News

ECE Professors Manjunath and Liebling part of Cal-BRAIN-funded project team to study the tunicate Ciona

May 14th, 2015

calcium transients in live Ciona CNS
William Smith, chair of UCSB’s Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Dept, awarded one of 16 inaugural Cal-BRAIN grants. Smith and researchers to study how the brain of a sea squirt receives and processes information.

Smith and his team will use the $120,000 seed funding to research the tunicate Ciona, a local sea squirt that shares similar physiology and anatomy with vertebrates. His project will simultaneously record the neural activity in all cells of this simple chordate’s nervous system.

The project will be a true team effort with contributors providing expertise in a number of areas, including transgenesis and Ciona imaging, computer vision, high-speed image capture and analysis, microfluidics and connectomics. In addition to the Smith Lab, other UCSB contributors include B.S. Manjunath, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the campus’s Center for Bio-image Informatics; Michael Liebling, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Dave Bothman, principal development engineer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Ian Meinertzhagen of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, will also play a key role in the electron microscope portion of the project.

The Cal-BRAIN awards support the development of new technologies to revolutionize the understanding of the brain 
in health and disease by improving the ability to monitor and analyze its activity.

UCSB's The Current "‘Thinking’ in Real Time" (full article)

Manjunath — Center for Bio-image Informatics

Liebling — Systems Bioimaging Lab

ECE Assistant Professor Dmitri Strukov’s research in UCSB The Current article “An Important Step in Artificial Intelligence”

May 12th, 2015

strukov and research group membes

Researchers in ECE’s Strukov Research Group are seeking to make computer brains smarter by making them more like our own

In what marks a significant step forward for artificial intelligence, researchers at UC Santa Barbara have demonstrated the functionality of a simple artificial neural circuit. For the first time, a circuit of about 100 artificial synapses was proved to perform a simple version of a typical human task: image classification.

“It’s a small, but important step,” said Dmitri Strukov, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. With time and further progress, the circuitry may eventually be expanded and scaled to approach something like the human brain’s, which has 1015 (one quadrillion) synaptic connections.

UCSB The Current — "An Important Step in Artificial Intelligence" (full article)

Strukov Research Group

Nature publishes ECE Assistant Professor Dmitri Strukov’s research on the memristor

May 8th, 2015

nature journal logo

The UCSB and Stony Brook U. research is a step toward building computers that operate more like the human brain

Electronic components called memristors have enabled a simple computing circuit to learn to perform a task from experience. After processing data during a training phase, the device classified 3-by-3-pixel images as one of three letters of the alphabet, researchers report in the May 7 Nature.

A memristor is a circuit element whose resistance depends on the past electrical pulses that surged through it. That’s similar to the way synapses work in the brain. Electrical engineer Dmitri Strukov at the University of California, Santa Barbara and colleagues created an image-classifying circuit made of 24 crisscrossing wires, with memristors slotted into each intersection point.

Future computers packed with memristors and transistors could excel at tasks such as pattern recognition that human brains tackle far more easily than today’s computers.

ScienceNews: "Resistors that remember help circuits learn" (article)

Nature: "Training and operation of an integrated neuromorphic network based on metal-oxide memristors"

Strukov Research Group

ECE Assistant Professor Dmitri Strukov’s research on the memristor featured in MIT Technology Review

May 7th, 2015

mit technology review logo
An electronic device developed by UCSB and Stony Brook University researchers called the memristor could be the best hope for making practical chips that borrow design points from the human brain

Memristors, exotic electronic devices only confirmed to exist in 2008, have been used to create a chip that borrows design points from the brain. The prototype chip did not learn to do anything more difficult than recognize extremely simple black-and-white patterns. But larger, more complex versions might make computers better at understanding speech, images, and the world around them.

The circuitry of the chip, built by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Stony Brook University, processes data not with digital logic circuits but with elements that mimic, in simplified form, the neurons and synapses of biological brains. When a network like that is exposed to new data, it “learns” as the synapses that connect neurons adjust the neurons’ influence on one another.

MIT Technology Review — "A Better Way to Build Chips" (full article)

Strukov's profile

Strukov Research Group

2014 Nobel laureate Shuji Nakamura gives UCSB public lecture on his prize-winning bright blue LED

May 5th, 2015

photo of shuji nakamura giving lecture
Professor Shuji Nakamura speaks to a rapt crowd on April 28th at the public lecture at UCSB’s Campbell Hall that covered the technology and innovation behind his Nobel Prize-winning invention of the bright blue LED

“It was very simple, no?” joked Nakamura, downplaying the sheer amount of effort it took to go from being an engineer with an idea at a small Japanese company to becoming the inventor of the bright blue LED, an innovation that led to the white LED and a global revolution in energy efficiency.

While LED lighting has been in use since its inception in the 1960s, the technology had limited application, which grew as more light-emitting diodes were developed in different colors of the spectrum. For decades, the blue LED remained elusive and the most difficult to create until 1993, when Nakamura debuted his blue LED, demonstrating the brightest blue light that had been developed at the time.

Today, LED lighting is ubiquitous, from screen displays to interior lighting. Coupled with solar cells, white-light LEDs have been fashioned into durable, clean-burning, energy efficient and economical light sources for schoolchildren in poverty-stricken off-the-grid environments by the UCSB-affiliated nonprofit Unite to Light.

