News

ECE graduate student Junkai Jiang’s Ph.D. Student Fellowship from IEEE EDS covered in The UCSB Current article “Pushing Past Limits”

March 15th, 2019

photo of jiang with award
Ph.D. Student Jiang awarded the prestigious student fellowship in the broad area of electron devices from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Electron Devices Society (EDS)

The steady improvement of the performance and versatility of our electronic systems is due in large part to the scaling-down of transistors and interconnects that drive them. Components on the chips have been shrunk, stacked and more densely packed to add increased functionality without expanding the systems’ small footprints.

But the smaller, denser arrangements present their own set of challenges, and electronics engineers and designers everywhere are trying to find ways to overcome the resulting degradation in performance, reliability and energy efficiency – and doctoral student Junkai Jiang is one of those people.

Jiang’s work centers on interconnects — the conducting channels of electronic signal and power between and through components. Interconnects play a dominant role in determining the performance and power-dissipation of all integrated circuits, including state-of-the-art microprocessors. As the dimensions of on-chip components have scaled down and their number has increased, the conventional copper wire interconnects have also had to shrink, causing them to hit limits in terms of their ability to conduct signal and power rapidly, reliably and without interference. As a result, the systems may slow down, overheat and drain their batteries sooner than expected.

The answer to this problem could come in the form of graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon with interesting and valuable electronic properties.

“My research is focused on designing and fabricating fast, energy-efficient and highly reliable on-chip interconnects and passives uniquely enabled by low-dimensional carbon nanomaterials such as graphene,” Jiang explained.

Graphene, with its atom-thick dimension and electronic conduction properties, has emerged as a viable replacement for copper wire interconnects primarily driven by his advisor, ECE Professor Kaustav Banerjee over the past decade. But its ability to revolutionize modern electronics is directly related to the ease of large-scale manufacture, which also is a thrust of Jiang’s research.

“Supported by this award, I have been working on integrating graphene in the high-volume-manufacturing friendly or ‘CMOS-compatible’ process and its application in demonstrating a multilayer VLSI (Very Large Scale Integrated Circuit) interconnect scheme to establish its feasibility for the semiconductor industry,” Jiang added.

“I offer sincere congratulations to Junkai Jiang for receiving this prestigious award, and to Professor Banerjee for the support that is indispensable to such achievement,” said Rod Alferness, dean of the UC Santa Barbara College of Engineering. “Given to only a single student in the Americas and only three in the world, this award is a major testament not only to Junkai, but also to the kind of students we attract at UCSB and the pioneering spirit they bring to tackling important problems.”

According to Professor Banerjee, “Junkai’s achievements in his research are certainly most deserving of this honor.” Jiang joined Banerjee’s Nanoelectronics Research Lab (NRL) in 2012 as a dual M.S./Ph.D. student after completing his bachelor of science degree in microelectronics at Peking University in China.

The UCSB Current – "Pushing Past Limits" (full article)

IEEE Electron Devices Society Ph.D. Student Fellowship Award

Banerjee’s Nanoelectronics Research Lab (NRL)

ECE postdoctoral scholar Chunfeng Cui selected to participate in the 2019 Rising Stars in Computational and Data Sciences workshop

February 15th, 2019

photo of Chunfeng CuiCui selected as one of 32 women from top-tier U.S. universities to participate in the workshop held at UT Austin’s Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES)

Rising Stars is an academic and research career workshop for women graduate students and postdocs who are interested in pursuing academic and research careers. Originally launched at MIT in 2012, Rising Stars events have been hosted in many different fields at institutions across the world. The first Rising Stars event in Computational and Data Sciences will bring the selected researchers together to network and for presentations, poster sessions and interactive discussions.

Chunfeng Cui’s research activities are mainly focused in the areas of tensor computing, uncertainty quantification, machine learning, and their interface. She has been working on tensor data analysis by convex and non-convex optimization, high-dimensional uncertainty quantification with non-Gaussian correlations for electronic and photonics IC, and theoretical structural analysis of deep learning. She is the recipient of the 2018 Best Paper Award of IEEE Electrical Performance of Electronic Packaging and Systems (EPEPS) and the Best Journal Paper Award of Scientia Sinica Mathematica.

