Electrical And Computer Engineering REU
The Department of Electrical & 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
Applications are closed for 2013. Please check back in 2014.
All applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents. The program is designed for students who are juniors in Spring 2012, but exceptional sophomores will also be considered. A major in electrical and computer engineering is helpful but not necessarily required.
Selected students should expect to hear of their acceptance to the program by April 1st. Student participants will be on site from late May to late July.
Research Opportunities for 2013
The following three 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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 US Environmental Protection Agency estimates datacenters already consume 1.5% of total nationwide electricity, which is comparable to the consumption of 5.8M US 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, (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 (email@example.com)
Thickness Variation in Polymer Thin Films Deposited by Resonant Infrared Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation
Resonant infrared matrix-assisted pulsed laser evaporation (RIR-MAPLE) is a promising deposition technology for the fabrication of conjugated polymer-based optoelectronic devices for two primary reasons: i) the ability to control film morphology, and ii) the ability to deposit multi-layered heterostructures. The Stiff-Roberts group has developed a variation of RIR-MAPLE that uses emulsified targets of organic solvents and water such that the incident laser wavelength (Er:YAG at 2.9 µm) is resonant with hydroxyl (O-H) bonds in the host matrix, which are absent from the guest material. The novelty of the approach lies in the fact that while most polymers of interest and many compatible solvents do not resonantly absorb the laser energy at 2.9 ?m, the emulsion with water enables high-quality, thin-film deposition with minimal photochemical and structural degradation for almost any polymer of interest. In order to fabricate polymer-based optoelectronic device heterostructures, careful control over film thickness across a substrate is required. In this project, atomic force microscopy (AFM) will be used to characterize film thickness of polymer thin films across an entire substrate as a function of RIR-MAPLE growth parameters. The goal is to determine the thickness uniformity of the thin films for application to optoelectronic devices.
Faculty contact: Prof. Adrienne Stiff-Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Water-Splitting Photoelectrochemical Electrode Nanostructures
The need for alternative sources of energy has called to maximize the harvest of our abundant solar energy supply through the development of several generations of photovoltaic cells. However, as vast strides in nanostructuring of materials are bringing us closer to exceeding the Shockley-Queisser power efficiency limit, these advances won’t be as viable unless the diurnal nature of solar energy is addressed by streamlining the storage of this energy as a fuel. To tackle this issue in an efficient and environmentally clean manner, researchers have been developing nanostructured photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells which utilize solar energy to directly catalyze a water-splitting redox reaction in order to generate a storable hydrogen fuel.
Our solar fuels project will involve the synthesis and characterization of several promising PEC electrode nanostructures. With regards to synthesis, a student involved in this project may expect to be involved in the following: 1) the operation of an atomic layer deposition (ALD) system and sputtering system for material deposition of thin films; 2) the assembly and preparation of electrodes for testing in a photoelectrochemical cell; and 3) discussions where the testing of potential alternative nanostructures (carbon nanotubes, metal oxide nanowires, quantum dots, etc) will be proposed. With regards to characterization, a student researcher’s responsibilities may include: 1) the operation of a potentiostat to perform various electrochemical tests; 2) the use of common nanocharacterization tools such as SEM, XPS, XRD, Ellipsometry, etc; and 3) take part in discussions where these results will be analyzed and assessed for improvement opportunities.
The ideal candidate for this project will have some previous experience with solar fuels, be comfortable handling a basic prescription of chemicals, and be highly motivated to learn how to operate and maintain the tools in our labs.
Wide-Area Continuous Remote Patient Monitoring Radar
Objective: To conduct experiments with and analyze signal processing results from a low-power microwave radar performing wide-area, continuous monitoring of patient vital signs.
Background: With the aging of the US population and the increasing cost of acute care, the need for remote patient monitoring (RPM) technologies which can alert caregivers of sudden vital sign changes at any time is expected to become of increasing importance. Although a wide variety of RPM devices are currently available, they typically either transmit data on a duty cycle of several hours or involve the use of a patient-worn RF transmitter which has undesirable battery-limited endurance. In our work, we are developing a concept which overcomes these limitations by eliminating the need for power-hungry RF electronics on the patient and instead uses a stand-off radar to acquire patient data. The proposed approach for RPM consumes only milliwatts of power on the patient-worn device which would enable continuous, 24/7 RPM for a year or more. This dramatic reduction in power consumption is achieved by using quasi-passive differential radar-cross-section (DRCS) signaling to telemeter sensor data to a collection point which can serve multiple patients across an apartment-sized area. In addition, radar signal processing provides localization and tracking of patient movement within their living space so that the same device could alert care-givers to a patient fall or accident.
Thus far at Duke we have developed the backscatter modulator and micro-controller part of the patient node [Thomas, 2012] and demonstrated its operation as a radar transponder. The laboratory experimental set-up is shown in Figure 1. The equipment used in this test includes a unique wideband S-band microwave Software Testbed radar (STRADAR) which facilitates rapid prototyping of radar signal processing algorithms in MATLAB using I/Q data collected on a 16-channel phased-array receiver and MIMO-capable transmitter [Yu, 2010]. Also seen in Figure 1 is the microcontroller circuit board attached to a dipole S-band antenna used as a transponder. Note that in a practical application, higher frequency operation (e.g. at 5 Ghz or 24 Ghz) would permit use of a much small antenna such that the entire sensor package could be embedded in clothing.
Faculty contact: Profs. Jeffrey Krolik (email@example.com) and Matthew Reynolds