News

November 2016

Clarivate Analytics, formerly the Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters, announced the publication of its annual Highly Cited Researchers. The list is a citation analysis identifying scientists – as determined by their fellow researchers – whose research has had significant global impact within their respective fields of study.

More than 3,000 researchers, in 21 fields of the sciences and social sciences, were selected based on the number of highly cited papers they produced over an 11-year period from January 2004 to December 2014.

The Stanford EE faculty are

The 2016 Highly Cited Researchers list can be seen in its entirety by visiting: http://hcr.stateofinnovation.thomsonreuters.com

Excerpted from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/clarivate-analytics-names-2016-highly-cited-researchers-300362643.html

November 2016

Congratulations to Olav Solgaard on his elevation to IEEE Fellow. IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the Board of Directors upon a person with an extraordinary record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. Less than 0.1% of voting IEEE members are selected annually for this member recognition. IEEE Fellows will be formally announced by the IEEE at end of the 2016.

Professor Solgaard's research interests include optical MEMS, Photonic Crystals, optical sensors, microendoscopy, atomic force microscopy, and solar energy conversion. He has authored more than 350 technical publications and holds 60 patents. Olav came to Stanford with the support of a Royal Norwegian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Fellowship in 1986 and was named a Terman Fellow at Stanford for the period 1999-2002. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, and the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences.

 

November 2016

Stephen P. Boyd has been awarded the 2017 IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal. The award is given for a career of outstanding contributions to education in the fields of interest of IEEE.

 

The James H. Mulligan Jr., Education Medal acknowledges:

  • Excellence in teaching and ability to inspire students,
  • Leadership in electrical engineering education through publication of course materials and writings on engineering education,
  • Leadership in the development of programs in curricula or teaching methodology,
  • Contributions to the engineering profession through research, engineering achievements, and technical papers, and
  • Participating in the education activities of professional societies. 

Stephen has received many awards and honors for his research in control systems engineering and optimization. In 2016, he also received Stanford's highest teaching honor, the Walter J. Gores teaching award for his signature course, Convex Optimization, and was named as a 2016 INFORMS Fellow. He is the author of many research articles and three books: Convex Optimization (with Lieven Vandenberghe, 2004), Linear Matrix Inequalities in System and Control Theory (with L. El Ghaoui, E. Feron, and V. Balakrishnan, 1994), and Linear Controller Design: Limits of Performance (with Craig Barratt, 1991). His group has produced many open source tools, including CVX (with Michael Grant), CVXPY (with Steven Diamond) and Convex.jl (with Madeleine Udell and others), widely used parser-solvers for convex optimization.

Stephen is the Samsung Professor of Engineering, and Professor of Electrical Engineering in the Information Systems Laboratory at Stanford University. He has courtesy appointments in the Department of Management Science and Engineering and the Department of Computer Science, and is member of the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering. His current research focus is on convex optimization applications in control, signal processing, finance, and circuit design.

For nearly a century, the IEEE Awards Program has paid tribute to researchers, inventors, innovators, and practitioners whose exceptional achievements and outstanding contributions have made a lasting impact on technology, society, and the engineering profession.

The IEEE Honors Ceremony will be held in San Francisco, May 2017.

 

Please join us in congratulating Stephen!

November 2016

Sachin Katti and Pengyu Zhang, a postdoctoral researcher in Katti's lab, announced "HitchHike" this week at the ACM SenSys Conference. HitchHike is a tiny, ultra-low-energy wireless radio.

"HitchHike is the first self-sufficient WiFi system that enables data transmission using just micro-watts of energy – almost zero," Zhang said. "Better yet, it can be used as-is with existing WiFi without modification or additional equipment. You can use it right now with a cell phone and your off-the-shelf WiFi router."

HitchHike is so low-power that a small battery could drive it for a decade or more, the researchers say. It even has the potential to harvest energy from existing radio waves and use that electromagnetic energy, plucked from its surroundings, to power itself, perhaps indefinitely.

"HitchHike could lead to widespread adoption in the Internet of Things," Katti said. "Sensors could be deployed anywhere we can put a coin battery that has existing WiFi. The technology could potentially even operate without batteries. That would be a big development in this field."

The researchers say HitchHike could be available to be incorporated into wireless devices in the next three to five years.