Cui received her Ph.D. degree in computational mathematics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China in 2016 with a specialization in numerical optimization for tensor data analysis. From 2016 to 2017, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. In 2017, she joined Professor Zheng Zhang’s group as a Postdoctoral Scholar in UC, Santa Barbara’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

The 2019 Rising Stars in Computational and Data Sciences workshop will be held from April 9 to April 10, 2019 and is hosted by UT Austin ICES and Sandia National Laboratories.

2019 Rising Stars in Computational and Data Sciences

The Zhang Group

ECE Professor Yuan Xie receives the 10-Year Retrospective Most Influential Paper Award at ASP-DAC 2019

February 8th, 2019

photo of yuan xie with the award
Professor Yuan Xie and his former student Xiangyu Dong receive the award at the 2019 Asia and South-Pacific Design Automation Conference (ASP-DAC’19)

The award was given in Tokyo, Japan on Jan. 22, 2019 for the paper titled “System-level cost analysis and design exploration for three-dimensional integrated circuits (3D ICs)” published in ASP-DAC in 2009. The original paper was also recognized as the Best Paper Candidate in ASP-DAC 2009.

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 was elevated to IEEE Fellow (class of 2015) for contributions to design automation and architecture of three-dimensional integrated circuits.

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 (HPCA, ICCAD, ASPDAC, ISLPED, ISVLSI, GLSVLSI) and several Best Paper Nominations (MICRO, DATE, ASPDAC).

ASP-DAC 2019 is the 24th annual international conference on VLSI design automation in Asia and South Pacific region, one of the most active regions of design and fabrication of silicon chips in the world. The conference aims at providing the Asian and South Pacific CAD/DA and Design community with opportunities of presenting recent advances and with forums for future directions in technologies related to Electronic Design Automation (EDA). ASP-DAC intends to cultivate and promote interactions and presentations of novel ideas among EDA researchers/developers and system/circuit/device-level designers.

2019 Asia and South-Pacific Design Automation Conference (ASP-DAC’19)

ASP-DAC 2019 – 10-Year MIP

More about Xie's research: The UCSB Current – "Better, Faster, Smaller"

Xie's COE Profile

ECE Professor Dan Blumenthal and researchers work on a chip-scale laser with linewidth of less than 1 Hz covered in The UCSB Current article “‘Quiet’ Light”

January 24th, 2019

optical dynamics inside the laser ring cavity of the new Brillouin laser

Researchers describe a laser capable of emitting light quiet enough to move demanding scientific applications to the chip scale

Spectrally pure lasers lie at the heart of precision high-end scientific and commercial applications, thanks to their ability to produce near-perfect single-color light. A laser’s capacity to do so is measured in terms of its linewidth, or coherence, which is the ability to emit a constant frequency over a certain period of time before that frequency changes.

In practice, researchers go to great lengths to build highly coherent, near-single-frequency lasers for high-end systems such as atomic clocks. Today, however, because these lasers are large and occupy racks full of equipment, they are relegated to applications based on bench tops in the laboratory.

There is a push to move the performance of high-end lasers onto photonic micro-chips, dramatically reducing cost and size while making the technology available to a wide range of applications including spectroscopy, navigation, quantum computation and optical communications. Achieving such performance at the chip scale would also go a long way to address the challenge posed by the internet’s exploding data-capacity requirements and the resulting increase in worldwide energy consumption of data centers and their fiber-optic interconnects.

