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Recent Vanderbilt ECE Happenings - Summer 2023

September 2023

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In research progress this week:  

·         Prof. Sharon Weiss  worked with an interdisciplinary team to use Porous Silicon and Polymer Nanoparticles for delivery of CRISPR with efficiencies twice that of the commercial standard. (Fletcher et al., 2022)

·         Prof. Dan Fleetwood  worked with an international team to organize and introduce the August 2023 Special Issue of IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science.  (Fleetwood et al., 2023)

·         Purboday Ghosh  and Prof. Gabor Karsai presented a solution for formal software validation of distributed cyber physical systems.(Ghosh & Karsai, 2023)

For the least recent breaking news in Scopus (published in 1994, but indexed by Scopus this week!), Samir Padalkar, Prof. Karsai, and Prof. Janos Sztipanovits collaborated with scientists at DuPont to create diagnosis / recovery applications in large-scale plants  (Padalkar et al., 1994) . Today, Samir is VP Data & IT at Omega Therapeutics, while Profs. Karsai and Sztipanovits are with us at Vanderbilt.

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As Fall schedules are settling into routines, I am energized by the diverse research throughout our labs.  For as long as I have been at Vanderbilt,  Undergraduate Research has been a fantastic opportunity for many students... just in the MASI lab, 90 undergraduates have earned 100 authorships in the peer-reviewed literature. These research courses count for technical elective credit and are central to the  ECE  Undergraduate Honors Program. Our undergraduate research interns’ post-graduation trajectories have been similarly stelar (including Google, Bloomberg, Meta, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Goldman Sachs, and, of course, academia).

Our long-standing approach to  immersive undergraduate research  engages students once they have completed the core coursework and are ready for rigorous technical exploration (which courses for a technical elective in our curriculum). A “problem” (opportunity?) that we have faced is that many students are enthusiastic for research from day one but have not yet developed a foundation in the  ECE  discipline. Last year, our faculty came together to create a new pathway for first- and second-year students to engage with labs early in their careers:   Introduction to Undergraduate Research. We are excited to welcome the first several students to our lab! I look forward to hearing feedback about how we can continually innovate in the process of discovery and address pressing global problem with fresh and creative perspectives. 

In research progress this week:   Mohammad Mr Khan  and  Prof. Jack Noble  worked an interdisciplinary team to characterize the impact of surgical instrument design on surgical approaches for inner ear surgery.(Cass et al., 2023)   Ikjun Hong and Chuchuan Hong  led a collaboration with Engineering and Vanderbilt Medical School to trap nanoscale biological particles using optical tweezers (senior author  Prof. Justus Ndukaife).(Hong et al., 2023)   Prof. Sokrates Pantelides  collaborated with an international team to characterize theoretical properties of a monolayer spin-spiral semiconductor.(Zhang et al., 2023)

August 2023

In research progress this week:  Sajal Islam led a team with research at the University of California, Santa Barbara (with Aditha Senarath, Arijit Sengupta, Dennis Ball,  and  Profs. Enxia Zhang, Daniel Fleetwood,  and  Ronald Schrimpf  at Vanderbilt) to empirically characterize the radiation response of βGa 2 O 3 , a ultrawide-bandgap material. (Islam et al., 2023)   Prof. Daniel Fleetwood  authored a review on radiation effects in AlGaN/GaN high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) and Ga 2 O 3  diodes, which are key technologies for modern sensing and next-generation power devices. (Fleetwood, 2023)

I would like to offer my exceptional appreciation to the ‘FGH 210 super-heroes.’ They have worked tirelessly this summer to setup new computers, software, and device components to support two modernized labs in the same classroom. We have new teaching equipment and refreshed whiteboard too!

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(left to right)  Prof Shervin Hajiamini,  Qi Zhang,   Prof. Alan Peters, Prof. Ashwaq Zaini Binti Amat,  Zixiang Guo,  Prof. Art Witulski

[Couldn’t make the photo: Prof. Gabor Karsai, Bharat Bhuva, and Eric Nupp]

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Our summer travel  ECE  t-shirt winners (entries below) were (from farthest to closest travels):  Arijit Sengupta   (Kolkata, India),  Nazirah Mohd Khairi   (Penang Island, Malaysia),  Cassidy Slabaugh   (Alaska),   Prof. Mono Ebrish  (Chicago),  and  Chenyu Gao  (Nashville). We will be in touch with how to pick up your prizes.

