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 Dmitry Strukov interviewed by MIT Technology Review about the memristor and HP’s “The Machine”

April 22nd, 2015


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

ECE Professor Jerry Gibson interviewed for Scientific American article on cell phone call quality

April 9th, 2015

scientific american logo

To understand problems with call quality and how they are being addressed, Scientific American interviewed Jerry Gibson, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Interview with UCSB ECE Prof. Jerry Gibson
(edited transcript)

Why is cell phone call quality so bad?
It is primarily the service providers. A key point to note is that the base station/base station controller, now called eNodeB [for Evolved Node B] in LTE, is all-powerful. That is, eNodeB makes all of the decisions about how much bandwidth each handset gets no matter how good a channel connection a handset may have. Also, base station behaviors are not standardized—that is, no one really knows how they are making these decisions. They take into account how loaded the cell site is and how loaded adjacent cell sites are, plus other network data and other things when allocating bandwidth. A couple of rules providers appear to follow are: Don’t drop a call in progress, and don’t block any new calls if at all possible. This means that the base station allocates bandwidth conservatively, and thus the voice codec in the handset may operate at a lower than desirable rate.

What is the big focus for service providers?
One—video is king these days, so video sucks up lots of bandwidth. For video, the service providers do not want you to have to wait for buffering, particularly after you have started to view a video. Second, cell sites/base stations cost money, so deployments of new cells are not done lightly. The latter leads to poor RF [radio frequency] connectivity in different areas for different providers.

What’s at stake if we continue to have terrible call quality?
I don’t think the service providers feel voice quality is their main problem today. They want traffic, and video is big traffic compared to voice. Video is expected to dominate mobile data in the future so it is important to their business. The current question of service providers is how to collect money per bit of data. What they say is: “How do we monetize video?”

What are some of the more promising projects aimed at improving call quality?
For the latest generation of cellular, LTE, a new voice codec is being developed. It is designated enhanced voice services [EVS]. It will cover variable [wider] bandwidths so it will be better for music and mixed voice and music content. It has many new codec rates, plus better VoIP [voice over Internet protocol] factors such as packet loss concealment [used to used to mask the disruptive effects of lost or discarded data packets] and jitter buffer management. [“Jitter” refers to variations in the length of time to deliver data packets.] But the standard will take awhile to get into deployments everywhere by service providers.

When fully deployed, LTE with EVS will be a big improvement—if video traffic does not take all of the bandwidth wherever you are, causing eNodeB to only allocate your voice call a low rate. In some ways the approach of service providers is understandable. No one wants a call dropped and no one wants their calls to be blocked [unable to get through]. Plus, video is something everyone appears to want on their mobile device.

Scientific American, "Why Is Cell Phone Quality So Terrible?" (full article)

Professor Gibson's ViVoNets Lab

Nanoelectronics Research Lab (NRL) researchers release compact model for atomically-thin transistors

April 2nd, 2015

image from NEEDS
Researchers from ECE’s Nanoelectronics Research Lab (NRL) have recently released the first physics-based SPICE compatible compact model for 2D material based transistors in collaboration with NEEDS deployed on

Two-dimensional (2D) and layered semiconductors belonging to the family of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMD) have emerged as promising channel materials for future unprecedented electronic, optoelectronic and sensor applications. 2D semiconducting TMDs offer several key advantages over bulk semiconductors (or 1D materials such as nanotubes and nanowires) with variable but uniform band gaps.

Besides, these atomically-thin TMDs have inherent flexibility and transparency, rendering them attractive to display electronics. These materials additionally have pristine surfaces that can boost device performance, especially in nanoscale transistors.

Compact models are essential for building circuits and systems. Recently, ECE researchers from the Nanoelectronics Research Lab, led by Professor Kaustav Banerjee have built the first detailed compact model specifically designed for such atomically-thin channel field-effect transistors (FETs). Their physics based and SPICE compatible compact model can be employed for efficient exploration of circuits based on 2D TMD FETs as well as for performance evaluation and optimization of such transistors. The UCSB 2D FET compact model provides a crucial platform for building future nanomodular systems based on emerging 2D layered materials.

The compact model has been released on the NEEDS (Nano-Engineered Electronic Device Simulation Node) website hosted by Purdue University’s nanoHub, by ECE PhD student and NRL member Wei Cao.

Nano-Engineered Electronic Device Simulation Node - NEEDS


Nanoelectronics Research Lab (NRL)

2014 Nobel laureate Shuji Nakamura to lecture on April 28th on the development of the bright blue LED

April 1st, 2015

photo of shuji nakamura
UCSB Materials / ECE professor and inventor of the bright blue LED, Shuji Nakamura to talk about the “Invention of Blue LED, Laser and Solid State Lighting.” The lecture will be at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Tuesday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have become ubiquitous, and are favored for their energy savings capability. In addition, their versatility makes them the lighting of choice for electronic devices, smart buildings, vehicles, displays, public areas and industrial and commercial settings. Their durability has led also to their use in inhospitable and off-the grid environments where artificial light is both scarce and highly necessary.

