NSF awards grant to ECE ILLINOIS faculty to develop energy-efficient chip-scale sensors

ECE News

8/30/2018 12:08:20 PM

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Haitham  Al-Hassanieh
Haitham Al-Hassanieh
ECE ILLINOIS faculty members Haitham Al-Hassanieh, Songbin Gong, and Jin Zhou have received an NSF grant to develop a new generation of energy-efficient chip-scale spectrum sensors that could lead to a more efficient use of our radio frequency (RF) spectrum.

With the increasing demand for wireless communications and sensing, there has been an unprecedented RF spectrum shortage -- a recent Federal Communications Committee (FCC) auction sold bundles of spectrum around 1.8 GHz for more than $40 billion. Since access to the spectrum will continue to be an important foundation for America's economic growth and technological leadership, it is imperative to efficiently use the limited spectrum.

Songbin Gong
Songbin Gong
Today, large portions of spectrum are underutilized as they are exclusively accessed by a predefined group of users. A dynamically shared spectrum access scheme could significantly boost the spectrum efficiency. The key to a shared spectrum access  is a real-time sensor that can monitor a wide and crowded spectrum. However, real-time access to such spectrums, using existing approaches, requires extremely power-hungry analog-to-digital converters and is not practical for energy-constrained mobile applications.

The team proposes to develop a new generation of energy-efficient and low-cost spectrum sensing systems by fusing recent innovations in RF acoustic-resonator-based devices, reconfigurable circuits, and sparse signal processing. If successful, this development will enable a transformative functionality -- energy-efficient sensing of densely occupied wide spectrum in real time -- that allows for substantial enhancement of spectrum efficiency.

Jin  Zhou
Jin Zhou
Zhou, the principle investigator on the project, said, "The most exciting part of this project is its multidisciplinary nature which spans different layers of abstraction, from device to circuit and to algorithm. I believe this cross-layer approach is what makes our solution standout."

The NSF grant is funded through the organization’s Spectrum Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, and Security (SpecEES) program which is coordinated by NSF’s Directorates for Engineering (ENG) and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) to identify bold new concepts to significantly improve the efficiency of radio spectrum utilization while addressing new challenges in energy efficiency and security.

Al-Hassanieh and Zhou are also affiliated with the CSL. Gong is an Intel Alumni Fellow in Electrical and Computer Engineering and also affiliated with MNTL.

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