The Hitchhike prototype is a processor and radio in one. It measures about the size of a postage stamp, but the engineers believe that they can make it smaller – perhaps even smaller than a grain of rice for use in implanted bio-devices like a wireless heart rate sensor (see video).

"HitchHike opens the doors for widespread deployment of low-power WiFi communication using widely available WiFi infrastructure and, for the first time, truly empower the Internet of Things," Zhang said.

 

 

Excerpted from Stanford Engineering News. Original article by Andrew Myers

 

November 2016

Lab64, a new electrical engineering laboratory and workspace located on the bottom floor of Packard, held its grand opening October 19. The workspace, also known as the Packard makerspace, is open 24 hours, seven days a week for any Stanford students interested in building electronics.

The full space consists of a series of rooms in Packard that have been retooled expressly as a makerspace. Cleaned out and filled with various electronic equipment, the walls are for writing on and brainstorming ideas.

Students of all majors can use the space after they view a short lab safety presentation and email the Lab64 manager. To further promote safety, lab64 has a buddy system that requires students to work in pairs when they use the space.

"Whether you're an electrical engineer or an art major who wants to use lights in your art pieces, we want everyone working here," said lab64 course assistant Sam Girvin '16.

The lab is currently equipped with what Girvin calls "typical lab bench stuff," including oscilloscopes, power supplies, soldering irons and a 3D printer. A laser cutter is also expected to be purchased in the coming weeks.

Lab64 was created because the electrical engineering department has wanted to help create a "maker" culture at the University for years, according to Girvin. Students now have a place to build whenever they have project ideas; they can go beyond building for class assignments.

"When I came to Stanford as a freshman, there wasn't an easy place to make things," Girvin said. "So I'm really excited about this."

During the opening event, students chatted over pizza and cookies and listened to presentations about the space. Attendees were then split into two workshop groups to explore the lab's capabilities: One group built a working AM/FM radio and the other, a functioning game console that plays the game Snake.

"This is a way to get into building important personal projects," said Zach Belateche '20, a prospective electrical engineering major and lab64 visitor. "Whether it's right after class or midnight on a Sunday, I can come here and work on things I care about."

Packard's makerspace has a team of mentors who can guide students to use the equipment effectively and safely. lab64 can be used by anyone, not just electrical engineers.

"We're trying to get as many different people to come in as we can," Girvin said. "We're willing to teach as much as people are willing to learn."

The lab supplies all equipment and basic materials for free, but a "Maker Store" is also set to open soon in Packard. It will sell more specific items that students may need to complete their projects.

Lab64 is not just a place to work with electrical equipment. Ultimately, the goal is to create a community where people can work, chat and talk about projects. 

 

 

 

Excerpted from The Stanford Daily, October 21, 2016. Original article by Max Pienkny

November 2016

November’s Electrical Engineering staff recognized for their outstanding effort are Steven Clark, Rachel Pham and Jennifer Wong. Nominated by peers, students and faculty, each are an example of professional contribution above and beyond their everyday roles, and continue to make profound and positive impact improving everyday work and academic life. 

Please congratulate Steve, Rachel, and Jennifer for their outstanding contributions to the EE department.  

  

Excerpts from this month’s recipient nominations follow. 

Steven Clark, Instructional Labs Manager

  • “Steven constantly goes above and beyond helping make new lab-based classes happen."
  • “He was instrumental in launching EE’s new maker space, lab64."

Rachel Pham, Academic Affairs & Programs Administrator

  • “Rachel was instrumental in the 2016 REU experience being well-attended, and professional."  
  • "I struggled with finalizing the room for my course, and for 2 weeks, she updated a lot — I appreciate her patience and helpfulness!"

Jennifer Wong, Research Administration Manager, Ginzton, E.L. Lab

  • “Jennifer’s timeliness and attention to detail are tremendously appreciated.”
  • “Her extraordinary effort underscores everything she does."

The Staff Gift Card Bonus Program is sponsored by the School of Engineering. Each year, the EE department receives several gift cards to distribute to staff members who are recognized for going above and beyond their role. Each month, staff are chosen from nominations received from faculty, students, and staff. Past nominations are eligible for future months.

 Nominate a deserving staff person or group today! We encourage you to nominate individuals or groups that have made a profound improvement in daily work life. Each recipient receives a $50 Visa card. Nominations can be made at any time.

