2014 Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE) Projects and Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) Research Projects

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)

Directions: Below are listed the most recent descriptions of 2014 SURE and SROP projects available in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). Please consider this list carefully before applying to the SURE or SROP program (http://www.engin.umich.edu/gradadmissions/sure/index.html). You are welcome to contact faculty if you have additional, specific questions regarding these projects. 

*IMPORTANT*: In addition to their online application, all applicants for ECE projects must also submit a resume and statement explaining their interest in and qualifications for the project that most interests them, including why they want to work on the project, the relevant skills they bring, and what they expect from their experience. The statement should be no longer than one page (12 point font and 1” margins) and must be uploaded in “other” at the bottom of the online application. Applications without this information may not be considered. Please include your name and UMID on all documents submitted.

ECE Project 1: Ultra-low Power Circuit Design for Millimeter Sized Sensor Nodes
Faculty Mentor: David Blaauw (blaauw@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: Introductory circuits course (EECS 312) and VLSI design course (EECS 427) is strongly preferred.

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.


ECE Project 2: Evaluation and Development of Wireless Receivers
Faculty Mentor: Michael Flynn (mpflynn@umich.edu)

Prerequisites : Matlab and some knowledge of digital and analog circuit design; knowledge of National Instruments software is helpful but not required.

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.


ECE Project 3: Flat Optics: Polarizers, Beam Deflectors and Lenses

Faculty Mentor: Anthony Grbic (agrbic@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: Undergraduate Electromagnetics. Student should have knowledge of time-harmonic electromagnetic fields (plane waves).

Electromagnetic metamaterials are subwavelength-structured materials with tailored electromagnetic properties. They can be designed to exhibit a wide range of properties including those not found in natural materials. For this reason, metamaterials have received widespread attention in recent years (e.g. superlenses, invisibility cloaks), and have been the subject of an intense research effort in the engineering and physics communities.  Metamaterial surfaces (metasurfaces) are the two dimensional equivalents of metamaterials. They are textured at a subwavelength scale, in the same way that bulk metamaterials exhibit subwavelength granularity.

In the proposed project, the student researcher will investigate metasurfaces that can steer and focus electromagnetic waves in unprecedented ways. Metasurfaces allow extreme control of electromagnetic wavefronts across electrically-thin layers, and therefore are ideally suited for the development of flat optical elements: low profile beam shaping, focusing and steering devices.  . 

The student researcher will experiment with a Gaussian beam measurement system, which he/she will use to characterize metasurfaces at millimeter-wave frequencies (70 - 90 GHz). Various flat, quasi-optical devices such single-surface lenses, polarization controlling devices, collimators and beam deflectors will be characterized using the automated measurement system.  The student researcher will also become well versed in industry-standard microwave/electromagnetic CAD packages. He/she will use these packages to simulate metasurface designs.  This will allow the simulated and measured performance of the metasurfaces to be compared. The student will also use these CAD packages to design a metasurface themselves.


ECE Project 4: An intelligent vision system based on artificial neural network
Faculty Mentor: Zhengya Zhang (zhengya@eecs.umich.edu)

Prerequisites: Junior or senior; interest in signal processing and digital hardware design; coursework in digital systems and/or computer architecture, and digital signal processing; experience with C and Matlab programming

Description: Modern computers are efficient at low level number crunching, but slow in intelligent tasks, such as recognizing objects in videos, that can easily be done by the human brain. Recent breakthroughs in computational biology showed that vision processing can be carried out by an artificial neural network inspired by the human brain. In this research, you will investigate neural network algorithms, and design a small scale neural network on a hardware platform as a proof of concept. The neural network prototype will be capable of learning a dictionary of objects through training, and recognizing objects by neuron firings. The bio-inspired neural network is expected to demonstrate key advantages in both power and performance in vision processing.


ECE Project 5: Efficiency Optimization of Organic Photovoltaic Cells

Faculty Mentor: Professor Stephen Forrest Project (Primary Contact is Jeramy Zimmerman jeramyz@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: Junior standing in EECE or MSE. Must be comfortable working with electronic test equipment and chemicals in a laboratory setting.

