Faculty Projects

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This Page is a listing of current faculty projects. If these look interesting to you, go ahead and contact the faculty member!

Emmanuel Abbe

- The goal of this project is to use information-theoretic measures to quantify how much information can be learned on the community structure of a network by observing the connectivity graph.

- The goal of this project is to understand the 'chaotic' structure of polar codes, a recently developed class of codes which meets the Shannon bound with low-complexity.

Ravin Bhatt

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Mung Chiang

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Stephen Chou

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Paul Cuff

  • College Football Rankings: In college football, there are many teams and not enough games, making it hard to establish reliable rankings and comparisons. However, there are many attempts using polls and algorithms, and the national championship game is even determined from these rankings. I'd be happy to supervise a project that involves creating a ranking system and comparing the predictive performance of existing ranking systems. This project will involve coding. The first steps will involve gathering archived rankings and results (which may include some scraping of websites---something I will not be much help with). This project could easily incorporate more than one student.

Jason Fleischer

  • Big sound from small speakers. We will use new methods of signal processing to improve the sound quality of small speakers, such as those in cell phones.
  • Removing speckle in biomedical ultrasound. This project focuses on enhancing images in clinical ultrasound.
  • Imaging blood vessels. This project will image blood vessels and flow using visible light.
  • 3D photography. We are developing methods to convert existing cameras into 3D imaging devices.

Claire Gmachl

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Andrew Houck

  • Building new circuit elements for quantum computers. We are interested in building the pieces for a quantum computer, and in particular need to build new and improved qubits to store quantum information, high quality directional couplers to route quantum information around a chip, and new types of isolators to protect fragile quantum information from environmental noise.
  • Optical quantum processors. We are beginning to look into optical properties of defects in SiC which could act as room temperature quantum sensors or quantum bits
  • I am always interested in exploring new directions and in engineering more broadly. If you have a crazy idea that you'd like to try, let me know and we might be able to put together a good and feasible project

Niraj Jha

1. Derivation of quantum logic identities: Boolean logic identities form the basis for conventional logic optimization. Quantum logic identities are similarly needed for quantum logic optimization. The project involves derivation of logic identities for three qubits or more.

2. Novel FinFET circuits and architectures: The semiconductor industry is moving from MOSFETs to FinFETs at the 14nm technology node in 2014. FinFETs come in many styles: shorted-gate, independent-gate, asymmetric, and thus offer a much richer design space than bulk CMOS. There are many projects that are likely to lead to novel FinFET circuits and architectures. These span various levels of the design hierarchy: device, standard cells, optimization under process variations, SRAMs, microarchitecture, cache, network-on-chip, chip multiprocessor.

3. Security of Internet of Things (IoT): By 2020, it is expected that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. That is very exciting. However, it also implies that billions of devices can be hacked remotely. Hacking of medical devices and automobiles has attracted recent attention. However, the problem is much larger. The question is how do we maintain privacy, confidentiality, integrity and availability in the IoT era.

4. Energy-efficient buildings: 40% of US energy is consumed in commercial and residential buildings. We have developed a simulator called retrofit-oriented building energy simulator (ROBESim) to analyze how retrofit solutions can significantly reduce the energy consumption of existing buildings (by up to 60%). This project involves extensive energy/cost/CO2 analysis of buildings under various climate conditions.

Antoine Kahn

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Sanjeev Kulkarni

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Sun-Yuan Kung

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Ruby Lee

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Bede Liu

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Steve Lyon

Much of the work in my lab is centered on figuring out how to build a quantum computer. We have a variety of projects, ranging from more EE-like to more physics-like. For example:

