of Culture Award in 2014. Prior to that, he was the recipient of the 2009 Harvey Prize, the 2006 Millenium Technology Prize, and a 2011 Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Nakamura has also received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) Jack A. Morton Award and the IEEE Laser and Electro-Optics Society Engineering Achievement Award, as well as the Materials Research Society Medal, among other honors and medals.

“Great engineers imagine new things — and build them,” said Draper Laboratory president and CEO Kaigham J. Gabriel. “These LED pioneers created technologies that brought new light to our lives, spawning an industry that today boasts hundreds of thousands of jobs while making energy consumption more efficient.”

The UCSB Current (full article)

Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering (NAE website)

The Draper Prize website

Shuji Nakamura and other UCSB Nobel Laureates

Prof. Katie Byl’s Robotics Lab part of team featured in CNN article “NASA Designs Ape-like Robot for Disasters”

January 5th, 2015

photo of robosimian

UCSB ECE’s Robotics Lab and Caltech are part of the team working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a different kind of robot for disaster response that’s designed to move like an ape

The robot named “RoboSimian” is headless but covered with seven cameras that act as “eyes,” the RobotSimian has four identical limbs that do double duty as arms and legs. Together, they ably move the robot across rough terrain and rubble but can also pick up and manipulate objects. It has wheels it can coast on if the surface is smooth enough.

The RoboSimian is JPL’s final entry into the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a 27-month-long competition among some of the world’s top robotic talent to create an emergency response robot. In situations such as a nuclear disaster, one of these robots could go into environments too dangerous for human rescue workers and execute simple tasks such as lifting debris off survivors or turning off a valve.

In June, RoboSimian and up to 18 other finalists will have to make their way through an obstacle course that simulates eight common scenarios. Each robot will attempt to drive a car, move across rubble, use a tool and climb stairs, all without a human controlling it. DARPA says the final competitors should be as competent as a 2-year-old child. The winning team will receive a $2 million prize.

JPL used leftover parts from RoboSimian to create another robot called Surrogate. The more traditional upright robot has a flexible spine, head and two arms. While better at manipulating objects, Surrogate ran on tracks and wasn’t as adept at traversing the complicated terrain that is common in a disaster. After considering both candidates, the team decided to take RoboSimian to the finals.

One trade-off is that RoboSimian is slower than many other competitors. JPL’s team is working with the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Caltech to increase the robot’s walking speed.

“It is intentionally the tortoise relative to the other hares in the competition. We feel that a very stable and deliberate approach suites our technical strengths and provides a model for one vital element of the ‘ecosystem’ of robots that we expect to be deployed to disaster scenarios in the future,” said JPL’s Brett Kennedy, who is supervisor of the Robotic Vehicles and Manipulators Group.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is most known for designing robotics for space exploration, such as the Mars rovers. But the DARPA competition was an opportunity for the JPL group to take its existing robotics research and compare approaches directly to other talented teams.

CNN "NASA Designs Ape-like Robot for Disasters" (full article)

UCSB Robotics — Byl Group

ECE Professor Kaustav Banerjee elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS)

December 10th, 2014

photo of kaustav banerjee
Banerjee elected for “seminal applied physics research on nanoscale materials, devices, interconnects, and circuits towards realizing ultra-low power electronics.”

The criterion for election as an APS Fellow is exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise; e.g., outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one’s professional peers.

The membership of APS is diverse and global, and the Fellows of the APS should reflect that diversity. Fellowship nominations of women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and scientists from outside the United States are especially encouraged.

APS Fellows (webpage)

UCSB The Current (article)

Banerjee's Nanoelectronics Research Lab (NRL)

ECE Professor Yuan Xie named as an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow

December 2nd, 2014

photo of yuan xie
Xie elected for his for contributions to design automation and architecture of three-dimensional integrated circuits

Yuan Xie, Professor of ECE department, University of California, Santa Barbara, has been named an IEEE Fellow (class of 2015, effective 1 January 2015). He is being recognized for contributions to design automation and architecture of three-dimensional integrated circuits (3D ICs).

The IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one- percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.

Professor Xie is recognized as the world-class researcher in the areas of electronic design automation (EDA), computer architecture, VLSI design, and embedded systems. His most distinctive contributions lie in the revolutionary advances of design automation and architecture for three-dimensional integrated circuits (3D ICs), which offer new opportunities for system-level innovations that are not hinged only on technology scaling. He is recognized as the pioneer who have crossed traditional boundaries between architecture, design automation, and test for 3D ICs, and his cross-cutting research have made significant contributions to transform this emerging technology from research exploration to commercial adoption in semiconductor industry.

Prof Xie received BS degree and Ph.D. degree from Tsinghua University and Princeton University, respectively. He has worked for IBM and AMD, and was with Pennsylvania State University before joining UCSB in Fall 2014. He has published more than 200 scholarly articles in top journal and conference venues, and has received several Best Paper Awards (ICCAD, ASPDAC, ISLPED, ISVLSI, GLSVLSI) and several Best Paper Nominations (MICRO, HPCA, DATE, ASPDAC).

IEEE Fellow Program (webpage)

About Prof. Xie and his research group