Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering: SURE 2011

Below are ECE-funded projects and videos created as part of the 2011 SURE program.
For a full list of videos, please visit the EECS YouTube channel.

Development and Characterization of Self-Aligned Chip-Level Bonding/Sealing Techniques of Integrated Microsystems (2011)
Student: Bing Zhang
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Khalil Najafi
Mentor: Dr. Becky Peterson, Research Scientist
Graduate Student Mentor: Ali Besharatian, PhD Candidate

Robust and low-temperature chip-level bonding/sealing methods are needed to package many micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) that cannot be packaged using conventional wafer-level bonding techniques. We have recently proposed a novel chip-level bonding technique which can be done using a wide range of polymers and spin-on (e.g. spin-on glass, solder) adhesives; however, the detailed process parameters and material properties need yet to be optimized experimentally.

In this project, the student will work closely with graduate students to develop new sealing technologies for a miniature gas micro pump. Specifically, the student will use equipment in the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility to spin-on or stamp sealant materials such as epoxies (glues) or other soft materials onto substrates such as silicon or glass, in order to bond two substrates together. S/he will be responsible for identifying appropriate sealants, developing the curing technique for each sealant, and assessing the impact of different substrate preparations. The student will test the effectiveness of the new sealing methods using a variety of tests including non-destructive inspection, bond shear strength measurement, leak/permeability testing, and thermal durability testing. Candidates should have some knowledge of electronic materials (e.g. semiconductors) or materials science, preferably polymers. A background in micro-/nano-fabrication is preferred but not required.

Distributed Sensing System Prototyping (2011)
Student: Yu Guan
Faculty Mentor: Robert Dick

Possible tasks include assisting Ph.D. students to deploy networked occupancy and energy use sensors in University of Michigan buildings, helping to evaluate sensor networking languages and compilers, and helping to deploy prototype personal air quality sensors. Ambitious students will have the opportunity to define and work on their own related sub-projects.

Efficient Memory Utilization in Highly Parallel Digital Signal Processing (2011)
Student: Shuanghong Sun
Faculty Mentor: Zhengya Zhang

Advances in very-large-scale integration (VLSI) allow sophisticated signal processing to be performed with a smaller cost. In this research, you will be using a high-performance digital signal processor (Texas Instruments TMS320C6472 6-core DSP processor) for compute-intensive imaging applications. These applications need to be parallelized to deliver an acceptable performance, and as a result they also demand high memory bandwidth. You will explore both architectural and algorithmic techniques to optimize the memory organization, scheduling and usage in order to remove the performance barrier. This project crosses over the research areas of computer architecture, design automation, and signal processing.

Evaluation and Development of Wireless Receivers (2011)
Student: Aramis Alvarez
Faculty Mentor: Michael Flynn

This research project will evaluate wireless systems, help develop demonstrations of the wireless transceivers and help develop new transceiver circuits.. Michael Flynn's research group has developed integrated wireless transceivers with record energy efficiency. These devices work with WiFi, Zigbee and other standards. Wireless systems with integrated sensors and processing are also being developed. As an example, a wireless sensor measures magnetic field strength and transmits the measured data to a base station. This SURE project will involve the design of new boards, and the writing test software as well as software to control instruments. Some integrated circuit design will also be included in the project.

High-performance Channel Codes for Power-efficient Wireless Communication (2011)
Student: Haorin Lee
Faculty Mentor: Zhengya Zhang

Efficient wireless communication requires both low-power transmission and low-power receiving. Powerful channel codes such as Turbo and LDPC have been invented to achieve reliable and low-power transmission. Non-binary LDPC is a recent development that enhances transmit power efficiency even further. However, these high-performance channel codes require very complex and power-hungry decoders on the receiver. In this research, you will investigate novel hardware architectures of high-performance non-binary decoders to improve their decoding power efficiency. The hardware architectures will be synthesized and demonstrated on FPGA for power and performance characterization.

iPod Audio Jack Energy Harvester (2011)
Student: Andrew Wysocki
Faculty Mentor: David Wentzloff

The goal of this project is to develop a circuit that plugs into the audio jack of any media player, harvests energy from a specific audio signal being played by the device, and then uses that energy to power a custom circuit. You will gain experience characterizing the power amplifier of an audio device to determine the available power, designing and building a custom rectifier and DC/DC converter to harvest energy from the audio signal and then regulate a stable power supply voltage from it, and finally transistor-level circuit design of an amplifier that is powered from the harvested energy.

