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Illinois ECE graduate student wins 2020 MTT Graduate Student Fellowship Award


Joseph Park, Illinois ECE

Ali Essam Ali Kourani
Ali Essam Ali Kourani

Illinois ECE graduate student Ali Essam Ali Kourani was recently named as one of the 12 recipients of the 2020 IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) Graduate Student Fellowship Award. This award is sponsored by the MTT-S to support graduate students around the world who are interested in pursuing the field of microwave engineering. The awardees were selected by a group of MTT-S volunteers from both industry and academia. 

Kourani received his B.Sc. degree in electronics and communications engineering from Ain Sham University, Cairo, Egypt in 2012. He received his M.Sc. degree from The American University, Cairo in 2015. Currently, Kourani is pursuing his PhD degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and expects to graduate in 2021.

Kourani's current research interests include microelectromechanical system (MEMS)-based wireless transceivers and RF/mm-wave IC design. In 2019, Kourani received the Best Student Paper Award at the IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium and European Frequency and Time Forum. 

Kourani's project is the first attempt to implement a 30-GHz RF MEMS oscillator via integrating lithium niobate acoustic resonators and 65-nm CMOS. The end goal of his project is to envision the mm-wave oscillator as the heart of a reconfigurable ultrawideband PLL-less direct frequency synthesizer.

Songbin Gong
Songbin Gong

As a result of Kourani's study, the first voltage-controlled MEMS oscillator based on LiNbO3 targeting mm-waves will be demonstrated. His resonator is expected to have a Q of 1,000, enabling exceptional CMOS phase noise values of –74 and –134 dBc/Hz at 1-kHz and 1-MHz offsets, respectively, from a 30-GHz carrier, consuming only 7 mW of dc power.

According to the 2020 MTT-S Fellowship Award press release, "the direct RF synthesizer is envisioned to cover an ultrawide range of frequencies from 60 MHz to 30 GHz via chains of low-power, low-noise open-loop frequency dividers." Kourani also proposed a temperature-stable solution, achieving a temperature stability of sub-ppm over a range from –20 to 60 °C, consuming only microwatts of dc power.

Kourani is advised by Illinois ECE  Associate Professor Songbin Gong, Intel Alumni Fellow in Electrical and Computer Engineering.


Read the 2020 MTT-S Fellowship Award press release here.