EE Research: The Big Picture

EE Research at Stanford: The Big Picture

Core Areas

Research in Electrical Engineering spans a diverse set of intellectual disciplines and applications. The disciplines can be grouped into three overlapping and interrelated areas:

Physical Technology & Science

We look to define the device technology and circuit fabric of future electronic and photonic systems, which integrate the abstraction levels of materials, nanostructures, semiconductor devices, integrated circuits, power electronics and electronic system engineering. We also investigate physics, materials, devices, and systems using light and electromagnetism, for applications including sensing, imaging, communications, energy, biology, medicine, security, and information processing. 

Subareas: Integrated Circuits and Power ElectronicsBiomedical Devices, Sensors and SystemsEnergy Harvesting and ConversionPhotonics, Nanoscience and Quantum TechnologyNanotechnology, Nanofabrication and NEMS/MEMSElectronic Devices

Information Systems & Science

In addition to work on the core disciplines of information theory and coding, control and optimization, signal processing, and learning and inference, our research in this area spans several application areas, including biomedical imaging, wireless communications and networks, multimedia communications, Internet, energy systems, transportation systems, and financial systems.

Subareas: Control & OptimizationInformation Theory & ApplicationsCommunications SystemsSocietal NetworksSignal Processing & MultimediaBiomedical ImagingData Science

Hardware/Software Systems

Our research in this area looks into new ways to design, architect, and manage energy-efficient systems for emerging applications ranging from the internet-of-things to big data analytics.

Subareas: Energy-efficient Hardware SystemsSoftware Defined Networking; Mobile NetworkingSecure Distributed SystemsData Science; Embedded SystemsIntegrated Circuits & Power Electronics


Multi-Disciplinary Research

EE faculty collaborate with researchers from other departments and schools across campus. More than a quarter of our faculty are joint with other departments, and a similar fraction of our PhD students have advisors outside EE. While the main applications of electrical engineering in the past four decades have been in information technology, EE tools and techniques are being increasingly applied more broadly to address major societal problems in areas such as:


Research in the biomedical area utilizes engineering approaches to meet the unmet needs in diagnosis, staging, treatment and mitigation of illnesses including cancer, diabetes, heart diseases as well as brain disorders.

Subareas: Biomedical Devices, Sensors and SystemsPhotonics, Nanoscience and Quantum Technology; Nanotechnology & NEMS/MEMS; Biomedical Imaging; Information Theory & Applications 


Research in energy is motivated at the macro level by the rapid rise in worldwide demand for electricity and the threat of global climate change and on the micro level by the explosion in the number of mobile devices and sensors whose performance and lifetimes are limited by energy.  

Subareas: Control & Optimization; Energy-Efficient Hardware Systems; Integrated Circuits & Power Electronics; Energy Harvesting & Conversion


Research Centers & Affiliates

Stanford EE also has a unique culture of entrepreneurship. Our faculty and students have started many companies to commercialize their research innovations. EE offers numerous opportunities for students and faculty to interact with industry through research centers and affiliate programs.