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Undergraduate Research

Hello Electrical Engineering undergraduates,

I encourage you to consider getting involved in an undergraduate research project, particularly during junior or senior year. A majority of ND EE students does so for at least one semester. In addition to EE Elective credit, this experience offers you:

• Improved perspective on research and graduate school

• Exposure to new technical experiences


• Teamworking skills


• An improved resume


• Interesting experience to talk about at job interviews


• Better acquaintance with faculty, useful for future job references

There is great variety in the nature of the work involved, the number of credit hours available, and the background knowledge required. Some projects are available for pay rather than academic credit; many aspects will depend on the professor with whom you work, and may include a good deal of choice on your part.

Please look over the projects below. If you like a project, you can visit with me to learn more, or go directly to the listed professor. If you don’t see what you like, don’t be discouraged. New research efforts arise frequently and may not yet appear on this list. Feel free to see me with any questions.

Sincerely,

Professor Ken Sauer
275 Fitzpatrick Hall
sauer@nd.edu
574-631-6999

 

 


Undergraduate Research Guidelines (EE 48499)

1. Student must be in good academic standing to register for Undergraduate Research (EE 48499).

2. Undergrad research has a per-semester minimum of 1 credit hour.
A maximum of 6 hours may be applied toward graduation,
satisfying EE Elective requirements.

3. For every credit – 3 hours of research must apply, i.e. 3 credits = 9 hours weekly research.

4. Undergraduate research may be carried out in return for academic credit (EE 48499) or for financial compensation as a part-time job. Students carrying out research as a part-time job should still sign up for 0 credits of EE 48499.

5. Student must submit a written report summarizing the research and give an oral presentation concerning the project to at least 2 faculty members, one of whom must be the EE 48499 advisor.

6. Undergraduate Research may substitute for Senior Design under the following conditions: The student must a) find a professor of Electrical Engineering willing to advise a project for two full semesters; b) register for at least 3 credits of UR in each of the two semesters; c) keep a formal research notebook and have it approved by the advisor and a second faculty member at the end of each semester. The project must be approved by the Electrical Engineering Undergraduate Committee to determine its rigor and suitability as research and design experienced. Finally, the student must satisfy all of the rules of UR as stipulated above. No student making this substitution may apply UG research credit to any other graduation requirement.

7. Grades are based on what was accomplished and the effort put forth by the student.

 

Antsaklis Group

contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~pantsakl
pantsakl@nd.edu
205H Cushing, 1-5792

Networked Embedded Control Systems

Advances in sensor, actuator and microprocessor technology (MEMS and nanotechnology) have enabled distributed implementation of sensor and control actions over sensor/actuator networks. Such networks may consist of a large number of embedded processors typically of limited processing power, which should perform well under severe resource constraints (e.g. limited battery life) and under unreliable and limited communication conditions (e.g. wireless ad-hoc networks) over wide geographic areas and for long periods of time. These units must coordinate their actions in order to accomplish desired goals, such as controlling the orientation of a group of micro communication satellites or the output of a power plant. In order to build successful networked control systems we need to address novel questions and issues that lie in the intersection of control, computing and communication networks and transcend the traditional problem formulations in those areas.

This research project will focus on building a wireless feedback loop for a ball and beam system and study the implications of networking on the stability and performance of the control system.

Bauer Group

contact information
pbauer@nd.edu
269 Fitzpatrick, 1-8015

(1) Active light based obstacle avoidance in autonomous vehicles:

This project focuses on simple light based methods to detect and avoid obstacles using (modulated) light sources. A four wheel vehicle and a two track rover are available to test the developed circuits. Most of the required work consists of analog and digital circuit design and vehicle performance testing on a testbed. This is a follow up project to a previous project that was started in Spring 2004.

(2) Beacon based navigation aids for autonomous vehicles:

This project attempts to develop new beacon based guidance methods for autonomous vehicles for GPS denied areas. Global guidance to the general destination area is done by GPS (and is investigated in a separate project in AERO/MECH Engineering - Dr. Batill), but local guidance is done using navigation beacons. This principle has already been proved to work on a testbed and is now ready to be modified for outdoor environments. IR / radio beacons and matched receivers will need to be integrated into the system. Practically all work is hardware related, and a significant amount of time will need to be spent on outdoor testing.