Yet it wasn’t until recently that LEDs gained widespread use. Since their invention in the 1960s, LEDs, which were initially available in red, then green, orange and yellow, gained popularity as manufacturing methods improved. However the lack of a complete spectrum of colors limited their application, and it became clear that blue, a primary color necessary for white lighting, needed to be developed.

It also became clear that the blue LED was much more difficult to invent than its predecessors. So difficult, in fact, that in some circles it was deemed impossible.

In this public lecture, Nakamura will outline not only the technical challenges that accompanied his quest to create the blue LED but also the obstacles he faced to accomplish what many around him said couldn’t be done. It’s a journey that begins with Nakamura as a recent graduate, working at a young Japanese manufacturing company in the late 1970s and leads him all the way to Stockholm in 2014 as a Nobel Prize winner in physics. Along the way he has received numerous accolades and is recognized worldwide for his innovations that ultimately paved the way for the white LED light.

Nakamura’s talk will feature live demonstrations onstage and an opportunity for audience members to ask questions.

Pre-signed copies of “Brilliant,” a book by technology writer Bob Johnstone that chronicles Nakamura’s endeavor to invent the blue LED, will be available for purchase at the event.

For more info, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at (805) 893-3535 or visit

Shuji Nakamura and other UCSB Nobel Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014

Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics Center (SSLEEC)

ECE Professor Kaustav Banerjee receives the 2015 IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award

March 12th, 2015

photo of kaustav banerjee
ECE professor Kaustav Banerjee has been named co-recipient of the 2015 IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award with Professor Vivek Subramanian of UC Berkeley

The Kiyo Tomiyasu Award is a Technical Field Award administered by the IEEE Awards Board covering all areas of the institute, and is one of the highest-level awards given by the IEEE.

The award recognizes outstanding early to mid-career contributions to technologies holding the promise of innovative applications. Banerjee received this award in recognition of his “contributions to nano-materials, devices, circuits, and CAD, enabling low-power and low-cost electronics”.

Banerjee’s visionary ideas and research into low-power electronics, including 3-dimensional ICs and thermal-aware IC design, have found wide scale implementation in the semiconductor industry. His research group has also spearheaded the use of low-dimensional nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes, graphene and other 2D crystals for overcoming power dissipation and other fundamental challenges in nanoscale devices, interconnects and sensors.

UCSB CoE News Release (full article)

Nanoelectronics Research Lab

Professor Yuan Xie featured in The UC Current article, “Better, Faster, Smaller”

March 12th, 2015

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Professor Xie recognized by the IEEE for his work with three-dimensional integrated circuits

We carry more computing power in our current smartphones than mission control had at its disposal when sending men to the moon in 1969 (They had a backup calculator, just in case!). Our handheld tablets and ebook readers can crunch numbers with more speed and ease than the first commercially available personal computer could, just over half a century ago. In 2015, a chip no bigger than a human fingertip can accomplish more than what 30 tons of computer could do back in 1946.

What’s responsible for this incredible shrinking computer phenomenon? Integrated circuits. The brains behind today’s modern devices, these are tiny components that relay and manipulate information and perform complex calculations in the blink of an eye. And it is for his work in the area of integrated circuits that Yuan Xie, professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been elected fellow by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

“This well-deserved, prestigious recognition by his peers around the world is highly valued and much appreciated at UCSB,” said Rod Alferness, dean of the UCSB College of Engineering.

“It’s very exciting,” Xie said of the recognition that honors his “contributions to design automation and architecture of three-dimensional integrated circuits.”

The UC Current (full article)

Professor Yuan Xie (website)

ECE alumni, Thien Nguyen (’11) and Armando Veloz (’79), receive awards at The National Engineers Week Foundation ceremony

March 6th, 2015

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The two UCSB Electrical and Computer Engineering alumni honored at the annual regional awards ceremony

Thien Nguyen received an award for Project of the Year for Autoliv’s Night Vision 3 System. Nguyen is the Aftermarket Project Manager at Autoliv Electronics.

Armando Veloz (Electrical Engineering, 1979) received an award for Engineer of the Year for his contributions to STEM education for local students. Veloz, with the Santa Barbara chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, conducts outreach engineering activities for students, kindergarten through college, including the UCSB MESA group. Veloz, who is a founding member of UCSB Los Ingenieros, is a Senior Electronics Engineer at Moog Space and Defense Group.

CoE News Release (full article)

Assistant Professor Jon Schuller receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

February 26th, 2015

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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