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

April 1st, 2015

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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

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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

Materials professor Chris Van de Walle is the first researcher to hold the Kroemer Chair in Materials Science

February 19th, 2015

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Endowment named after Herbert Kroemer, UCSB emeritus professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and of Materials and 2000 Nobel Laureate

The development of the bright white light-emitting diode (LED) signaled the beginning of the end for the incandescent bulb, which, at only five percent efficiency, emits far more in heat than light.

But, even with the LED’s phenomenal 50 percent efficiency, can the cooler-burning, longer-lasting LED bulb be made even better? UC Santa Barbara materials professor Chris Van de Walle thinks it might be possible. And that is the kind of research he looks forward to pursuing as the first person named to UCSB’s newly established Kroemer Chair in Materials Science.

“I’m extremely honored,” said Van de Walle. “I’m a great admirer of Herbert Kroemer, and I feel very privileged to be chosen to be the inaugural recipient of the chair that bears his name.”

The UCSB Current "Lighting the Way" (full article)

Van de Walle's Computational Materials Group

Herb Kroemer — 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics

Professor Yuan Xie and graduate student, Shuangchen Li, win best paper award at the 21st International Symposium on HPCA

February 12th, 2015

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21st International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA) is one of the top computer architecture conference

HPCA provides a high-quality forum for scientists and engineers to present their latest research findings in this rapidly-changing field. This year 51 papers were accepted out of 228 submissions. Xie and Li’s paper titled “Architecture Exploration for Ambient Energy Harvesting Nonvolatile Processors” was selected as the Best Paper Award Winner. This work is a collaboration with Penn State University and Tsinghua University.

Shuangchen Li is a first-year Ph.D. student in ECE department at UCSB. He received his MS and BS degree from Tsinghua University.

21st IEEE Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture

Yuan Xie Group

UCSB ECE Alumna, Cynthia Breazeal, interviewed by TechRepublic about her career path and social robotics research

February 11th, 2015

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MIT robotics lab director and creator of Jibo, the first family robot, Cynthia Breazeal, talked to TechRepublic about her career path and her vision for robotics.

Cynthia Breazeal had an epiphany after NASA landed Sojourner on Mars. It was one of the greatest successes of robotics in history, and at that moment, she realized the world had sent robots into the depths of the ocean, into volcanoes, and catapulted them into space.

But where were they in people’s lives? Where were they in the home?

She knew that building a robot that could deal with the human environment would be much more challenging than a robot that could navigate rock field landscapes — not that rocks were ever easy, but home life is much more complex.

“There are people and pets, minds, thoughts and beliefs and emotions, and robots need to be able to interact with them,” Breazeal said. “No one was looking at that problem. What would it mean to build a robot with social and emotional intelligence that can ultimately do things in collaboration with people?”

Breazeal is known as one of the pioneers and leaders of social robotics, having had a hand in the creation of the first social robot, Kismet, made in the late 1990s. She currently leads MIT’s Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group, and is the founder of Jibo, the world’s first family robot.

Though she planned on becoming a doctor, her parents convinced her to pursue a degree in electrical and computer engineering at UC Santa Barbara. It so happened that around the time she attended, the school had started a robotics lab. Her fascination with Star Wars stayed with her through college, so she began taking more robotics classes. Then she read an article about planetary rovers and decided she might want to be an astronaut. So, Breazeal applied to graduate schools to get a doctorate in space robotics. She decided on MIT, where she would earn her ScD and MS degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.

To learn more about Breazeal’s research, career path, company Jibo, work & home life and “In Her Own Words” interview read “Cynthia Breazeal: Social robotics pioneer. MIT lab leader. Proud mom.” at TechRepublic.

MIT Media Lab

Breazeal's Personal Robotics Group

Jibo (website)

Professor Jim Buckwalter receives the 2015 IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) Outstanding Young Engineer Award

January 28th, 2015

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Buckwalter receives the award for “outstanding early career contributions to the microwave profession”

The IEEE MTT-S Outstanding Young Engineer Award award recognizes an outstanding young MTT-S member who has distinguished himself/herself through a sequence of achievements which may be technical (within the MTT-S Field of Interest), may constitute exemplary service to the MTT-S, or may be a combination of both.

The award will be conferred at the annual Society Awards Banquet to be held during the International Microwave Symposium the week of 17-22 May 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.

IEEE MTT-S Outstanding Young Engineer Award

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

January 15th, 2015

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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)

CoE News Release

Liebling's Systems Bioimaging Lab