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Our community members had great news this week:

·         Prof. Ebrish  received an  Air Force Office of Scientific Research award.

·         Prof. Justus Ndukaife  received the 2023 Kaminow Outstanding Early Career Professional Prize by  Optica .

In research progress this week: Profs. Benoit Dawant and Dario Englot collaborated with an international team to explore structural brain differences in essential tremor and Parkinson's disease deep brain stimulation patients.(Franco et al., 2023) Chuchuan Hong and Prof. Ndukaife developed a new approach for scalable trapping of single nanosized extracellular vesicles using plasmonics.(Hong & Ndukaife, 2023)

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I am excited to close out summer 2023 with a huge thank you and congratulations. While the classrooms have be quiet, our scholars, students, and visitors from around the world have kept the energy level buzzing. Even more great things are coming – Prof. Daniel Moyer (Computer Science) led a successful proposal to bring the  Mid-TN AI for Interdisciplinary Imaging Interpretation Alliance (AI4A)  to life. Comprised of the School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Fisk University, Tennessee Tech, and Tennessee State University, AI4I will support senior undergraduate students on an AI-imaging topic and provide time with large computational resources while building regional collaborations. Go Mid-TN! Go Dors!

Our community members had several big wins this week:

·         Hannah Dattilo  won best poster award at a recent Industrial Advisory Board meeting of Electronic-Photonic Integrated Circuits for Aerospace (EPICA) with more than 10 companies and government agencies represented at this meeting.

·         Chuchuan Hong and Prof. Justus C. Ndukaife’s  Scalable trapping of single nanosized extracellular vesicles using plasmonics article was released by  Nature Communications .

·         Prof. Ndukaife’s  $1.9M from National Institutes of Health to build on foundational knowledge of nanoscale cellular particles  hit the presses .

In research progress this week: Prof. Daniel Fleetwood authored a review of low-frequency noise in nanowires.(Fleetwood, 2023) Sen Yang and Prof. Ndukaife showed that optofluidics and high-Q all-dielectric nanostructures hold enormous potential in high-sensitivity biosensing applications.(Yang & Ndukaife, 2023) Prof. Benoit Dawant and team studied the  correlation between whole cochlear magnetic resonance imaging with a novel automated segmentation method and hearing levels, both at diagnosis and over time, in patients with observed vestibular schwannoma. (Cass et al., 2023)   Prof. Catie Chang  engaged with a multi-institution team to characterize multimodal neuroimaging data for a biofeedback randomized clinical trial.(Yoo et al., 2023) Kaiwen Xu led large Vanderbilt team with Profs. Yuankai Huo and Bennett Landman studying how body composition influenced lung cancer risk estimation.(Xu et al., 2023)

Finally, Prof. Chang authored a book, “Advances in Resting-State Functional MRI: Methods, Interpretation, and Applications”(Chen & Chang, 2023), now available on  Amazon  … be the first to review it on  Goodreads !

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Yoni Xiong  received the Best Student Paper award at the IEEE Nuclear & Space Radiation Effects Conference (NSREC) 2022.  Yoni was awarded for her paper "Scaling Trends for Single-Event Cross-Section for Conventional D-FF at Bulk FinFET Technology Nodes". Her “paper provides valuable insights to Single Event Effects in highly-scaled technology nodes and is expected to have a significant impact on radiation effects research for years to come.” This award was recognized at NSREC 2023 in Kansas City, MO, USA on July 25th, 2023 (photo below).

Prof. Justus  Ndukaife  earned a prestigious NIH MIRA award for Outstanding the Heterogeneity of Nanoscale Extracellular Vesicles, Exomeres, and Supermeres using Next Generation Optical Nanotweezers. Nanosized extracellular vesicles and particles (EVPs) have been identified as an important means for cells to communicate with neighboring and distant cells. EVPs are actively investigated to understand their roles in cancer, non-invasive disease diagnosis, and therapeutics. One of the most significant urgent challenges to overcome in EVP research is understanding the heterogeneity of EVPs. Ndukaife will investigate the use of these tools to address ongoing controversies in EV research. The proposed research program will greatly improve our ability to understand the heterogeneity of EVPs, address ongoing controversies and guide the nature of future scientific questions to be investigated in the EVP research field.

