Research Cool Stuff

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State University is ranked among the top academic units engaged in scientific research in the United States on a wide variety of subjects from novel transistors for the next generation integrated circuits to concepts that will revolutionize how computers work.

Bioelectronics Engineering

Bioelectronics is the application of electrical engineering principles to biology, medicine, behavior, or health. Bioelectronics advances our fundamental concepts, creates knowledge for molecular to organ systems levels, and develops innovative devices or processes for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease in order to rehabilitate patients and improve health.

Bioelectronic engineers attempt to combine their knowledge of biological and electrical systems to produce new ways to treat patients. Bioengineers help create and evaluate new technology and improve the understanding of biological systems, which makes them invaluable to the medical community.

Real-world devices and systems are the keystone of bioelectronic research and development. Bioelectronic products are developed using several methods, ideas, and techniques, including bioelectromagnetics, instrumentation, neural networks, robotics, and sensor technologies.

Onsite facilities for prototyping and testing instrumentation systems, fabricating and measuring the performance of implantable devices, and building robotic prostheses are readily available. New sensors and sensor arrays are microfabricated in a 2,000 sq ft cleanroom.

Communications and Signal Processing

Research in the Communications and Signal Processing area focuses on issues regarding the efficient processing and transmission of data. Some examples of sources of data include sound, images, and sensor output signals. Signal processing algorithms deal with efficiently transforming the signals resulting from these sources into digital data streams. Communications research focuses on efficiently transmitting streams of data from one location to another. One important example of communications research is the investigation of techniques that transmit ever increasing data rates with multiple users while consuming less radio frequency spectrum and transmitted signal power.

Examples of signal processing research includes processing blurry images, recognition of features in images, efficient coding of signals and images into data, and algorithms for implementation of communications modulation and coding techniques.

Techniques such as multiple antennas, spread spectrum, software radios, modulation and error control coding schemes, sensor networks, and ultra-wideband radio are examples of topics of research in communications.

“My experience in this department has been exceptional. I have been able to work with and take classes from multiple leading researchers in my field. The bonus is that I’m a couple blocks away from industry, so when the time comes to look for jobs, I know I won’t have to go very far.”

Kristen Booth

PhD Student, Electrical Engineering (Power Electronics)

Computer Architecture and Systems

Computer architecture is the engineering of a computer system through the careful design of its organization, using innovative mechanisms and integrating software techniques, to achieve a set of performance goals.

The most common goals in computer architecture revolve around the tradeoffs between cost and performance (i.e. speed), although other considerations, such as size, weight, reliability, feature set, expandability and power consumption, are important factors as well.

Designers of computer systems must understand the mechanisms that affect these tradeoffs throughout the system: processor instruction set, processor implementation (known as “microarchitecture”), multiprocessor organization, memory system, communication networks, input/output devices, compilers, operating systems, and application software. Courses in CAS give students a solid grounding in many of these areas, and students pursuing research have the opportunity to specialize and innovate in the areas that most interest them.

Control, Robotics, and Mechatronics

Control, robotics, and mechatronics are interdisciplinary areas that have their own identity, and they also often form cohesive interdisciplinary collaborations. Control engineering is the engineering discipline that focuses on mathematical modeling of systems of a diverse nature, analyzing their dynamic behavior, and using control theory to create a controller that will cause the systems to behave in a desired manner. Robotics is the science and technology of robots, and their design, manufacture, and application. Robotics Engineers also study electronics, mechanics and software. Mechatronics (or Mechanical and Electronics Engineering) is the combination of mechanical engineering, electronic engineering and computer engineering to solve problems at the systems level. This interdisciplinary engineering field studies automata from an engineering perspective with the purposes of controlling advanced hybrid systems.

Many research labs and centers at NCSU/ECE have projects related to control, robotics, and mechatronics areas.

“As one of only two institutions to be home to two NSF research centers, and the home of the Department of Energy’s Power America institute, we are ranked among the top academic units engaged in scientific research in the United States.”

Dr. Daniel D. Stancil

Department Head

Electronic Circuits and Systems

The electromagnetic field generated when an alternating current is input to an antenna is called an RF field or radio wave. Ranging from a frequency of about 9 kilohertz (kHz) up to thousands of gigahertz (GHz), the RF spectrum is used by many types of everyday devices — radio, television, cordless and cellular telephones, satellite communication systems, and many measuring and instrumentation systems used in manufacturing.