The UCSB Current – “‘Quiet’ Light” (full article)

Nature Photonics – "Sub-hertz fundamental linewidth photonic integrated Brillouin laser

Blumenthal's COE Profile

Blumenthal's Optical Communications and Photonic Integration Group (OCPI)

ECE Assistant Professor Mahnoosh Alizadeh receives a Northrop Grumman Excellence in Teaching Award

January 2nd, 2019

photo of Mahnoosh Alizadeh
UCSB COE assistant professors Alizadeh (ECE) and Paolo Luzzatto-Fegiz (ME) co-recipients of the award for junior faculty in STEM fields who have demonstrated excellence in their teaching techniques, activities, and lectures, as well as in their interactions with students, colleagues, and staff

Alizadeh joined the ECE Department in November 2016 after completing postdoctoral studies at Stanford University. Her research interests include technologies for integrating renewable energy, and designing scalable and decentralized control and economic mechanisms to optimize the energy grid. She says that receiving an award based on student input makes this recognition even more special.

“I try to help everyone achieve their potential,” said Alizadeh, director of the Smart Infrastructure Systems Laboratory. “Our students come from different backgrounds and have different starting points, but with the right help and guidance, they all have excellent potential. My philosophy is to always provide encouragement if I see a student trying their best, even if they are not doing very well in class. It’s the improvement curve that matters.”

The most important responsibility of a professor, according to Alizadeh, is providing students with opportunities for growth.

“Seeing students challenge themselves when presented with exciting learning or research opportunities and watching their extraordinary academic and social growth have been the biggest joys of my career at UCSB,” she said.

COE News – "Two Engineering Junior Faculty Receive Excellence in Teaching Award" (full article)

Alizadeh's COE Profile

Rod Alferness, Dean of UCSB’s College of Engineering and ECE faculty member, named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

December 14th, 2018

photo of xxxx
Alferness joins 147 other renowned academic inventors for the NAI’s class of 2018, individuals who hail from research universities and from government and non-profit research institutes across the nation

Some of the best inventions are the ones you don’t even know you’re using; so integrated in current technology, they are a seamless part of your daily life. So it is for the estimated 3.2 billion of us who rely on the internet for instant communication, education, entertainment and simply to stay connected to the world — using a variety of media, it all comes naturally with the push of a button.

Twenty years ago, however, the idea of such rapid communications was nothing more than a dream. Reality consisted of slow-loading websites, delayed messages, unreliable signals and unreadable files. The fiberoptic information superhighway was still coming into its own, and scientists and engineers realized that to satisfy the skyrocketing demand for true high-speed data transmission, they’d have to exploit the properties of light to their fullest extent.

Rod Alferness, the Dean of the UCSB College of Engineering and an ECE faculty member, was among that forward-thinking group. With his colleagues at Bell Labs at the time, he worked to enhance the emerging optical telecommunications infrastructure with devices and architecture that not only eliminated the bottleneck on the information superhighway, but also vastly improved its capacity.

Among Alferness’s most notable accomplishments is his work with wavelength-division-multiplexed networks, which allow data to be sent back and forth through a single fiber via different wavelengths (colors) of light. His research led to development of titanium-diffused lithium niobate waveguide modulators, now standard devices in fiber optic transmission systems worldwide — and one of the reasons we can today chat, stream, search, conduct business, work remotely and generally stay connected online, in real-time. Such capability has opened the doors to new commerce, a modernized workforce and new avenues of expression and communication.

Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction bestowed upon academic inventors who have, according to the NAI, “demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”

“Our campus is excited to collectively congratulate Dean Alferness on his election to the National Academy of Inventors, a proud recognition of his innovation and creativity at the forefront of engineering in the interest of humanity,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “Rod’s leading research has been central to the development of fiber optic communications networks across the globe — just one example of his many contributions to society.”

“I am both highly honored and deeply humbled by this recognition,” Alferness said upon learning the news. “The National Academy of Inventors includes so many marvelous people whose shared spirit of fearless innovation has inspired me throughout my career. To be recognized among such company is extremely gratifying.”

The Richard A. Auhll Professor and Dean of UC Santa Barbara’s College of Engineering, Alferness leads one of the world’s consistently top-rated and productive engineering schools. The campus generates an average of 90 invention disclosures annually, the majority of which come from one of the college’s five disciplines and world-class facilities.

Alferness and the other new fellows will be inducted at NAI’s Eighth Annual Meeting, to be held in Houston, Texas, April 10-11, 2019.