(3) Formation forming in simple agent clusters:

New ultra low complexity circuits and sensors will be investigated for achieving formation forming of mobile agents. There are 3 to 4 four wheel vehicle available for this work and the goal is to demonstrate that certain simple vehicle formations can be achieved with very low complexity systems. This project requires the modification of already existing circuits to change and fine tune the behavior of a single node and as a consequence, the behavior of the entire cluster.

(3) Formation forming in simple agent clusters:

This project attempts to solve problems similar to the traveling salesman problem but with more than one agent. The idea is to serve m targets with n mobile agents (m>n) in a way that is in some form as close to optimal as possible. The focus of this approach is to use potential field methods. The project entails a mix of hardware and simulation work.

Bernstein Group

contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~gbernste
gbernste@nd.edu
225 Cushing, 1-6269

Bipolar junction transistor (BJT) technology has largely been supplanted by CMOS for digital applications, although several analog applications still exist. Prof. Bernstein is developing a new technology for fabricating nanoscale bipolar transistors, a regime which is not normally associated with BJTs. This challenging project will allow interested students to work in the laboratory performing a variety of nanofabrication steps and associated measurements.

 

Fay Group

contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~pfay
pfay@nd.edu
261 Fitzpatrick, 1-5693

Undergraduate research projects are typically available for interested students in any of the research projects in Prof. Fay's group. See http://www.nd.edu/~hscdlabfor topic areas and project synopses. Interested students are encouraged to contact Prof. Fay directly (pfay@nd.edu).

Haenggi Group

contact information
mhaenggi@nd.edu
274 Fitzpatrick, 1-6103
http://www.nd.edu/~mhaenggi

Our research group currently seeks 1-2 outstanding undergraduate students to join our group and contribute to our expanding research efforts in the Emerging Wireless Architectures (EWA) laboratory. As a member of our team, you will:

  • learn about current technology and research issues in wireless networking, in particular ad hoc networks, cognitive networks, software radio networks, and sensor networks
  • develop skills and experience through a wide range of valuable research activities: from building and experimenting with radio and sensor hardware modules, to implementing sophisticated communications and signal processing software in Matlab, LabView, or C on software radio devices
  • interact regularly with graduate students and faculty, through individual and group meetings

    All that is required is a solid background in signals and systems (EE30344, perhaps EE30354), eagerness to learn and to work independently and as a team.

 

Hall Group

contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~opto
dhall@nd.edu
260 Fitzpatrick, 1-8631

Optoelectronics Laboratory (B01 Stinson-Remick Hall)

Projects related to ongoing photonics research and teaching activities are available. Currently available project (2012-13): Characterization of semiconductor lasers fabricated at Notre Dame in the Stinson-Remick cleanroom facility.

Holography Laboratory (B16 Fitzpatrick Hall)

Undergraduate research opportunity suitable for engineering students at all levels to aid in development of advanced holography processes.  Work with lasers, optics, and holographic film to fabricate high quality transmission and reflection holograms.  Help develop outreach materials for local high schools.

 

Howard Group

contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~showard
showard@nd.edu
227 Stinson Remick, 1-2570

Photonics for Medical Imaging and Diagnostics

Undergraduation projects are available in two thrusts:

(1) New photonic devices allow for high resolution imaging and chemical interrogation at the cellular and tissue scale. These technologies aim to reduce the need of invasive surgeries and reduce the lag time between imaging and diagnosis. High speed multi-photon and long wave infrared imaging systems for medical and pharmaceutic applications are being developed.

(2) Low cost advanced imaging and diagnostic systems are being developed due to the widespread availability of low cost embedded systems and optical components. Platforms such as the OpenPCR and new low-cost portable endoscope platforms in collaboration with the NDIIF will provide researchers and clinicians in developing countries access to what is typically expensive technology. We are working on developing and providing such technology to researchers.