There’s more to come, said Nakamura…

Meanwhile, materials professor Steve DenBaars, who is also co-director of the campus’s Solid State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center (SSLEEC), announced that, in response to the need for better lighting in Isla Vista, he and Nakamura will be donating personal funds to an effort to bring LED lighting to the streets of the nearby community.

The UCSB Current (full article)

Shuji Nakamura and other UCSB Nobel laureates

Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics Center

UC Santa Barbara Community Unites for IV Tragedy Remembrance Events

May 5th, 2015

gaucho strong ribbon
The UC Santa Barbara community has collaborated to plan several events to mark the one-year anniversary of the tragedy in Isla Vista on May 23, 2014.

With a focus on remembering and honoring the lost and the injured, on healing and on solidarity, these events are all open to the public.

Event information is subject to change.

ECE graduate student Nikhil Chacko receives Best Student Paper Award at ISBI

May 4th, 2015

photo of nikhil chacko
Chacko, a grad student in Michael Liebling’s lab, received a Best Student Paper Award (sponsored by Amazon and the IEEE Journal on Biomedical and Health Informatics) at the IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Imaging held 16-19 April 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Chacko’s paper, co-authored with Kevin Chan and Liebling, is entitled “Intensity-Based Point-Spread-Function-Aware Registration for Multi-View Applications in Optical Microscopy.”

ISBI is an annual conference co-sponsored by the IEEE Signal Processing Society (SPS) and the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS). It covers algorithmic, mathematical and computational aspects of biomedical imaging. In 2015, ISBI received 705 paper submissions (381 accepted) and was attended by some 600 participants. Four papers were selected for the Best Student Paper Awards among 18 finalists, after presentation at the conference.

International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging (ISBI 2015)

ISBI Best Student Paper Awards

Liebling's Systems Bioimaging Lab

Professor Shuji Nakamura named a 2015 Global Energy Prize Laureate

April 23rd, 2015

photo of shuji nakamura
Nakamura receives the prestigious Russian prize for invention, commercialization and development of energy efficient white LED lightning technology

“I am so pleased that the Global Energy Prize committee has recognized my breakthrough work on InGaN LEDs, which has led to energy-efficient white LED lighting,” said Nakamura, who was one of three 2014 Nobel Prize winners in physics for the invention of the bright blue LED. This was an innovation that would lead to the creation of the white LED and the ability to save energy, reduce carbon emissions and provide a low energy, durable and sustainable light source for those with little or no access to electricity.

“We are so proud to congratulate our colleague Shuji Nakamura on this prestigious recognition as a Global Energy Prize Laureate,” said UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “The applications and consequences of his pioneering work in solid-state lighting continue to grow, with far-reaching impact on fields ranging from information and communication, to energy and the environment, to health care and life sciences. By making it possible to bring affordable, energy-efficient lighting to developing countries, Professor Nakamura has made a tremendous humanitarian contribution to our world.”

The UCSB Current (full article)

Global Energy Prize

Shuji Nakamura and other UCSB Nobel Laureates

ECE Assistant Professor Dmitri Strukov interviewed by MIT Technology Review about the memristor and HP’s “The Machine”

April 22nd, 2015

“MIT

In 2008 HP’s Dr. Stanley Williams’ research group created a tiny electronic device called the memristor, inventing a promising new form of data storage. He says the memristor will offer an unrivaled combination of speed, density, and energy efficiency.

CTO Martin Fink has put most of HP’s researchers to work on a new design for computers based on memristor memory and HP Enterprise is working on this risky research project in hopes of driving a remarkable comeback. Nearly three-quarters of the people in HP’s research division are now dedicated to a single project: a powerful new kind of computer known as “The Machine.” It would fundamentally redesign the way computers function, making them simpler and more powerful. If it works, the project could dramatically upgrade everything from servers to smartphones—and save HP itself.

Strukov, one of Williams’s former collaborators at HP, says memristors have yet to pass a key test. Strukov, an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and lead author on the 2008 paper announcing the memristor, says that while technical publications released by HP and SK Hynix have shown that individual memristors can be switched trillions of times without failing, it’s not yet clear that large arrays perform the same way. “That’s nontrivial,” he says.

MIT Technology Review "Machine Dreams" (Full Article)

Asst. Prof. Strukov's website

Strukov Research Group

Professor Kaustav Banerjee selected by National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

April 13th, 2015

frontiers of engineering logo
Banerjee one of only 60 engineers selected by the National Academy of Engineering to attend its prestigious German-American Frontiers of Engineering (GAFOE) Symposium in Potsdam, Germany, from April 16-18

The Frontiers of Engineering (FOE) program brings together through 2-1/2 day meetings a select group of emerging engineering leaders from industry, academia, and government labs to discuss pioneering technical work and leading edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors. Participation in the FOE symposia is by invitation only following a competitive nomination and selection process.

The GAFOE program was started in 1998. Since then, GAFOE symposia have been held every year in locations alternating between Germany and the United States. The GAFOE program is carried out in cooperation with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Professor Banerjee who directs the Nanoelectronics Research Lab, is internationally recognized as a visionary and a leading innovator in the field of nanoelectronics.

NAE’s Frontiers of Engineering Program

German-American Frontiers of Engineering (GAFOE) Symposium

Nanoelectronics Research Lab