The UCSB Current – "A Prolific Spirit of Innovation" (full article)

Alferness's COE Profile

ECE Professor Joao Hespanha’s research featured in COE Convergence Fall 2018 article “Toward a Secure Electrical Grid”

December 14th, 2018

illustration of locked electrical grid
UCSB professor João Hespanha suggests a way to protect autonomous grids from potentially crippling GPS spoofing attacks

Not long ago, getting a virus was about the worst thing computer users could expect in terms of system vulnerability. But in our current age of hyper-connectedness and the emerging Internet of Things, that’s no longer the case. With connectivity, a new principle has emerged, one of universal concern to those who work in the area of systems control, like João Hespanha, a professor in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering at UC Santa Barbara. That law says, essentially, that the more complex and connected a system is, the more susceptible it is to disruptive cyber-attacks.

“It is about something much different than your regular computer virus,” Hespanha said. “It is more about cyber physical systems — systems in which computers are connected to physical elements. That could be robots, drones, smart appliances, or infrastructure systems such as those used to distribute energy and water.”

In a paper titled “Distributed Estimation of Power System Oscillation Modes under Attacks on GPS Clocks,” published this month in the journal IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, Hespanha and co-author Yongqiang Wang (a former UCSB postdoctoral research and now a faculty member at Clemson University) suggest a new method for protecting the increasingly complex and connected power grid from attack.

COE Convergence Fall 2018 – "Toward a Secure Electrical Grid" (full article)

COE Convergence Fall 2018 (full issue)

Hespanha's COE Profile

ECE Professor B.S. Manjunath selected as an Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellow

December 12th, 2018

photo of b.s. manjunathACM names two professors in UCSB’s College of Engineering, ECE Prof. B.S. Manjunath and CS Prof. Elizab​eth Belding, ACM Fellows for significant contributions during the digital age

A professor in the Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science Departments, Manjunath was honored for his contributions to image search and retrieval with applications in digital libraries, marine sciences, and biology. He serves as the director of UCSB’s Center for Multimodal Big Data Science and Healthcare, and his lab created BisQue, an image management and analysis platform that makes it easier to share and distribute large data sets and use them to collaborate. The platform manages imaging data for marine science, biology, materials science, and neuroscience. Manjunath is also a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Fewer than one percent of the association’s global members are selected as ACM Fellows. The fifty-six Fellows in this year’s class hail from the United States, Finland, Greece, Israel, Sweden, and Switzerland.

“The ACM Fellow program publicly recognizes the people who made key contributions to the technologies we enjoy,” said ACM President Cherri M. Pancake. “We are honored to add a new class of Fellows to ACM’s ranks, and we look forward to the guidance and counsel they will provide to our organization.”

The ACM will formally recognize its 2018 Fellows at the annual Awards Banquet in San Francisco on June 15, 2019.

COE News – “Belding and Manjunath Selected ACM Fellows” (full article)

Manjunath's COE Profile

Center for Multimodal Big Data Science and Healthcare

ECE Professor Umesh Mishra delivers UCSB Faculty Research Lecture: “Thank God for GaN”

December 6th, 2018

umesh mishra presenting at corwin pavilion
In the 63rd annual UCSB Faculty Research Lecture, delivered on November 26, Mishra explained to a large audience why we should, “Thank God for GaN” – the honor is the highest bestowed upon a UCSB professor in recognition of extraordinary scholarly distinction

After being introduced by Chancellor Henry Yang, Mishra spent the next hour explaining why he believes the semiconductor gallium nitride (GaN), which has been the subject of extensive research in the UCSB College of Engineering, is destined to replace silicon as the most important semiconductor material in the world. That would be especially good for UCSB, he added, because “We have pioneered the technologies of these materials.”

He began with recalling that Shuji Nakamura, while working in Japan before becoming a UCSB faculty member, used GaN to invent the blue LED in 1993, which enabled the white LED, which revolutionized lighting around the world and earned Nakamura a Nobel Prize.

“Shuji’s revolution with LED cannot be overstated,” Mishra said. “Efficiency is the best way to minimize the need to produce more power; it is key to a healthy planet. Over forty percent of electricity used now in the U.S. will be saved in 2030 by widespread deployment of LEDs.”