 

Jon Fan's research on nanoscale optical devices
November 2016

A field of materials science known as metamaterials has recently captured the imagination of engineers hoping to create nanoscale optical devices. Jonathan Fan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and director of the ExFab at the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility, is leading the way. He recently won the prestigious 2016 Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, which funds the most promising early-career professors in fields ranging from physics and chemistry to engineering. Fan is just the fourth Stanford electrical engineer to win the fellowship since 1988, and the financial support that comes with it will enable him to carry on work that is so innovative that it can otherwise prove difficult to fund through traditional means. We talked to Fan about his visions in metamaterial engineering and about his interdisciplinary collaborations with fellow Stanford professors Allison Okamura and Sean Follmer in projects such as integrating new types of electromagnetic systems with robots.

What are metamaterials?

At its most basic level, we are bringing the idea of an antenna down to the nanoscale. Back in the day before cable and satellite, TVs had metal antennas. If your picture wasn't very good, you would get up and physically reconfigure the antenna geometry to change its performance. Those antennas were designed for radio waves that were centimeters to meters in length. We are working to create nanoscale antennas that would be able to respond to visible light with wavelengths of 400 to 700 nanometers, or infrared light, where wavelengths are on the order of a micron. By configuring the geometry of these antennas individually and in collections, we can engineer systems that can interact with and manipulate light in entirely new ways.

These tiny antennas are many orders of magnitude smaller than a TV antenna. Fortunately, the development of the modern electronic integrated circuit platform over the last half-century has produced mature technological processes that can help us define nanoscale features. We use those same patterning technologies to make these nanoscale antennas. That's the very basic overview.

What is the derivation of the term "meta" in the name metamaterials?

When you think of a conventional lens, you think of glass – the material, right? The glass in your camera or your eyeglasses bends light in very predictable ways based on the intrinsic material response of glass. A lens made of a metamaterial will respond to light in ways that are no longer solely based on the properties of the material itself, but largely on the design and layout of these optical antennas. So the concept of "meta" comes from our ability to engineer artificial materials, consisting of a composite of nanoscale structures, which can respond to light in entirely new ways. It's kind of neat to see an example in the case of a metal like gold. We usually think of gold as a bulk material that is reflective, yellowish and shiny. Even when you go down to the nanoscale, gold is still gold. But by specifying the geometry of nanoscale gold, we can change the color of gold from yellow to green or red, and it can support many other types of optical properties that we don't associate with bulk gold. Those are properties engineers can use to make new devices.

What do metamaterials allow us to do that we couldn't before?

Metamaterials are promising for a couple reasons. First, they enable the extreme miniaturization of existing optical devices. For example, we can take an eyeglass lens and we can make it 100 times thinner than a strand of hair. This allows us to translate traditionally bulky optical systems to extremely small form factors. Second, they can be customized to support novel properties that currently are not accessible with existing optical hardware, leading to entirely new optical systems.

What's an example of a potential metamaterial device?

A major opportunity today arises from the fact that high-resolution cameras have miniaturized to sizes that can fit onto cellphones, making them accessible to audiences a million times larger than before. Part of my larger research question is: Is there something more we can do with imaging systems with form factors of a cellphone camera? There is so much information in the incoming light field that is not currently captured by a cellphone camera, but that could be captured with imaging systems that include metamaterials. Access to this additional information could change how we use the images we take. For example, if you have a skin condition, a great deal more optical information of the skin could be extracted from a simple cellphone image and used to better assess your condition.

What excites you about metamaterials?

Metamaterials lead us to a completely different set of questions – metaquestions, if you will. For instance, are these nanoantennas even the best way to go about doing what we want to do? At this point in time, even that's not clear. In addition, you get to the big questions of applications for these materials and devices. It's just wide open. That's why this is exciting to me.

Any early impressions to share as a new faculty member?

Stanford is a really special place. The people are top-notch and the environment is highly collaborative, not siloed. As an example, I have recently expanded into robotics, where I have been looking to apply concepts in radio frequency waves to create smarter soft robotic systems. In this effort, I've started a collaboration with Allison Okamura and Sean Follmer, who are mechanical engineers. It's been fantastic so far, and I've been learning so much. People here are very open-minded and are inspired to do exciting interdisciplinary research to identify and solve big problems. I'm thrilled to be a part of that.

