Graduate student Lee receives prestigious Intel Fellowship



Seungchul Lee
Seungchul Lee

The Intel Foundation PhD Fellowship Program provides fellowship awards for graduate students pursuing cutting-edge work in the fields that relate to Intel’s business and research interests. These fellowships are highly competitive, and receiving one is a major distinction in a student’s career.

So, when ECE grad student Seungchul Lee learned that he had received one of these prestigious fellowships, he was extremely happy, but he was also very generous in his praise for his fellow students in the research group. “I’d like to say that I’m really thankful for the other students in this group and my adviser because we all do similar research,” said Lee. “I believe that I received this on behalf of our group.”

Since coming to Illinois two years ago, Lee has been working on the calibration of digital and analog circuits. Although the scaling down of CMOS technology promises faster and lower-power circuits, it is not necessarily good for analog circuitry design. “Real data information—what you see and what you hear—is analog information. And you need to convert that into digital information,” said Lee.

In the process of converting to digital, a bottleneck occurs because there are two problems that need to be overcome in the conversion process: circuit linearity and memory errors. Lee is striving to overcome this bottleneck through a new process of calibrating digital and analog circuits. “Unlike the conventional calibration methods that are focused on a single error source,” explained Lee, “I pursue more universal techniques that are extendible to the treatment of nonlinearities of active devices.”

In the end, said Lee, his approach “will speed up and improve the accuracy in signal processing.”

ECE Assistant Professor Yun Chiu, Lee’s adviser, said that Lee is making some major inroads in an area that has been a source of difficulty in the industry. “In his research, complicated, power hungry analog circuits, with high linearity, will be replaced by efficient, inverter-type amplifiers and simple switched capacitors, with gross nonlinearity,” said Chiu. “The novelty of his work resides in the simplicity and universality of his approach.”

Lee received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sogang University in Korea in 1998 and 2000, respectively. He spent seven years working in a government institute before coming to Illinois for his PhD work. Lee sees receiving this as a sign that industry recognizes the value of their research. “This means we are doing some meaningful research,” said Lee. “And this encourages us to publish more about our research.”