 

Huang Group

contact information

http://www.nd.edu/~huang
huang@nd.edu
259 Fitzpatrick, 1-5350

Projects of current interests include integration of information technologies into energy technologies, leading to the development of smart power grids. We are seeking students that are interested in surveying issues relevant to smart grid development and working on innovative research related to distributed generation of renewable sources, reliability and security of power grid, transmission and distribution issues (T&D), demand management and response.

For more information on Dr. Huang's research group, you may visit http://www.nd.edu/~aspect

 

Laneman Group

contact information
jnl@nd.edu
267 Fitzpatrick, 1-8034
http://www.nd.edu/~jnl

Our group regularly seeks 2-4 outstanding undergraduate students to participate in our research and outreach efforts. As a member of our team, you will:

  • learn about hot technology and policy issues in wireless communications and gain exposure to many commercial and military applications
  • develop skills and experience through a wide range of valuable research activities, from building and testing hardware, to writing signal processing software in MALTAB or C, to designing experiments and interpreting data, to assessing economic value and developing policy positions
  • interact regularly with graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty, through individual and group meetings, both formal and informal
  • explore service and entrepreneurial opportunities in collaboration with local organizations
  • accelerate your path to graduate research, better jobs in industry, or both

All that is required is a solid background in circuits and systems (e.g., classes such as EE20224, EE30344, and EE30354), eagerness to learn, willingness to work independently and as a team, and strong written and oral communication skills. Experience with radio and DSP hardware design, communications theory, networking, or software engineering is a plus.

 

Jena Group

contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~djena
djena@nd.edu
271 Fitzpatrick, 1-8835

1) Characterization of electronic properties of GaN based semiconductors Hall and capacitance-voltage (C-V) measurements are the "workhorses" of characterization in the semiconductor industry and research laboratories. In a recent survey, Hall measurement was ranked as the most frequently performed experiment used in all industry, microelectronic or otherwise! In this project, the undergraduate student will be introduced to the theory and practice of Hall measurements and C-V analysis and will participate in the characterization of various GaN-based structures that concern my current research.

2) Basic transport software for 1D Poisson solver I want to come out with a software package that will calculate the transport properties of semiconductors based on a set of inputs. A student with good programming skills would find it a good exercise in semiconductor physics. In short, the software would be an application that would take the semiconductor material (Silicon, GaAs, GaN, etc.), the doping and defect density and calculate the mobility and carrier concentrations as a function of temperature. The application would be very useful, on the lines of Prof. Snider's 1D Poisson solver.

 

Merz Group

contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~jmerz
jmerz@nd.edu
203B Cushing, 1-3111

Nano-Optics Laboratory

The Nano-Optics Laboratory specializes in very high spatial-resolution optical spectroscopy utilizing near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) techniques. To do this, we have developed expertise in making optical fiber probes with apertures as small as 50 nanometers. A student project for this research would focus on fiber tip production; that is, making a number of fiber probes for use with our room-temperature NSOM system. This project would involve learning to pull and etch the fibers, evaluating their quality by transmission loss measurements, and gluing them into the system with a tuning-fork distance monitor.

Pratt Group

contact infromation
Prof. Tom Pratt

Research opportunities are available for undergraduate credit in the following areas:

  • Wireless Channel Modeling. The objective of this work will be the development of time varying statistical channel models for polarization-sensitive wireless communications systems. The work will involve Matlab-based statistical analysis of experimental data, model synthesis, and bit-error rate performance comparisons in actual channel and simulated channels.
  • Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture and Ground Penetrating Radar. This research activity will involve the investigation of new polarimetric remote sensing techniques for synthetic aperture radar and ground penetrating radar. Theoretical, simulation, and possibly experimental investigations will be conducted to evaluate the concepts.
  • Radio Frequency Coherent Sensor Development for Hydrological Monitoring. The goal of this work is to employ a wideband coherent channel receiver testbed to evaluate techniques for bistatic sensing of soil moisture. The work will involve field experimentation with sensing probes, RF collection, and signal processing with Matlab-based detection algorithms.
  • Radio Frequency Signal Detection Algorithms: This work will involve theoretical, simulation, and experimental investigation of detection algorithms for signals in noise and interference. Approaches to be considered include polarimetric, cyclostationary, and multi-antenna covariance-based techniques.
  • RF Polarization-Based Communications: The goal of this research is to consider RF polarization-based communications techniques as an overlay to existing communications schemes. The research will involve simulation and laboratory studies to support the development of these concepts.
  • Coding Schemes for CDMA and DSSS Systems: The goal of this research is to evaluate and develop coding schemes that exploit code set selection at the transmitter and multisymbol detection at the receiver. Work will focus on the evaluation of algorithms via simulation and also on the development of efficient simulations that leverage an NVIDIA TESLA GPU processing board in a Matlab/Simulink environment.