In research progress this week, Prof. Yurui Gao led a multi-institution effort with Profs. Zhaohua Ding and Bennett Landman to characterize functional alterations in brain networks.(Gao et al., 2023) Their team proposed a bipartite graph model to quantify WM-GM FC network and its properties and assessed age effects on functional connectivity network properties. They found heterogeneous FC changes in lifespan but mainly declines in later years and declined global efficiencies of major networks in lifespan or later years.

July 2023

Our ECE researchers have had many amazing successes this summer:

·         Isabella Wynocker  will travel to  Toulouse, France in September  to present her work on radiation effects on memory drives in space environments as the only undergraduate researcher of five authors to win  best student abstract for RADECS 2023 .

·         Prof. Justus Ndukaife  was named an  Nanoscale 2023 Emerging Investigator .

·         Prof. Monda Ebrish  (PI) and ISDE team proposal to DARPA was awarded. The proposal was for the SPCE Program to Push Beyond Power Limitations in Space. The award is part of Technical Area2: Fundamental Device Exploration. TA2 will be a two-phase program effort with a 20-month Phase 1 (Base) and an 18-month Phase 2 (Option). The program is managed by DARPA program Manger Dr. Jason Woo while ONR is providing contracting support for this effort. The proposal will focus on focus on designing, fabricating, optimizing and testing High Electron Mobility Transistors (HEMTs) for space applications.   

On the publication front, the last full week of July was eventful! Hao Jia spearheaded an international collaboration on proton radiation effects on optically transduced silicon carbide microdisk resonators with Profs. Enxia Zhang, Robert Reed, Ronald Schrimpf, and Michael Alles.(Jia et al., 2023) Prof. Benoit Dawant optimized pathways for using machine learning in cochlear implants.(Patro et al., 2023)  Prof. Muwei Li led an effort mapping changes in white matter functional networks across late adulthood with ECE faculty Profs. Zhaohua Ding, Kurt Schilling, and Bennett Landman.(Li et al., 2023) On a fun note, Kaiwen Xu’s work on using AI-based body composition analysis to inform lung cancer screened received an editorial in the journal Radiology.(Fintelmann, 2023)

It looks like we are getting a cool and sunny weekend that is perfect to enjoy Tennessee’s great outdoors (whether it be one of our  56 state parks and over 500 waterfalls  or  Vanderbilt’s own arboretum ). In preparation for the upcoming year, our team is working on a soft launch of ECE on  Instagram  and  Threads . We are new to this space, so feedback is most welcome. One of our first projects is to celebrate the careers and successes of our fantastic ECE summer interns:  Alexa Eby, Brennan Nicol, Ema Topolnjak, Hanliang  Xu, Javier Olmos, Jonathan Brewer, Kate Wang, Kevin Xi, Moreen Habib, Omar Khan, Rithwik Guntaka, Shunnar Virani, Tian Yu, Wesley Schelling, Yunhe Li, and Ziyuan Xu .* Check in with us on any of the social media platforms to learn more about their projects.

As the heat relaxes a bit, it is a great time to pick up a book (or newly published journal article) and read in the summer shade. Our researchers minted a good selection this week. Tian Yu (CS undergraduate student, also summer 2023 intern!) led an international, multi-institutional effort to improve accuracy of functional magnetic resonance imaging, while releasing containerized, open-source code that already has five-stars on GitHub (with ECE faculty: Profs. Dario Englot, Laurie Cutting, Catie Chang, Bennett Landman, and Kurt Schilling).(Yu et al., 2023) Leon Cai advanced magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging to better understand brain white matter loss in children with type 1 diabetes (with Prof. Landman).(Jordan Rewers et al., 2023) Prof. Yuankai Huo worked with an international consortium to perform a systemic review of reproducibility in deep learning for medical imaging.(Moassefi et al., 2023) Prof. Shunxing Bao worked with Profs. Landman and Huo to apply deep learning to the advanced histopathology technique, multiplex immunofluorescence.(Bao et al., 2021) On the devices side of our efforts, Prof. Sokrates Pantelides worked with an international consortium to develop ultrafast-programmable semiconductors.(Wang et al., 2023)