Since the blue LED emerged, GaN has enabled LED and laser lighting applications in consumer electronics, optical switches and circuits, lidar, medicine, space flight, and national defense. When the U.S. Navy needed better radar to identify missiles being launched from mountain caves, UCSB developed GaN-based radar, which was five times more powerful than existing systems. Now, twenty years later, Mishra explained, the Navy is switching its entire radar platform to be based on GaN.

Why does GaN work so well? One reason, Mishra said, is related to defects, known as “dislocations,” which are highly undesirable in most semiconducting materials, because they negatively affect performance. GaN is filled with dislocations, but because they are stable, materials scientists can design around the imperfections.

To have widespread application, Mishra said, “A semiconductor has to be high performance based on where it will be used. It has to be very reliable, and it has to get cheaper with every generation of an application.”

As a case in point, he noted, “LED lights were once twenty dollars each. Now they are about a dollar. The adoption of LEDS is one of fastest technological shifts in human history.

“We are all cost sensitive,” he continued. “People on Amazon don’t go for the highest-cost item. That applies to semiconductors, too. But to get low cost, you have to have wide market penetration. You cannot have only one application and hope for it to be low cost. It has to permeate all the application sets. I believe very strongly that GaN satisfies all these requirements.”

Read the full article from the COE News – “Umesh Mishra’s Faculty Research Lecture: ‘Thank God for GaN’

Related articles:

The UCSB Current – “GaN Rising” – Nov. 15, 2018

The UCSB Current – “The Next Big Challenge” – Apr 16, 2018

Mishra's COE profile

ECE Professor Umesh Mishra to deliver the 63rd Annual Faculty Research Lecture on Nov. 26th – “GaN Rising”

November 19th, 2018

photo of Umesh Mishra on the steps of the Engineering Science Bldg
On Monday, November 26th Mishra to deliver the 63rd Annual Faculty Research Lecture – the highest honor bestowed upon UC Santa Barbara professors in recognition of extraordinary scholarly distinction

The proliferation of electronic devices and the growing need to process large amounts of data are among the reasons why the world needs to marshal its energy resources wisely. Add to that the obsolescence of our conventional electrical grid, the emerging Internet of Things and the call to bring essential human requirements — such as light and agriculture — into the 21st century. Underlying those new technologies and energy-saving efforts is gallium nitride (GaN), a compound with unique and valuable electronic properties.

UC Santa Barbara electrical and computer engineering professor Umesh Mishra anticipated the need for higher performance and energy efficiency a long time ago. For decades he has focused his research primarily on the development of GaN materials and devices for electronics while contributing to opto-electronics such as optical data storage, semiconductor lasers and — last but not least — white LEDs pioneered by UCSB professor Shuji Nakamura, which have revolutionized lighting throughout the world. Due in part to Mishra’s efforts, GaN has now become the cornerstone for advanced, energy-efficient technologies including power electronics and RF electronics for radar and 4G and 5G communications.

Titled “Thank God for GaN,” Mishra’s lecture outlines the power of GaN to not only drive innovation but also to modernize existing technology, reduce power consumption and limit energy waste.

“Prof. Nakamura is the founder of the excitement that is GaN because of his Nobel Prize-winning breakthrough of the ubiquitous blue and white LED,” Mishra said. “Along with him and my other colleagues Steve DenBaars, Jim Speck and many others, we hope to create the second wave of excitement based on electronic devices with potential impact as broad as the photonic applications of GaN.”

The Donald W. Whittier Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Santa Barbara, Mishra joined the faculty in 1990 after an early career spent both in industry and in academia. He received his bachelor of technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, his master’s degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn., and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. He is an IEEE Fellow, an International Fellow of the Japanese Society of Applied Physics, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

The November 26th event, which will be held at Corwin Pavilion, is free and open to the public and begins with a reception at 4 p.m. followed by the lecture at 5:15 p.m.

The UCSB Current – "Gan Rising" (full article)

Mishra's COE Profile