  • Designing and testing cryogenic silicon circuits. The quantum computers we are building will operate very close to absolute zero. We need regular silicon chips to work at these temperatures. We design specialized CMOS circuits, which we then need to measure, and we also test regular commercial CMOS chips to see which ones can be made to work at low temperature
  • Automating experiments and data acquisition. Lots of times we need to take a bunch of data or upload complicated instructions to instruments. Some of these projects are mostly software (we use Matlab to run some of the equipment), and some are a combination of software and hardware. Recently we used a Raspberry Pi (small single-board Linux computer) for automating a measurement, which worked well, and we plan to keep playing with the Pi's.
  • Simulating electron transport on superfluid helium. One of the approaches we are taking to building the quantum computer uses electrons "floating" on the surface of superfluid helium. As part of that we have been developing programs (combination of Python and C) to simulate their motion as we change the voltages on gate electrodes. Projects in this are would mostly be programming, though a longer project could involve both programming and experiments on electron motion.
  • Low-noise and precision circuits. We need to measure very small signals (for example, sensing the charge of individual electrons), and must control voltages with very high precision. We need to design and build circuits to do this, and then control them (probably with a Raspberry Pi).
  • Designing and building new resonators for Electron Spin Resonance experiments. Electron spin resonance is one of the ways we measure the "quantum bits" we might use in the quantum computer. These experiments use microwave resonators, and we want to develop new ones, both large "bulk" resonators(~ few inches) and superconducting micro-resonators. For example, we want to make resonators which allow us to excite our samples with circularly-polarized microwaves.

Sharad Malik

As part of my research, I study the problem of Boolean Satisfiability, which is checking to see if the inputs to a Boolean formula can be set such that the formula evaluates to true. This problem is easy to state, but hard to solve at scale. It has many applications in computer science and engineering, and thus any practical solution has wide impact. In the past, undergraduate research in my group has led to important and useful results in this area. Research projects in this direction include:

  • studying new ideas for improving existing solvers
  • studying ways of visualizing the search conducted in current solvers with the goal of gaining some insight for improving the search
  • using these solvers for attacking mathematical proofs that relate to exploring possibly an exponentially large number of cases. For this topic it would be helpful to be interested in applied math.

I am also open to advising projects where the ideas are initiated by students - these could involve hardware, software or theory - I am very open!

Prateek Mittal

  • Internet security and privacy: The insecurity of Internet protocols and services threatens the safety of our critical network infrastructure and billions of end users. How can we defend end users as well as our critical network infrastructure from attacks?
  • Trustworthy social systems: Online social networks (OSNs) such as Facebook, Google+, and Twitter have revolutionized the way our society communicates. How can we leverage social connections between users to design the next generation of communication systems?
  • Privacy Technologies: Privacy on the Internet is eroding rapidly, with businesses and governments mining sensitive user information. How can we protect the privacy of our online communications? The Tor project (https://www.torproject.org/) is a potential application of interest.

Vince Poor

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Paul Prucnal

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Peter Ramadge

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Barry Rand

  • Development of a scattering layer for thin film white LEDs to enable better outcoupling of light
  • Research on the synthesis and optical properties of metal nanocrystals to enable them to be used in LEDs
  • Improve buffer layers that act as charge injection and collection layers for organic solar cells. We would like to develop materials that allow for structural templating of organic semiconductors without any parasitic effects.
  • Study the purification and crystallization processes of organic semiconductors and their thin films - link these material properties to electronic and optical properties
  • If you have other ideas within thin film electronic and optoelectronic devices, please feel free to contact me.
  • I would be happy to work with students interested in robotic systems and/or aerial vehicles - one example: methods for compact, multispectral imaging systems and their applications

Alejandro Rodriguez

  • The Casimir effect on nanostructured fluid surfaces. We seek to theoretically study the influence of quantum and thermal fluctuations on thin fluid films sitting on nanostructured surfaces. We will exploit state of the art theoretical and optimization techniques from computational electromagnetism to explore wetting and dewetting phenomena at the nanoscale.
  • Repulsive Casimir forces on an integrated silicon chip. With the help of our recently developed theoretical and computational techniques, experimental colleagues recently demonstrated that the Casimir force between moving parts in an integrated Silicon chip could play a significant role in its operation. In upcoming work, we aim to show that lateral Casimir forces can be exploited to repel two micro-electronic devices on a Silicon chip. We will model these forces in a particular geometry, consisting of interleaved bodies, and investigate the shape and material dependence in order to guide and validate current experiments.
  • Light absorption in Coccolithophores. The goal of this project is to gain a solid understanding of the scattering and absorption characteristics of a special type of photosynthetic phytoplankton known as a Coccolithophore. These unicellular organism can be found in ocean waters and are believed to play an important role in a number of climate-relate issues, including carbon sinks and sea-nutrient depletion. Our approach will exploit powerful numerical electromagnetism techniques based on the finite difference time domain method.

Kaushik Sengupta

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Mansour Shayegan

  • Fabrication and characterization of low-dimensional semiconductor structures (quantum wells, quantum wires, quantum dots, etc.)
  • Low temperature magneto transport measurements of low-dimensional semiconductor structures.