July marked the end of a long string of firsts for me in hosting the international conference on Medical Imaging with Deep Learning (MIDL) on campus. With the immense help of our co-chairs Profs. Benoit Dawant and Ipek Oguz along with the  Local Organizing Committee , we brough over 200 scientists to Nashville from 30 countries and 5 continents. In addition to sharing science, we highlighted the amazing experience available on campus from the things we might take for granted (visitors stayed in the E. Bronson Ingram College, and we ate together in Rand) to the exceptional connections between Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (with tours and live demonstrations in the  Vanderbilt Institute of Surgery and Engineering ). We combined science with Nashville’s vibrant cultural scene with a reception in the National Museum for African American Music (NMAAM). NMAAM has a phenomenal interactive gallery and interesting music history artifacts. Vanderbilt is a NMAAM partner, and students receive  free entry with their Vanderbilt ID badges .

We are starting off this fiscal year with robust research news. Zongru Li led an academic-industry collaboration with Prof. Bharat Bhuva to study how fully depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) with radiation-hardening techniques can improve the performance of computer circuits in resisting errors caused by radiation, with different designs showing significant reductions in errors compared to a regular design, and proper layout arrangement being important for achieving the best results (Li et al., 2023). By using historical radiation data, Richard Nederlander (working with Profs. Art Witulski, Robert Reed, Gabor Karsai, Enxia Zhang, and Ron Schrimpf and Goddard Space Flight Center) showed that device-level failure probabilities can be used in a system-level reliability model to estimate the likelihood of failures and could decrease uncertainty during early design stages or projects with limited radiation test budgets (Nederlander et al., 2023).  To address the challenges of trapping and manipulating individual exosomes, Chuchuan Hong, Sen Yang, and Prof. Justus Ndukaife have developed a new method using a high stability opto-thermo-electrohydrodynamic tweezer that utilizes laser illumination and an alternating current field through a concentric nanohole array to trap single exosomes several microns away from the laser focus, enabling rapid trapping and selective manipulation based on size with minimal risk of photo-induced damage (Hong et al., 2023). To enhance the performance of encoder-decoder neural networks in medical image segmentation, Ho Hin Lee with Prof. Bennett Landman’s lab developed a new approach leveraging semantic-aware contrastive learning to embed different object labels into distinct clusters, resulting in substantial improvements in multi-object semantic segmentation tasks across several major medical imaging challenges (Lee et al., 2021).

June 2023

As we all close the longest daylight of the year and enjoy the last  few later sunsets , our ECE department has been largely looking outward. In 3 weeks, we will host scientists from 33 countries at the Medical Imaging with Deep Learning Conference (including, Australia, Austria, Belgium, …). With the support of Vanderbilt’s sesquicentennial, we are highlighting Vanderbilt beautiful campus with the assistance of the Student Life Center while branching into the community with events in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music and Parthenon. Focusing on our regional community, we are  Scaling Success   with the support of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) to build a Mid-TN AI for Interdisciplinary Imaging Interpretation Alliance (AI4A). Over the next 6 months, we look forward to deepening partnership in AI with Fisk, TSU, and TennTech.

Prof. Yuankai Huo ’s collaborated with a broad consortium to study fatty liver diease for this week’s research highlight. (Torgersen et al., 2023) Their deep characterized the performance of Dr. Huo’ deep learning algorithm (automatic liver attenuation region-of-interest-based measurement [ALARM]) to identify steatosis within clinically obtained non-contrast abdominal CT images. His method compared favorably with manual radiologist review.

Chloe Champagne (graduate student, below) presented her research “Including Survivors in Probabilistic TID Failure Assessment” at NASA Goddard’s Electronics Technology Workshop.  

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Kellen Arnold(graduate student) is working with a National Science Foundation Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (NSF IUCRC) to present “Harsh Environment Testing, Validation and Understanding of Silicon Photonics.” Prof. Art Witulski presented “Development of SEB-Immune High Voltage SiC Power Devices for Lunar Applications.”

Our research-in-review continues with the theme of advancing in understanding electronic devices. Zixiang Guo led an international team with Profs. Enxia Zhang, Robert Reed, Ronald Schrimpf, and Daniel Fleetwood along with Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC, Belgium).(Guo et al., 2023) There efforts studies total-ionizing-dose (TID) effects in back-gated IGZO thin-film transistors.

