EE Student Information

2021

prof Shan X. Wang
December 2021

Congratulations to Professor Shan X. Wang. He has been named as a 2021 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

Shan's research and inventions span across a variety of areas including magnetic biochips, in vitro diagnostics, cancer biomarkers, magnetic nanoparticles, magnetic sensors, magnetoresistive random access memory, and magnetic integrated inductors.

"The caliber of this year's class of NAI Fellows is outstanding. Each of these individuals are highly-regarded in their respective fields," said Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, FNAI, President of the NAI. "The breadth and scope of their discovery is truly staggering. I'm excited not only see their work continue, but also to see their knowledge influence a new era of science, technology, and innovation worldwide." 

 

Congratulations to Shan on his well-deserved honor!

 

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prof Jim Harris
December 2021

Jim Harris is Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering (EE) and, by courtesy, of Materials Science & Engineering and of Applied Physics. Jim is known for his groundbreaking research and development of semiconductors, quantum wells, and superlattices for efficient long wavelength telecom lasers and optoelectronics.

Jim earned his Bachelor's (64), Master's ('65) and PhD ('69) all in EE from Stanford. His career spans over 56 years as a student, researcher, professor, advisor, mentor, and entrepreneur. Prof. Harris was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2011 and received the prestigious Aristotle Award from the Semiconductor Research Corporation in 2013. He graduated 138 PhD students during his academic career at Stanford, and to all his students he is known as "Coach"!

Fun facts: Jim grew up in a very small farming community in Oregon in what he calls "the lower third of middle class". Neither his parents nor aunts or uncles ever attended college. From 4th grade, he helped his family by spending thousands of hours harvesting berries, nuts, hay, hops, milking cows, and delivering newspapers. His early education was limited, and for 2 years Jim attended a 2-room school with only 4 kids in his class. This is when he became interested in scouting and ultimately became an Eagle Scout. With the hard-earned money, he went to the Boy Scout Jamboree in PA, traveling across the country and back via train and visiting Philadelphia, DC, NYC, Niagara Falls, etc. This was an incredible experience that opened his eyes to a very different life from what he had known to that point.

No one in his high school had ever gone to college outside the Pacific Northwest. Jim was inspired to think a bit differently by a customer on his newspaper route—Scott Leavitt, a former Member of Congress from Montana who put forth the legislation to establish Glacier National Park and who had been his merit badge counselor while becoming an Eagle Scout. Jim has played sports all his life. Still a very avid snow skier and cyclist, he loves to do both at breakneck speed and seems to forget the consequences of high-speed crashes!


Professor Shanhui Fan
November 2021

Today's quantum computers are complicated to build, difficult to scale up, and require temperatures colder than interstellar space to operate. These challenges have led researchers to explore the possibility of building quantum computers that work using photons — particles of light. Photons can easily carry information from one place to another, and photonic quantum computers can operate at room temperature, so this approach is promising. However, although people have successfully created individual quantum "logic gates" for photons, it's challenging to construct large numbers of gates and connect them in a reliable fashion to perform complex calculations.

Professor Shanhui Fan and Ben Bartlett (PhD candidate, Applied Physics) have proposed a design that uses a laser to manipulate a single atom that, in turn, can modify the state of the photons via a phenomenon called "quantum teleportation." The atom can be reset and reused for many quantum gates, eliminating the need to build multiple distinct physical gates, vastly reducing the complexity of building a quantum computer. Their paper on the proposed design has been published in Optica.

The scientists' design consists of two main sections: a storage ring and a scattering unit. The storage ring, which functions similarly to memory in a regular computer, is a fiber optic loop holding multiple photons that travel around the ring. Analogous to bits that store information in a classical computer, in this system, each photon represents a quantum bit, or "qubit." The photon's direction of travel around the storage ring determines the value of the qubit, which like a bit, can be 0 or 1. Additionally, because photons can simultaneously exist in two states at once, an individual photon can flow in both directions at once, which represents a value that is a combination of 0 and 1 at the same time.

The researchers can manipulate a photon by directing it from the storage ring into the scattering unit, where it travels to a cavity containing a single atom. The photon then interacts with the atom, causing the two to become "entangled," a quantum phenomenon whereby two particles can influence one another even across great distances. Then, the photon returns to the storage ring, and a laser alters the state of the atom. Because the atom and the photon are entangled, manipulating the atom also influences the state of its paired photon.

Excerpted from: "Stanford engineers propose a simpler design for quantum computers"

 

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prof Chelsea Finn, image source: ai.stanford.edu/~cbfinn/
November 2021

Professor Chelsea Finn joins Professor Russ Altman for a recent The Future of Everything podcast, titled "How to make artificial intelligence more meta."

EPISODE NOTES
In one of computer science's more meta moments, professor Chelsea Finn created an AI algorithm to evaluate the coding projects of her students. The AI model reads and analyzes code, spots flaws and gives feedback to the students. Computers learning about learning—it's so meta that Chelsea calls it "meta learning."

Chelsea says the field should forgo training AI for highly specific tasks in favor of training it to look at a diversity of problems to divine the common structure among those problems. The result is AI able to see a problem it has not encountered before and call upon all that previous experience to solve it. This new-look AI can adapt to new courses, often enrolling thousands of students at a time, where individual instructor feedback would be prohibitive.

Emboldened by results in class, she is now applying her breadth-over-specificity approach to her other area of focus, robotics. Chelsea hopes to develop new-age robots that can adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and can do many things well, instead of a few, as she tells host Russ Altman and listeners to this episode of Stanford Engineering's The Future of Everything podcast. Listen and subscribe here

 

 

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prof Eric Pop
November 2021

Please join us in congratulating Professor Eric Pop on his elevation to IEEE Fellow. He is being recognized for contributions to phase-change memory, and to the thermal science of nanomaterials and nanoscale transistors. The IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields.

