ECE Distinguished Lecture: Optical Communications Systems: What Drove Their Evolutionary Path?

The evolution of lightwave communications systems from Megabits to Terabits was not a haphazard journey. In fact, it can be argued that there was only one available evolutionary path, driven by a once esoteric optical phenomenon found in silica fibers. Anecdotal evidence of this perhaps controversial assertion will be presented.

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The Quantum Limit on Coherence of the Semiconductor Lasers: Theory – Experiment

The talk will describe the theory, design, fabrication, and the experimental results of an effort that led to a new type of hybrid Si/III-V semiconductor (SCL) laser with a linewidth below 1 KHz. This result is nearly 3 orders of magnitude better (smaller linewidth) than that of commercial SC lasers.

Other key parameters relevant to coherence such as the phase/amplitude coupling constant αand the relaxation resonance frequency are reduced by more than an order of magnitude. The fabrication employed is CMOS compatible making the new laser integrable with electronic circuits and potentially enabling a new generation of communication, time-keeping, and sensing applications.

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Quantum Random Flip-Flop And Its Applications

A new type of binary elementary logic circuit will be presented: the random flip-flop (RFF). Unlike conventional Boolean logic circuits whose action is intentionally made deterministic and highly reproducible, action of the RFF is intentionally random and, in the proposed realization, derived from the fundamentally random quantum process of emission and detection of light. By definition, RFF operates as a conventional flip-flop except that its clock input functions with probability of 1/2 otherwise it does nothing. Seemingly simple, this circuit features surprising richness of possible applications both analog and digital, including: random number generation, cryptography, spurious-free frequency synthesis, white noise generation, randomness preserving frequency division, random frequency synthesis, over-Turing computing and bio-inspired massively parallel computing. RFF has been realized in a hybrid technique and some of the first experimental results will be presented. A possibility and advantages of realizing quantum RFF on a chip will be discussed.

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Brain-Inspired Computing beyond von Neumann

The brain is characterized by extreme power efficiency, fault tolerance, compactness and the ability to develop and to learn. It can make predictions from noisy and unexpected input data. Any artificial system implementing all or some of those features is likely to have a large impact on the way we process information.

With the increasingly detailed data from neuroscience and the availability of advanced VLSI process nodes the dream of building physical models of neural circuits on a meaningful scale of complexity is coming closer to realization. Such models deviate strongly from classical processor-memory based numerical machines as the two functions merge into a massively parallel network of almost identical cells.

The lecture will introduce current projects worldwide and the approach proposed by the EU Human Brain Project to establish a systematic path from biological data, simulations on supercomputers and systematic reduction of cell complexity to derived neuromorphic hardware implementations with a very high degree of configurability.

Concrete hardware implementations and recent results obtained with current neuromorphic system realizations will be presented.

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Correlations and Photon Statistics in Nanocavity Emitters

Nanofabrication advances have reduced size and improved quality of optical cavities, resulting in the realization of nano-dimensioned emitters. Technological motivation for miniaturizing lasers comes from applications where reducing power consumption is a priority. The scientific motivation involves generation of nonclassical light, enabled by a nanocavity operating with one to few quantum dots. Nonclassical light sources, especially single-photon sources, are important to quantum computing and communication.

This talk describes quantum-optical approaches to analyzing nanocavity emission. Two applications of the approaches are discussed. The first concerns the claim of thresholdless lasing, which resulted in much debate over the criteria for lasing and lasing threshold. The second involves single-photon generation and the question regarding the widely used photon correlation, g(2)(0), as an accurate measure of performance. An answer is useful, e.g., when discussing single-photon source versus strongly-attenuated laser beam for quantum-key distribution. The former is the ideal source, while the latter is the presently often-used substitute.

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

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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)
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Radio Resource Management in (5G) Heterogeneous Networks

Radio resource management is of central importance in emerging heterogeneous networks. As the size of cells continues to shrink, traffic variations over time in a given cell become increasingly pronounced. Adapting resource allocation across cells to their traffic conditions is both rewarding and challenging. In this talk, we describe a framework for modeling the topology of a multi-cell system, the dynamic traffic, user association, and radio resource allocation in a relatively slow timescale. We formulate convex and nonconvex optimization problems that can be solved efficiently to minimize the average packet sojourn time in a network of up to 100 cells. Simulation shows significant throughput and delay advantages over optimized static allocation schemes.

(This is joint work with Binnan Zhuang, Michael L. Honig, and Ermin Wei at Northwestern University.)

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CNSE- SUNY Polytechnic Institute: A Nanoelectronics Overview

One approach to the role of universities in economic development involves a close collaboration between universities and State government, enabling the settlement of established companies at or close to campuses, typically via science or industrial parks. Here, physical proximity of commercial enterprises allows the use of university infrastructures as well as the training and recruitment of specialized skills needed by the companies. At CNSE, this approach has been used extensively with an initial focus on nano-electronics and will be described using specific consortia examples.

The capabilities of the CNSE campus will be detailed using the challenges to the traditional scaling model as the theme. The nanoelectronics industry has enjoyed decades of productivity gains driven by lithographic scaling. However, scaling slowed due to delays in the introduction of extreme ultraviolet (EUV). New materials were introduced which help to drive increases in performance or reductions in power consumption. However, to maintain the pace of die-level cost reduction, two other approaches are being pursued, a transition in wafer size to 450mm and chip stacking. All three face the challenge of becoming cost-effective prior to wide-spread adoption. Lastly, the equipment industry is challenged to develop novel materials solutions as required for device scaling in parallel for 300mm and 450mm.

The first generation of EUV production scanners will be used for development of sub-10nm technology node CMOS, as well as to support advanced resist and mask development. Chip stacking technologies, either via interposers (“2.5D”) or chip stacks (“3D”), are being developed, yet no standard integration scheme has emerged yet due to constraints in yield management or limitations in equipment cost of ownership. The timely availability of novel materials in conjunction with a manufacturable process is critical for continued scaling. The recent re-assessment by G450C of the likely CMOS node for the wafer transition opens up a new set of process options to evaluate, based on the industry introduction of materials needed for sub-10nm CMOS.

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

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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)

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

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.

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