Micro-scale Electrochemistry (2011)
Student: Alyssa Franken
Faculty Mentor: Becky Peterson

Electroanalysis is a very useful technique for characterizing the ions present in a solution and is widely used on the macro-scale in industry, medicine and environmental monitoring. If electoanalytical sensors could be made on the micro-scale they would be cheaper, more easily deployable, lower power, and lighter weight. The long term goal of this project is to build a 1cmx1cm electrochemical sensor using MEMS fabrication techniques. This summer the focus will be on the on the scientific and technical challenges of scaling down electroanalysis, and will involve design and fabrication work in Michigan's Lurie Nanofabrication Facility (LNF cleanroom.)

Modeling and Analysis of Discrete Event Systems Using DESUMA (2011)
Student: Xinning Shen
Faculty Mentor: Stephane Lafortune

As computers and computer-based technological systems are becoming an essential part of our daily lives (automobiles, electronics, etc.) and of the infrastructures of our society (power systems, transportation, etc.), the need for new techniques, methodologies and tools to design, analyze and control highly complex dynamical systems grows. An important class of dynamical systems encountered in today's technological systems is the class with discrete state spaces and event-driven dynamics, known as "discrete event systems" (DES). Over the years, several techniques and methodologies, with their associated software tools, have been developed to model, analyze, and control discrete event systems. One of these tools is DESUMA. See

The objective of this project is to construct and analyze discrete event models of technological systems using DESUMA and other related software tools. The starting point will typically be a Matlab model in Simulink/Stateflow. From it, a discrete event abstraction will be constructed, resulting in a model that can be analyzed using DESUMA. An existing tool for converting a Stateflow model into one accepted by DESUMA will need to be enhanced. Various enhancements to DESUMA may also need to be implemented. The student will work closely with a graduate student expert in discrete event systems.

Optimization of Thermoelectric Thin-film Co-evaporation Process for Energy Harvesting Applications (2011)
Student: Yi Yuan
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Khalil Najafi
Mentor: Dr. Becky Peterson, Research Scientist
Graduate Student Mentor: Niloufar Ghafouri

Solid-state thermoelectric generators are of significant importance for energy harvesting in many microsystems such as biomedical implantable devices and sensor network applications. Thermoelectric materials directly convert temperature difference to electrical energy and vice versa. Bismuth/antimony telluride compounds are well-known room-temperature materials that can be fabricated as n- and p-type thin films to form a thermoelectric couple. In this project, the student will work closely with graduate students to develop the thermal co-evaporation process for advanced bismuth/antimony telluride thin films. Specifically, the student will use equipment in the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility and Electron Microbeam Analysis Laboratory (EMAL) to measure and analyze thermoelectric thin film characteristics such as resistivity, composition and crystal structure. The student will also investigate the effect of substrate, evaporation conditions and post-annealing on thermoelectric material characteristics. Candidates should have some knowledge of solid-state physics (e.g. semiconductors) or materials science. A background in micro-/nano-fabrication is preferred but not required.

Optomechanics (2011)
Student: Paul Stanfield
Faculty Mentor: Tal Carmon

This project involves modeling and experiments with mechanical vibrations in a micron-scaled on-chip device that are excited by the radiation pressure of light.

Piezoelectric Thin Film Layer Transfer Using Wafer Level Eutectic Bonding (2011)
Student: Sui Yu
Faculty Mentor: Mina Rais-Zadeh

GaN is the second most commonly semiconductor material used today, after silicon. However, the fact that it can only be grown epitaxially and on specific substrates like sapphire and SiC limits its utility. A solution to this is to grow GaN on one substrate, and transfer the thin film (1 µm-10 µm), to silicon using Si-Gold eutectic bonding and removal of the growth substrate. The work involves finding the optimum conditions for the eutectic bonding and release. The student shall be expected to characterize the bonding conditions like temperature and contact force. The goal is to have a full wafer film transfer with uniform, void-free eutectic bonding followed by etching of the epitaxial wafer.

