Electrical and Computer Engineering REU

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University hosts undergraduate students from around the country in their research laboratories in the summer. These students will work with a faculty member and their research group to tackle an innovative research project. Students admitted to the program receive a competitive monthly research stipend as well as arranged on-campus housing and a travel allowance. 

When to Apply

The application for 2014 is closed. Please check back in 2015 for next year's REU opportunities.


All applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents. The program is designed for students who are juniors in Spring 2014, but exceptional sophomores will also be considered. A major in electrical and computer engineering is helpful but not necessarily required.

Dates and Stipend

  • Awards will be announced no later than April 1, 2014.
  • Dates for the summer 2014 REU: Sunday May 25,2014, to Saturday, July 26, 2014
  • Stipend: $4,200
  • Travel: up to $400
  • Housing is provided
  • Food budget: $175

Research Opportunities for 2014

The following four projects are available for the coming summer. Interested students are encouraged to apply. Questions about any of the projects or the REU program in general should be directed to Amy Kostrewa (amy.kostrewa@duke.edu). To be considered for any project, students must apply online through the link above. 

Heterogeneous Datacenter Design and Deployment

Demand for computing capacity is driven by the data deluge. Over the past 45 years, computer engineers have transformed exponentially increasing transistor density into exponentially increasing capacity. At present, energy costs jeopardize further scaling. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates datacenters already consume 1.5 percent of total nationwide electricity—comparable to the consumption of 5.8 million U.S. households. No combination of existing datacenter architectures can improve computing capacity by the desired three orders of magnitude within datacenter power budgets, which are already at megawatt scales.

This project examines the design and deployment of heterogeneous datacenter architectures that improve efficiency by 10x. Heterogeneity deploys a mix of specialized hardware for a mix of software needs, improving efficiency as unnecessary hardware resources are eliminated. To build heterogeneous datacenters, we explore design spaces for processors, memory, network, and storage using techniques in statistical inference and machine learning. To deploy heterogeneous datacenters, we use multi-agent markets in which applications bid for heterogeneous architectures, maximizing utility.

REU students participating in this project may participate in data collection and analysis. Responsibilities may include (1) analyzing performance and power for a variety of processor and memory designs, (2) simulating future processor and memory designs, and (3) performing data analysis and design optimization. While not required, some knowledge in computer architecture and a major programming language (e.g., C, C++, Java) is helpful.

Faculty contact: Prof. Benjamin Lee (benjamin.c.lee@duke.edu)

Materials and Device Characterization of Organic Solar Cells Deposited by Resonant-Infrared Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation (RIR-MAPLE)

RIR-MAPLE is an organic-based thin-film deposition technique appropriate for polymeric optical coatings (such as anti-reflective coatings) and organic optoelectronic devices (such as solar cells). RIR-MAPLE is expected to improve the device performance of organic solar cells due to nanoscale domains of donor and acceptor materials that enhance charge separation of photogenerated excitons. In this project, the student will investigate the materials properties and device performance of organic solar cells deposited by RIR-MAPLE using atomic force microscopy, UV-visible absorption spectroscopy, photoluminescence spectroscopy, external quantum efficiency and solar cell fill factor measurements.

Faculty contact: Adrienne D. Stiff-Roberts (astiff@ee.duke.edu)

Growth, Characterization and Applications of Advanced Carbon Nanostructures for Field Emission Sources

Unique carbon nanostructures such, as carbon nanotubes, have been shown to be ideal candidates for field emitter sources. The power consumption and low heat generation benefits they offer over their thermionic counterparts make them ideal for many applications ranging from portable chemical sensors, display applications and even x-ray imaging. However, there are still several important characteristics that must be studied related to morphology impacts on field emission, lifetime and resiliency to ion impact damage and adhesion to various conductive substrates needed for practical applications.

Our nanostructures field emission project will focus on the growth and material characterization of several unique carbon nanostructures including but not limited to carbon nanotubes, graphenated carbon nanotubes, and carbon nanosheets. A student involved in this project would expect to be trained to operate several instruments including a microwave plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition growth chamber, scanning electron microscope and raman microscope for characterization, and several other instruments needed for building functional test devices to test field emission and related parameters. The student would also be expected to take part in discussions where results will be analyzed and new ideas can be formulated into experiments.

An ideal candidate for this project would have some previous knowledge or experience in materials characterization, previous knowledge or interest in nanomaterial development, and be comfortable with operating important tools. They should also be self-motivated and hold a high work-ethic in terms of commitment and follow-through.

Faculty contact: Dr. Jeff Glass, PhD (jeff.glass@duke.edu)

Graduate student research contact: Erich Radauscher (erich.radauscher@duke.edu)

Characterization of Supercapacitor Electrode Nanomaterials for Streamlined Storage of Solar Energy

The need for alternative sources of energy has driven researchers to maximize the harvest of our abundant solar energy supply through the invention of novel photovoltaic (PV) architectures. Unfortunately, all PV devices function on a diurnal cycle that only produces energy during the day but does not store it so that it may be available for night-time use.

This project proposes to tackle this issue by developing scalable nanomaterial synthesis and wet-coating processes that enable cost-effective roll-to-roll production of a unique flexible thin film laminate device that integrates the efficient harvest and storage of the solar energy through an organic photovoltaic (OPV) layer and a supercapacitor layer, respectively. This is a collaborative project between several groups at Duke and UNC. Our group’s task revolves around the synthesis and characterization of several carbon composite nanostructures to be used in the supercapacitor layer of the device. A student involved in this project may expect to be involved in the synthesis of nanomaterials through atomic layer deposition (ALD), various solution-based methods, and electrodeposition. With regards to characterization, a student researcher’s responsibilities may include the operation of a potentiostat to perform various electrochemical tests and the use of common nanocharacterization tools such as SEM, XPS, XRD, ellipsometry, etc. In addition, students will get the opportunity to attend and present during our lab group’s biweekly meetings as well as meetings with our collaborators working on the OPV and the transparent conductive layers of the device.

The ideal candidate for this project will have some previous experience with electrochemistry, have basic knowledge of nanoscaled materials, be comfortable handling a basic prescription of chemicals, and be highly motivated to learn how to operate and maintain the tools in our labs.

Faculty contact: Jason Amsden, PhD (jason.amsden@duke.edu)

Graduate student research contact: Isvar Cordova (iac4@duke.edu)