The  Biomedical Image Analysis for Image Guided Interventions Laboratory (BAGL)  (led by Prof. Jack Noble) had a banner week in publishing. Katelyn Berg led a multi-university/industry collaboration in cochlear implants with Prof. Noble characterizing the effects of the number of channels and stimulation rate on speech recognition and around quality.(Berg et al., 2023) Rueben Banalagay and Prof. Noble developed an image processing technique using deep learning to identify the chorda tympani.(Banalagay & Noble, 2023)  Hannah Mason and Prof. Noble combined traditional image processing and deep learning to map the internal auditory canal.(Mason & Noble, 2023) Erin Bratu, Ziteng Liu, and Prof. Noble studied the influence of auditory nerve fiber model parameters on electrical stimulus thresholds.(Bratu et al., 2023) Angie Lou led an effort with Prof. Noble to identified the 3-D position of surgical instrument from a single camera image.(Lou et al., 2023) Yike Zhang and Prof. Noble identified the ossicles to advance AI-enabled surgery of the inner ear.(Zhang & Noble, 2023)

The Medical Image Processing (MIP) lab led by Prof. Benoit Dawant had an active week in publishing. Dingjie Su led an engineering-medical collaboration creating image processing method for post-surgical imaging involving the amygdalohippocampectomy resection cavity.(Su et al., 2023) Yubo Fan led an interdisciplinary team used deep learning to reduce dependence on multi-modal imaging to advance cochlear implant preoperative planning.(Fan et al., 2023)

At the recent SPIE conferences, Dr. Cailey Kerley (recently graduated from VU  ECE ) led an effort to assess deep learning with autoencoders with imaging and health records with  Profs. Laurie Cutting and Bennett Landman. (Kerley et al., 2023)

In the IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, Dr. Mariia Gorchichko (former graduate student in ECE) led a collaboration with Profs. Ronald Schimpf, Robert Reed, Brian Sierawski, Michael Alles, and Daniel Fleetwood along with University of California at Los Angeles  to characterize programming/erasing (P/E) and total-ionizing dose (TID) are investigated on 2-and 40-fin charge-trap transistors (CTTs) fabricated in a 14-nm bulk-Si CMOS technology. (Gorchichko et al., 2023)

May 2023

In the past year, we have participated in conference organization for over a dozen conferences including the Electronic Material Conference, European Conference on Radiation Effects, Frontiers in Pathogen Detection, GOMACTech Conference, Hardened Electronics and Radiation Technology (HEART), IEEE Radiation Effects on Components and Systems (RADECS) Conference, IEEE Research and Applications of Photonics in Defense Conference (RAPID), International Vacuum Nanoelectronics Conference, International Scientific Committee, Porous Semiconductors, Medical Image Computing Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI), Medical Imaging with Deep Learning (MIDL), Nuclear and Space Radiation Effects Conference, SPIE Medical Imaging, SPIE Optical Trapping and Manipulation, and SPIE Optics and Photonics.

Prof. Dan Fleetwood led an international collaboration for the discovery of the week. (Bonaldo & Fleetwood, 2023)

Graduate students Theodore Anyika and Chuchuan Hong (Graduate Students in ECE) worked with Prof. Justus C. Ndukaife to perform high-speed nanoscale optical trapping with a novel plasmonic double nanohole aperture device. (Anyika et al., 2023) Prof. Dan Fleetwood described interface traps, correlated mobility fluctuations, and low-frequency noise in metal–oxide–semiconductor transistors in Applied Physics Letters. (Fleetwood, 2023)

Dr. Bennett Landman has been selected as the next Editor-in-Chief of the SPIE Journal of Medical Imaging (effective January 1, 2024)! Congratulations! 

Patrick Darmawi-Iskandar  was  selected  as this year’s  Founder’s Medalist   for the School of Engineering. Darmawi-Iskandar studied electrical and computer engineering and was a SyBBURE Searle research fellow at the Institute for Space and Defense Electronics where he examined the effects of radiation on carbon nanotube field-effect transistors.

Zakariyya Samer Al-Quran  earned the  2023 Program Award for Computer Engineering , and  Kush Jayesh Hari  earned the  2023 Program Award for Electrical Engineering .