Recognizing Visual Categories from Images and Videos (2011)
Students: Zhen Zeng, Huade Zhang and Stephanie Gillespie
Faculty Mentor: Silvio Savarese

The ability to interpret the semantic of objects, their geometric attributes as well as their spatial and functional relationships within complex environments is essential for an intelligent visual system. In visual recognition, the problem of categorizing generic objects is a highly challenging one. Single objects vary in appearances and shapes under various photometric (e.g. illumination) and geometric (e.g. scale, view point, occlusion, etc.) transformations. In order to address these challenges, researchers in the Vision Lab at the University of Michigan are developing cutting edge technology in visual recognition. Our goals are to: i) introduce novel representations for describing rigid and non-rigid object categories. ii) Design methodologies for learning multi-view models where training data is provided in an unorganized fashion (e.g, from the Internet); iii) design algorithms for accurate object detection and view point estimation from either images or video sequences. Be part of the team and get involved in one of our projects!

Tools developed in this project are critical in a large number of applications such as autonomous vehicle navigation, robot sensing and manipulation, mobile vision, post-production movie editing, image database indexing, and human-computer interface. Our technology can play a fundamental role in designing systems that can help people with reduced functional capabilities due to aging or disability toward the goal of improving and sustaining the quality of life for all people.

Solar Cell Device Modeling (2011)
Student: Connor Field
Faculty Mentor: Jamie Phillips

Our group is currently investigating new material structures based on II-VI compound semiconductors in the goal of achieving next generation solar cells with improved efficiency and/or lower cost. As a part of this effort, modeling of the electrical and optical properties of the devices is desired to determine optimal device design and to interpret experimental device results. In this project, you will simulate the electrical and optical characteristics of solar cell devices to determine optimal material thickness, doping, and composition. Simulations will also be used to match experimental results on solar cell devices to determine factors limiting power conversion efficiency. Device modeling will utilize Sentaurus Device and custom Matlab software, no prior experience with these packages is required.

Ultra-low Power Circuit Design for Millimeter Sized Sensor Nodes (2011)
Student: Shimming Song
Faculty Mentor: David Blaauw

We are developing sensor nodes that have a size of 1 millimeter or less. The sensor nodes contain a small microprocessor, a transducer, such as pressure sensor or imager, a power source such as a battery and radio circuits. Reducing a sensor processor node to this minute size allows the sensor node to be used in a host of new and interesting applications, including implanted biomedical applications and monitoring of the environment. The work will depend on the background of the candidate and can include testing and diagnosis of fabricated chips, help with circuit design for processor, power management, and sensors, or software development for sensor applications.

Witricity (2011)
Student: Kenny Akametalu
Faculty Mentor: Anthony Grbic

This project involves hands-on experience in the emerging field of "witricity" (wireless electricity). Recently, the concept of transferring energy wirelessly through near-field coupling was proposed and experimentally verified at MIT in 2007. In the experimental demonstration, power was efficiently transferred over a distance of 2 meters using receiver and transmitter coils. The operating frequency of 9 MHz allowed the coils to remain within each other's near field even at distances of a few meters. Such a scheme could be used to efficiently charge mobile devices such as laptop computers, PDAs, digital cameras and cell phones wirelessly! The mobile devices would gradually charge throughout the course of the day, thereby removing the need for a power cord connection. Just imagine, not having to worry about plugging in your cell phone!

In this project, the student will work in Prof. Grbic's research group on the development of a witricity system. The student will first learn the fundamentals of witricity and then perform circuit simulations of a system using Agilent Advanced Design System (ADS): an RF/microwave CAD package that is the industry leader in high frequency design. The second part of the project will involve designing, simulating, fabricating and testing a witricity system that is compatible with printed circuit board technology.

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Undergraduate Research Opportunities