Jim Sturm

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Hakan Türeci

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Sergio Verdú

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.

Naveen Verma

The research in my group explores integrated circuits and systems for advanced sensing applications. Basically, we are interested in creating electronic systems that can perform extensive and sophisticated interactions with the real world. Since the signals presented by the real world are numerous and physically complex, electronic systems must overcome major challenges. Our research spans the areas of emerging electronic devices (flexible, large-area electronics), new circuit architectures, advance algorithms for signal analysis (machine learning, statistical signal processing), and full-system synthesis. The applications we focus on are medical sensors (for neurological and cardiovascular diseases), smart cities (infrastructure monitoring), smart homes (highly sensorized spaces), ubiquitous energy harvesting...

  • System for electroencephalogram (EEG) replay: In my lab we build devices that perform functions on physiological signals (such as EEGs). To test these devices, we would like to perform digital-to-analog conversion on EEGs we have previously recorded from patients, and replay the signals so that they can be used to test our devices. This project involves the use of bench-top laboratory equipment, LabView software, and custom devices built in the lab.
  • System for real-time EEG acquisition and streaming: We have a system for many-channel EEG acquisition in my lab. We would like to adapt this to stream EEG recordings in real time to the custom electronics we build in our lab. This project involves the use of a EEG-recording system, Mac drivers and system software, and FGPA platforms.
  • Application design for specialized machine-learning processor: In my lab, we have build a custom microprocessor that includes a CPU (capable of executing software compiled from C) along with custom hardware accelerators for machine-learning functions. This project involves using this microprocessor to implement applications for advanced embedded sensing that were never possible before. Think about performing gesture recognition using a cell-phone camera for gaming applications, etc.
  • Algorithms for computing using 'broken' hardware: As CMOS technology continues to scale, it is becoming impossible to ensure the correct operation of the transistors underlying our computing systems. The question is whether a system can 'learn' and compensate for its own faults, performing high-value computations despite highly-broken hardware. We have discovers some algorithms that can enable this. This project involves emulation of such systems and algorithms on FPGAs by injecting models for various physical faults.
  • Audio processing using a large array of microphones: We are developing flexible sheets that integrate arrays of microphones with active electronics. Using microphone arrays, we can perform beam forming, where our array effectively 'listens' to specific points in a room. This project will involve using the acquired audio data to perform speech recognition.

Sigurd Wagner

  • Mechanical flexibility of zinc oxide thin-film transistors.

Field-effect transistors based on zinc oxide are the up-and-coming technology for flexible display screens. ZnO TFTs made on plastic substrates are tested to ensure their functionality in roll-out displays for cell phones. Evaluate the electrical characteristics of these transistors, while they are bent to defined radii of curvature.

  • Dielectric-elastomer minimum-energy structures.

Dielectric-elastomer minimum-energy structures are pre-stretched dielectric elastomer membranes adhered to thin flexible frames. The shape of the system can be varied by applying a voltage. Explore the shapes that a system made of three cells can attain, when the voltages applied to the three cells are different. Co-advised by Sigurd Wagner (ELE) and Sigrid Adriaenssens (CEE).

David Wentzlaff

  • Tracking and photographing near earth objects and in-orbit objects such as artificial satellites has remained a challenge. This is primarily driven by the problem that these objects move quite fast across the sky and are typically not very bright. To solve this challenge, we propose to construct a computer controlled camera mount to track and photograph interesting objects which have otherwise been impossible to photograph. A successful student or team of students is sought to create such a camera mount to photograph objects such as satellites whose configuration is currently unknown.
  • Construct and modify a open source 3D printer which is then used to print biodegradable motherboards and computer cases.
  • In our research group, we are building a new manycore microprocessor, we are looking for an undergraduate to study whether it is possible to use Crowd-sourcing to test the functionality of this new microprocessor. This would involve working with Amazon's Mechanical Turk along with setting up experiments to see if Crowd-sourcing can be effective at finding bugs. This would involve using untrained labor to to write test cases for a processor. Finally, we would like a student to use crowd-sourced computing to help verify the chip by using altruistic peoples' computer power. Think of SETI-at-Home for chip verification.

Gerard Wysocki

  • Although I have not yet listed specific project ideas, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in exploring possibilities.