Undergraduates who elect to participate in this research will be required to attend a weekly meeting with Dr. Pratt, and must engage in an average of 3 hours of research each week per credit hour. A 15-page research report, an activity log (with hours recorded), and an oral presentation (and demonstration, if appropriate) are required at the conclusion of the research effort.

Seabaugh Group

contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~nano
seabaugh.1@nd.edu
230A Cushing, 1-4473

Undergraduate research projects are available in nanoelectronics, tunnel transistors, memory, energy conversion, or in new areas. Undergraduate researchers typically work closely and in parallel with graduate students to gain appreciation of graduate research.

Snider Group

contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~gsnider 
snider.7@nd.edu
275C Fitzpatrick Hall, 1-4148

 There are a number of undergraduate research opportunities available in the snider group.  Listed below are a couple of projects just to give a flavor of the research.  Other projects are also available.

1. Minimum Energy for Computation. Anyone who owns a laptop knows that power dissipation and the associated heat are a problem for the microelectronics industry.  As electronic devices scale down in size, they use less power (and hence energy), but is there a lower limit to the energy that must be dissipated by each device?  Recent experimental measurements by our have demonstrated our ability to measure energy dissipation in the range of a few hundred yJ (1 yJ is 10-24 J) and show that no minimum limits exist. We are now beginning measurements on ultra-low power CMOS circuits.  These experiments will point the way toward practical ultra-low power circuits. The projects available include building circuits and amplifiers for ultra-low-noise energy measurements as well as the actual measurements.  A student involved in these projects will gain experience in programming, fabrication, and measurement techniques.

2. Molecular Quantum-dot Cellular Automata.  This project is investigating the use of molecules as electronic devices.  Quantum-dot Cellular Automata is a computing paradigm that uses single electrons to encode information.  Molecules make excellent containers for single electrons, but the challenge is to control and measure the movement of electrons within the molecule.  Undergraduates involved in this experiment will work on the design of experiments and on the measurements of molecules and other devices.

 

Stevenson Group

contact information
rls@nd.edu
262 Fitzpatrick, 1-8308

Course Structure

The course is run as individual projects (sometimes 2 people team up to work together). After 2-3 weeks of meeting as a group, students select independent projects to work on for the rest of the semester. Meetings with Dr. Stevenson are then held individually once a week for approximately 1/2 hour. Meeting topics generally center around what was accomplished during the past week and current problems or goals.
At the end of the semester the student must
• prepare a written report (10-20 pages)
• give a fifteen minute presentation about the project to two faculty member

Grades are based on what was accomplished and the effort put forth by the student.

Research Topics
Dr. Stevenson's graduate research centers around image and video processing. Any project which can contribute to this effort is acceptable. Some successful example projects which were done in the past include:

• Image Filtering
• Video Filtering
• Parallel Image Processing
• Image Stabilization

Dr. Stevenson has plenty of projects which build on these examples and some which take a completely different direction. If the examples interest you stop by to talk to him about specific projects on which you may be able to contribute to as an undergraduate researcher.

        

Wistey Group

Wistey Group
contact information
http://www.nd.edu/~mwistey
mwistey@nd.edu
266 Fitzpatrick, 1-1639

Multijunction Solar Cells and III-V Lasers on Silicon

Solar cell efficiencies above 30% require multijunction photovoltaics with multiple bandgaps. These are currently grown on expensive germanium substrates. Furthermore, optoelectronics generally requires a semiconductor with a direct bandgap, but Si and Ge are both indirect. Recent discoveries have allowed the growth of defect-free thin films of Ge on Si. This project will test and extend these results to study whether this approach would be suitable for solar cells on silicon wafers and III-V lasers on CMOS chips.