Eric's research is at the intersection of nanoelectronics and nanoscale energy conversion. Most projects include both fundamental and applied, experimental and computational components. Pop Lab

 

Please join us in congratulating Eric on his well-deserved recognition!

 

prof Gordon Wetzstein
November 2021

Professor Gordon Wetzstein and his colleagues are working to come up with solutions to bridge a gap between simulation and reality while creating displays that are more visually appealing and easier on the eyes.

The research published in Science Advances details a technique for reducing a speckling distortion often seen in regular laser-based holographic displays, while the SIGGRAPH Asia paper proposes a technique to more realistically represent the physics that would apply to the 3D scene if it existed in the real world.

 

"Artificial intelligence has revolutionized pretty much all aspects of engineering and beyond. But in this specific area of holographic displays or computer-generated holography, people have only just started to explore AI techniques," states Gordon.

 

Excerpted from "Stanford researchers are using artificial intelligence to create better virtual reality experiences," November 12, 2021.

 

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November 2021

Thanks to everyone who participated in EE's Gingerbread Contest!


Fourteen teams stepped up to the challenge of building a gingerbread house. EE's Student Services hosted the festive event in the Packard Building's atrium with plenty of music, food, fun, and of course, sweets.

The judges included John DeSilva, Mary K. McMahon, and Priyanka Raina. Judging criteria included completeness, creativity, and technical skill.

 

  • 1st - RPicicle and the Gingerbreadboards: Liana Keesing, Matthew Trost, Maria Fernandez, and Anna Mistele
  • 2nd - Team 201: Surin Ahn, Ethan Liang, Emi Zeger
  • 3rd - Midnight Cobras: Calvin Lin, Jordy Mukania, Obi Nnorom, Jr., and Stefan Orosco
  • Honorable Mention - Paulipants Gingerbread Elves: Iliana Bray, Michael Silvernagel, Lisa Yamada, Alissa Ling

Thanks to all of our staff, faculty, and students for your enthusiastic participation!

 

Photos by Krystal Navarro and Chet Frost

prof Shanhui Fan
November 2021
Professor Shanhui Fan and colleagues have modified silk to reflect 95% of sunlight, helping to keep the wearer cooler than other fabrics. 

They were able to engineer the silk fabric by embedding the fibers with aluminium oxide nanoparticles that reflect the ultraviolet wavelengths of sunlight.

The researchers found that the fabric stayed 3.5°C cooler than the surrounding air because of its ability to reflect most sunlight and radiate heat. It is the first fabric to be developed that stays colder than the surrounding air when in sunlight.

Shanhui says the fabric is mainly designed to keep people cool when they are outdoors and exposed to sun, rather than in indoor settings like homes and office buildings.
 

Scientists have been searching for passive ways of cooling us that don’t require electricity in order to help reduce demands on energy. Approximately 15% of global electricity goes towards keeping us cool. 
 


Journal reference: Nature Nanotechnology, DOI: 10.1038/s41565-021-00987-0
 
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Prof Tom Lee with an AM radio he made in elementary school. Photo credit Andrew Brodhead
November 2021

Professor Thomas Lee created and teaches an Introductory Seminar titled, "Things About Stuff." This engaging, student-driven course about invention has become a hit with many students. 

And the lack of strict definition is essential to what the course has become.

"I realized that this freedom was valuable because every group of students will have a different set of interests," says Tom. "Rather than fitting them into the course, why don't we fit the course to them?"

From the beginning, the course was a series of improvisations rather than a collection of pre-planned lectures. As Tom discusses the hidden histories of one invention, students raise questions about others, related or not. Curiosity drives the course trajectory – topics flow endlessly from one to another.

Students learn about the largely untold stories behind those devices, whose histories as recounted in history books and on Wikipedia are often truncated and linearized for ease and clarity.

The true annals of invention, however, tend to be much messier – and more interesting.

"My message to them is that there is rarely a linear narrative. Oftentimes, it's just little bits of art and random discoveries made centuries apart and in places distributed across the planet that alchemically combine to create a revolution," adds Tom.

Students not only hear histories of inventions but dabble in technology creation themselves. In the lab portion of the class, students power up calculators with batteries they make from pocket change and other household items, build spinning motors from hard drive scraps and improvise wireless communication systems with LEDs.

Tom Lee is the principal investigator of the SMIrC Lab, which has been a driving force in developing the theory of radio frequency (RF) CMOS integrated circuit design as well as in educating tomorrow's RFIC designers.

 

Excerpted from "Stanford course dives into untold histories of inventions," Nov 8, 2021. 

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prof Dan Boneh
November 2021

"This is a fascinating area of research with deep scientific questions. Once you get into the details you quickly realize that this area will generate many PhD theses across all of computer science and beyond."

- Professor Dan Boneh

 

Professor Dan Boneh heads the applied cryptography group, co-directs both the computer security lab and the Stanford Center for Blockchain Research (CBR).

Founded in 2018, CBR's primary mission is to support the thriving blockchain ecosystem by developing new technologies needed to advance the field by bringing together engineering, law, and economics faculty, as well as post-docs, students, and visitors, to work on technical challenges in the field.

CBR has built an extensive education and outreach program, including on-campus courses, student groups (Blockchain Club and Blockchain Collective), MOOCs, workshops, and conferences for the general blockchain community.

 

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