These devices do their job using circuitry that converts an analog signal (for example, the voice of a radio announcer) into ones and zeroes and then into radio frequency signals that travel through the atmosphere. Conceiving of the recipes — called algorithms – to find novel solutions to the challenges presented using this circuitry requires a comprehensive understanding of the physical world coupled with imagination and creativity. Design of this type of circuitry is the focus of the ECS group.

Physical Electronics, Photonics & Magnetics

The quantum phenomena of nanoscale structures can be used to discover and engineer effects that can be usefully employed for high performance computing and telecommunications applications, and for advanced concepts in sensor biophysics devices. Research interests focus on semiconductor physics and modeling of electronic and optoelectronic devices in the nanoscale, low dimensional effects, quantum effects, quantum information processing/computing, molecular electronics, bionics/biological computing, and phonon processes in nanostructures.

Some of the more prominent achievements in this area include: the generalization of electron-optical-phonon interaction Hamiltonians for quantum wells with ternary materials, the derivation and calculation of interaction Hamiltonians and scattering rates by quantized optical and acoustic phonons in quantum wires, and the pioneering study of phonon band engineering and coherent phonon generation for enhanced device performance for both electronic and thermoelectric devices.

Current Research Grant Award Ranges

Current Research Grant Award Ranges

Current Research Grants By Type

Current Research Grants By Type

Current Research Award Amounts By Type

Current Research Award Amounts By Type

Networking

The Internet as we know it is a point-to-point communication model. Networking takes the model a step further. By using networking you can turn the net created by point-to-point communication into a finer integrated mesh of communication points. We research methods in which to effectively organize the flow of traffic which exists in these networks through the use of computer software with an ultimate aim at designing, building and operating telecommunication networks.

Like traffic lights, networking research seeks to organize the flow of traffic in computer networks. If a computer can predict traffic, it can allocate priority to those packets in the network that need to get through first. For instance, if a traffic light could predict the coming of an ambulance, traffic lights around the area of the ambulance’s destination would then work in collaboration to give priority to the ambulance and work towards letting the ambulance get through first.

By organizing this flow of traffic it will be easier for users to do projects and open programs simultaneously, efficiently and quickly. We envision a future Internet encompassing multimedia with the guarantee to watch video, email, and listen to music simultaneously.

Power Electronics and Power Systems

Power electronics is the engineering study of converting electrical power from one form to another. At a world-wide average rate of 12 billion kilowatts every hour of every day of every year, more than 40% of the power generated is being reprocessed or recycled through some form of power electronic systems. By 2010, it is expected this will increase up to 80%. A lot of energy is wasted during this power conversion process due to low power conversion efficiency. It is estimated that the power wasted in desktop PCs sold in one year is equivalent to seventeen 500MW power plants! It is therefore very important to improve the efficiency of these power conversion systems. It is estimated that with the widespread use of efficient and cost-effective power electronics technology, the world could see a 35% reduction in energy consumption.

The Power Electronics and Power Systems area at NCSU conducts research in the fields of electrical power systems, power electronics systems, power management microsystems and power semiconductor devices.

Highest Level of Industry-Funded Research in America

North Carolina has the highest level of industry-funded university research, according to a 2018 report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation – drawing 12.1% of our research funding from industry, benefiting not only the students and faculty, but ensuring a future for enduring research projects that directly benefit the world.

Top 10

in the Nation in annual research expenditures

According to ASEE

#5

Best value among public universities nationally

According to US News & World Report

#13

Nationally in graduates hired by the top 25 companies in Silicon Valley

According to HiringSolved

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate students can be a part of research groups at NC State, gain invaluable experience and have fun at the same time! The ECE faculty welcomes and encourages undergraduate student participation in many research projects funded by industry and/or government agencies.

Undergraduate research is typically performed as volunteer work and it can start as early as the second semester of the sophomore year. Some of the research positions offer stipends for summer or for the whole year.

Undergraduate research is intended to provide an opportunity for the student to get involved in scientific research. This experience is especially helpful if a student is interested in graduate study towards an MS or PhD degree immediately after completing the undergraduate degree.

As one of only two institutions to be home to two concurrent NSF research centers, and the home of the Department of Energy’s PowerAmerica institute, we are ranked among the top academic units engaged in scientific research in the United States.

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