 New Laser Materials on Silicon

 Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) can grow materials which would be impossible under normal thermodynamic conditions. It has been shown theoretically that adding dilute amounts of carbon to Ge films can dramatically alter the band structure of the Ge semiconductor, creating a direct bandgap. This could allow, for the first time, efficient lasers and optical transceivers to be grown directly on conventional Si CMOS chips. It may also improve the efficiency of simple bilayer Si/Ge solar cells. This project focuses on altering the band structure of Ge using dilute carbide alloys. Students on this project will assist in the fabrication of Ge devices, analyze alloys grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), and perform optical testing to evaluate the effectiveness of each technique. They will be exposed to a variety of ideas including the physics of band structure modification, materials science in epitaxial growth and wafer bonding, and electrical engineering in device design and fabrication.

Opportunities for followup research will continue through the following semester and/or school year.

Other exciting projects are ongoing. Contact Dr. Wistey for more details if you would like to join one or more of these.

Hope to get some good results soon!

 

Xing Group

contact information
Prof. Grace Xing
262 Fitzpatrick Hall
631-9108
hxing@nd.edu

Undergraduate Researcher positions are available year around.  Prof. Xing’s group is engaged in electronic material (growth, characterization) and devices/applications (design, fabrication and testing) enabled by these electronic materials.  The materials under investigation include GaN and 2-dimensional crystal families (graphene and MoS2 etc) and other compound semiconductors.  The UG researchers generally work closely with a highly interdisciplinary team and thus exposed to new frontiers of nano- and meta- materials, electronics and optics science and engineering. 

 Example projects include the following.

Project#1: 2D semiconductors and THz devices

Two-dimensional materials are currently one of the most rapidly developing areas in the field of electronic materials. A 2D material is a single layer from a layered material, where in-plane atomic interactions are strong, but there is minimal interaction between layers in the structure. The most well-known example is that of graphene: a single atomic layer of graphite.  A great deal of attention focused on graphene has resulted in rapid discovery of phenomena and material understanding.  A particularly compelling aspect of 2D materials is that different materials can be used in concert with minimal interaction due to the lack of dangling bonds at the surface.  Other 2D materials have been less explored so far, but are increasing in interest due to their promising electronic properties.  In our group, we investigate 2D material growth and characterization of boron nitride (BN: insulator) or molybdenum disulfide (MoS2: semiconductor) using a state-of-the-art chemical vapor deposition system.

THz waves, lying between the highest energy radio waves and the lowest energy infrared waves, are notoriously difficult to produce, detect, and modulate.  But they are important to harvest for a wide range of applications including communications, imaging, and spectroscopy.  Recently, for the first time, we show [1] that THz intensity modulation as high as 100% is achievable in electrically driven solid-state devices (similar to the transistors used in computers) by employing graphene, a naturally 2-dimensional semiconductor made of a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms.  The significance of a modulated wave is that it carries information; this finding thus paves exciting and new avenues to put THz waves at work in the near future.  [1] Berardi Sensale-Rodriguez, Rusen Yan, Michelle Kelly, Tian Fang, Kristof Tahy, Wan Sik Hwang, Debdeep Jena, Lei Liu and Huili (Grace) XingActive tuning of THz beam transmission using graphene.  Nature Communications, (2012).

 Project#2: GaN electronics and optoelectronics

Gallium nitride (GaN) research at Notre Dame, led by Profs. Debdeep Jena and Huili (Grace) Xing, is gaining increasing attention in the community.  In January 2010, the team reported in Science polarization-induced hole doping in GaN structures [a].  More recently, the team demonstrated the state-of-the-art GaN transistor speed of > 370 GHz [b], the highest reported in this material system.  These findings have been published in IEEE Electron Device Letters and Applied Physics Express [d] and highlighted by Semiconductor Today and APEX SPOTLIGHTs.  GaN transistors are promising candidates for high speed and high power applications, especially in the field of radio frequency (RF)