Volk – Paper Recognized at ASC

ECE PhD student Jennifer Volk receives “Best Student Paper in Electronics – Second Place” with former UCSB CS student Georgios Tzimpragos (now Ass’t. Prof at UMich) and MIT Lincoln Lab researchers

illustration of volk's research

The paper “Low-Cost Fan-Out with SFQ Cell Labeling” received the award for developing a new approach to scaling superconductor electronics in an intuitive way. They found that this method introduces 15-20% hardware savings and reduces current consumption without sacrificing robustness. When investigating emerging technologies such as superconductor electronics, it is common to focus on the physics of the devices rather than the connection of gates and the building of systems. However, the latter steps are critical when trying to scale. This work demonstrates the development of a new hardware abstraction that enables design modularity while enforcing low-level analog design rules, using superconductor electronics as a case example. Moreover, the proposed abstraction has ties to familiar concepts like electrical effort, which points to a potentially stronger connection between superconductor electronics design and conventional design than has been previously assumed.

Volk’s main area of research is in exploiting circuit- and device-level quirks in emerging technologies to benefit the architectures and systems she builds with them. Using superconductor electronics as a case example, she focuses on building ties between these areas by defining electrical abstractions and designing scalable circuit components. In doing so, her work firstly allows computer architects to make well-informed decisions without the need for analog circuit design know-how; and secondly enables circuit designers to have greater control over architectural metrics such as power consumption, area overhead, and delay.

photo of jennifer volk

Volk is a 4th-year Computer Engineering Ph.D. student in Computer Science Prof. Tim Sherwood’s lab. She is a recipient of UC Santa Barbara’s 2022 Graduate Opportunity Fellowship (GOF) and a VP of CE in the ECE Graduate Student Association (GSA), as well as a member of the Women in Computer Architecture (WICARCH). She has held internships and appointments at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Seeqc, and as a mentor in the RMP. Other papers she has coauthored have received additional awards, including an IEEE Micro Top Picks and Top Picks Honorable Mention.

The Applied Superconductivity Conference is the primary conference for researchers worldwide in the superconducting field, and covers topics ranging from superconductor electronics to materials, magnets, and large-scale applications. The student paper competition is curated by the Applied Superconductivity Educational Foundation, which is made up of leaders in the field.

Volk received her award on the final day of The Applied Superconductivity Conference  (Oct 23-28) in Honolulu, Hawaii

"Low-Cost Fan-Out with SFQ Cell Labeling," Jennifer Volk, Georgios Tzimpragos, Alex Wynn, Evan Golden and Timothy Sherwood (arXiv)