By Andrew Myers
Source: Stanford School of Engineering News

Jonathan's EE Spotlight

November 2016

Professor Andrea Goldsmith and post-doc fellow Nariman Farsad are currently looking into how chemical communication could advance nanotechnology.

Goldsmith and Farsad's research aims to create a system that uses chemicals to transmit messages. Instead of zeros and ones, their system uses an acid-base combination. The complications of this type of system are largely due to the fact that it's completely new. Goldsmith has spent her entire career working in wireless communication. Chemical messaging offers a new twist on familiar problems.

One potential of chemical-based data exchange is that it could be self-powered, traveling throughout the body harmlessly – and undetectable by outside devices. "This is one of the most important potential applications for this type of project," Farsad said. "It could enable the emergence of these tiny devices that are working together, talking together and doing useful things."

While working to improve their current chemical texting system, Goldsmith and Farsad are also collaborating with two bioengineering groups at Stanford to make human body-friendly chemical messaging a reality.

 

Excerpted from Stanford News. Full article.

November 2016


Yanjun Han (PhD candidate) and co-authors Jiantao Jiao (PhD candidate) and Professor Tsachy Weissman received the ISITA 2016 Student Paper Award. The award was announced at the International Symposium on Information Theory and its Applications (ISITA2016) event in Monterey, California.

Their paper is titled, "Minimax Rate-Optimal Estimation of KL Divergence between Discrete Distributions."

Congratulations to Yanjun, Jiantao and Tsachy!

 

 

November 2016

A team led by Jim Harris and Thomas Jaramillo, an associate professor of chemical engineering and of photon science, has made a significant improvement to the efficiency of solar energy. In work published in Nature Communications, they were able to capture and store 30 percent of the energy captured from sunlight into stored hydrogen, beating the prior record of 24.4 percent.

Solar energy has the potential to provide abundant power, but only if scientists solve two key issues: storing the energy for use at all hours, particularly at night, and making the technology more cost effective. The interdisciplinary team has made significant strides toward solving the storage issue, demonstrating the most efficient means yet of storing electricity captured from sunlight in the form of chemical bonds. If the team can find a way of lowering the cost of their technology, they say it would be a huge step toward making solar power a viable alternative to current, more polluting energy sources.

The basic science behind the team's approach is well understood: Use the electricity captured from sunlight to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gas. That stored energy can be recovered later in different ways: by recombining the hydrogen and oxygen into water to release electricity again, or by burning the hydrogen gas in an internal combustion engine, similar to those running on petroleum products today.

"It took specialists in different fields to do what none of us could have done alone," Harris said. "That's one of the lessons of this result: There is no single fix. How everything links together is the key."

 

Jim Harris is the James and Elenor Chesebrough Professor in the School of Engineering, professor, by courtesy, of applied physics and of materials science and engineering, a member of Stanford Bio-X and of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, and an affiliate of the Precourt Institute for Energy and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Jamarillo is also an affiliate of the Precourt Institute for Energy.

 

This article is adapted from the Stanford Report. Read full article

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February 2014

Three staff members each received a $50 Visa card in recognition of their extraordinary efforts as part of the department’s 2014 Staff Gift Card Bonus Program. The EE department received several nominations in January, and nominations from 2013 were also considered.

Following are January’s gift card recipients and some of the comments from their nominators:

Ann Guerra, Faculty Administrator

  • “She is very kind to students and always enthusiastic to help students… every time we need emergent help, she is willing to give us a hand.”
  • “Ann helps anyone who goes to her for help with anything, sometimes when it’s beyond her duty.” 

Teresa Nguyen, Student Accounting Associate

  • “She stays on top of our many, many student financial issues, is an extremely reliable source of information and is super friendly.”
  • “Teresa’s cheerful disposition, her determination, and her professionalism seem to go above and beyond what is simply required.”

Helen Niu, Faculty Administrator

  • “Helen is always a pleasure to work with.”
  • “She goes the extra mile in her dealings with me, which is very much appreciated.”

The School of Engineering once again gave the EE department several gift cards to distribute to staff members who are recognized for going above and beyond. More people will be recognized next month, and past nominations will still be eligible for future months. EE faculty, staff and students are welcome to nominate a deserving staff person by visitinghttps://gradapps.stanford.edu/NotableStaff/nomination/create.

Ann Guerra  Teresa Nguyen  Helen Niu

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