This laboratory conducts research on thin molecular films for use in solar energy harvesting for electricity generation. The student will fabricate and test solar cells with the goal of maximizing their efficiency. Cells have been demonstrated in this laboratory with excellent efficiencies, but improved processing should allow for improved conventional and bulk heterojunction cells. For more information on the work conducted in the Optoelectronic Components and Materials Group led by Professor Stephen Forrest, see http://www.umich.edu/~ocm/


ECE Project 6: Design and fabrication of IR absorbers

Faculty Mentor: Mina Rais-Zadeh (minar@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: Basic Understanding of Physics

We are developing uncooled infrared sensors/detectors using micromechanical resonators. To increase the sensitivity of these IR detectors, the resonators need to be coated with a thin layer of a nearly perfect IR absorber.  The work will include COMSOL simulation and fabrication of the absorber layer.  The student will work closely with a graduate student mentor and will learn all aspects of the design and fabrication during the course of the project.


ECE Project 7: Modeling, Analysis, and Control of Discrete Event Systems
Faculty Mentor: Stephane Lafortune (stephane@umich.edu)
Prerequisites: Junior standing in EE, CE, or CS; knowledge of C and/or C++ and/or Java required; familiarity with finite-state automata (e.g., EECS 376) recommended but not required.

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). DES arise in the study of software systems, transportation systems, networked systems, and so forth. Three application areas of DES currently being investigated in the research group of Prof. Lafortune are: (i) control of concurrent software for deadlock avoidance; (ii) control of traffic intersections for collision avoidance; and (iii) enforcement of security properties in computer systems. See http://web.eecs.umich.edu/~stephane/research.html for project-specific details.

The student will work closely with graduate students on one or more of the above application areas. The project will involve modeling for the purpose of DES control, development and implementation of algorithms, and performance evaluation of control strategies. Software tools to be employed include DESUMA (see http://www.eecs.umich.edu/umdes/toolboxes.html) and Stateflow/Simulink. Various enhancements to DESUMA may also need to be implemented. Please contact Prof. Lafortune for further details.


ECE Project 8: Developing a Space Experiment to Investigate the Use of Miniature Electrodynamic Tethers to Enhance Capabilities of Ultra-small Spacecraft
Faculty Member: Brian E. Gilchrist
Prerequisites: Calculus III, Physics I and II (mechanics and electromagnetics), basic circuits. Advanced courses in such areas as circuits, physics, embedded controls, or electromagnetics are desired. A demonstrated interest in cross-disciplinary projects is also a plus.

The growing success of nanospacecraft (1–10 kg) over the past decade has generated interest in exploring the potential for even smaller spacecraft, both as stand-alone satellites or as a distributed swarm.  Because of advances in integrated circuit and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology, the feasibility of miniaturized spacecraft at the levels of fully monolithic semiconductor integrated circuits (10–100 mg) or hybrid integrated circuits (10–100?g) is being seriously investigated.  To provide a sense of scale, the new "ultra-small" spacecraft concept is lighter than many modern cellular phones. 

We are investigating an approach for ultra-small spacecraft propulsion that appears to scale to the small size needed, is propellantless, and could enable substantially improved communications.  The approach uses a short, semi-rigid electrodynamic tether (EDT) for propulsion, which keeps the overall ChipSat mass low and provides enough thrust to overcome drag in low Earth orbit (LEO).  The EDT uses the Lorentz force, utilizing a current in a conducting tether in the presence of the Earth's magnetic field to produce a force. 

SURE students involved in this project will have an opportunity to build and test the EDT and other satellite subsystems. Students working on this project will also be able to conduct laboratory experiments that will tell us more about how the satellite operates in LEO.

ECE Project 9: Fabrication and Testing of Transparent Electronics

Faculty Mentor: Becky Peterson (blpeters@umich.edu)

Prerequisites: Junior standing. Must be interested in semiconductor devices and circuits. Must be willing to learn how to work
with chemicals in a laboratory setting, and work in the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility.

Transparent electronics are attractive for see-through displays in windows or vehicle windscreens. Our lab builds transparent zinc oxide-based circuits using liquid inks to ink-jet print the electronic layers. The project will include design, fabrication and electrical testing of transistors and small circuits such as logic cells or amplifiers. The SURE student will work closely with a graduate student mentor throughout the project and will be trained to use equipment in the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility as well as in Prof. Peterson's lab.

ECE Project 10: Development of plasmonic imaging probes for single-molecule imaging

Faculty member: Somin Eunice Lee (sleee@umich.edu)
Prerequisites: Basic understanding of physics and chemistry; Comfortable working with chemicals in a laboratory setting.

We are developing imaging probes, based on surface plasmon coupling, to enable nanometer-scale interactions below the diffraction limit to be observed. This project will entail designing and synthesizing plasmonic probes, and imaging single molecules by darkfield microscopy.