Photo of Spencer Liverman and Thinh Nguyen.
Spencer Liverman (left) and Thinh Nguyen (right) are co-principal investigators with Arun Natarajan on a Navy contract.

E-Lambda LLC, an Oregon State University spin-off, was just awarded a Navy Small Business Innovation Research contract for $225,000 to develop a high-speed, secure, wireless communication system for underwater platforms.

Alan Wang, associate professor of electrical and computer science in the College of Engineering, co-founded E-Lambda LLC with his graduate student, Jyotindra Shakya, to commercialize research from the Engineering Photonic Research Laboratory.

The Navy contract is the first project for E-Lambda. The principal investigator for this Navy SBIR project is Spencer Liverman, a Ph.D. student in in Dr. Wang’s group. Thinh Nguyen, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Arun Natarajan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering serve as co-principal investigators.

For the network they will be developing free space optical technologies, using lasers to transmit high-speed data. Potential commercial applications include an alternative to Wi-Fi, smart-home technology, and secure communication infrastructure for governmental agencies such as FBI and CIA.

Kenneth Squire did not know what to expect when attending his first academic conference — SPIE Photonics West 2018, a conference about light-based science and technology. So, he was pretty surprised to take home two awards.

“It’s really exciting to get that recognition and to know that I am capable of doing research and presenting my findings at that level,” said Squire, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.

Squire’s research advances techniques to detect antigens such as biotoxins that can infect food or biomarkers for disease. His research is under the direction of Alan Wang, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who heads the Engineering Photonics Research Laboratory in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The paper for which Squire received the Prizmatix Young Investigator Award was “Ultra-sensitive fluorescent imaging-biosensing using biological photonic crystals.”

In this research, Squire, along with Dr. Xianming Kong and other collaborators, were able to enhance the optical signals for florescence imaging using diatoms, which are single-celled algae.

“The hope is that this can be used for cellphone based biosensors,” Squire said. Sensitivity is the challenge for developing sensors that can be used outside of pristine laboratory conditions.

“Using these diatoms, we were able to enhance the sensitivity. So, even though your equipment isn’t quite as good, and even though you don’t have the perfect conditions, you can still get detection levels that are practical,” Squire said.

They have applied for a patent on the technology and are currently working on an application to detect a biomarker for cardiovascular disease.

Squire’s second award at the conference was runner up for Best Student Presentation for his paper entitled, “Facile detection of toxic ingredients in seafood using biologically enabled photonic crystal materials.“

This research utilized the fossilized remains of diatoms, called diatomaceous earth, which is sometimes used for filters. The device that Squire, Kong and collaborators developed was able to separate the target from other material in the sample, and enhance the optical signals for better detection of biotoxins that can infect food.

The study demonstrated successful detection of Sudan I, an illegal carcinogenic dye, in various chili products, and histamine, a naturally occurring toxin, in seafood that was intentionally contaminated and in decomposing tuna.

The device, called a thin layer chromatography plate, separates the target molecule from the rest of the sample matrix and enhances the performance of the detection.  The detection method that was employed uses scattered light from a laser which creates a unique fingerprint for different molecules (surface-enhanced Raman scattering).

“The Photonics West conference was a great opportunity to present our work.  Leading up to the conference, many of our group members were instrumental in the preparation and polishing of the presentations that led to these awards and I am very grateful to them for their help and support,” Squire said.

Abstracts

Ultra-sensitive fluorescent imaging-biosensing using biological photonic crystals

Kenneth Squire, Xianming Kong, Paul LeDuff, Gregory Rorrer, Alan X. Wang

Optical biosensing is a growing area of research known for its low limits of detection.  Among optical sensing techniques, fluorescence detection is among the most established and prevalent.  Fluorescence imaging is an optical biosensing modality that exploits the sensitivity of fluorescence in an easy-to-use process. Fluorescence imaging allows a user to place a sample on a sensor and use an imager, such as a camera, to collect the results.  The image can then be processed to determine the presence of the analyte.  Fluorescence imaging is appealing because it can be performed with as little as a light source, a camera and a data processor thus being ideal for nontrained personnel without any expensive equipment.  Fluorescence imaging sensors generally employ an immunoassay procedure to selectively trap analytes such as antigens or antibodies.  When the analyte is present, the sensor fluoresces thus transducing the chemical reaction into an optical signal capable of imaging.  Enhancement of this fluorescence leads to an enhancement in the detection capabilities of the sensor.  Diatoms are unicellular algae with a biosilica shell called a frustule.  The frustule is porous with periodic nanopores making them biological photonic crystals.  Additionally, the porous nature of the frustule allows for large surface area capable of multiple analyte binding sites.  In this paper, we fabricate a diatom based ultra-sensitive fluorescence imaging biosensor capable of detecting the antibody mouse immunoglobulin down to a concentration of 1 nM.  The measured signal has an enhancement of 6× when compared to sensors fabricated without diatoms.

 

Facile detection of toxic ingredients in seafood using biologically enabled photonic crystal materials

Xianming Kong, Kenneth Squire, and Alan X. Wang

Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectroscopy has attracted considerable attention recently as a powerful detection platform in biosensing because of the wealth of inherent information ascertained about the chemical and molecular composition of a sample. However, real-world samples are often composed of many components, which renders the detection of constitutes of mixed samples very challenging for SERS sensing. Accordingly, separation techniques are needed before SERS measurements. Thin layer chromatography (TLC) is a simple, fast and cost-effective technique for analyte separation and can a play pivotal role for on-site sensing. However, combining TLC with SERS is only successful to detect a limited number of analytes that have large Raman scattering cross sections. As a kind of biogenic amine, histamine (2-(4-imidazolyl)-ethylamine) has a relationship with many health problems resulting from seafood consumption occurring worldwide. Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. As a kind of natural photonic biosilica from geological deposits, it has a variety of unique properties including highly porous structure, excellent adsorption capacity, and low cost. In addition, the two dimensional periodic pores on diatomite earth with hierarchical nanoscale photonic crystal features can enhance the localized optical field. Herein, we fabricate TLC plates from diatomite as the stationary phase combining with SERS to separate and detect histamine from seafood samples. We have proved that the diatomite on the TLC plate not only functions as stationary phase, but also provides additional Raman enhancement, in which the detection limit of 2 ppm was achieved for pyrene in mixture.

Gabor Temes, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, will recieve the 2017 University Research Award from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). The award recognizes his excellence in research for contributions in interface electronics, including analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, switched-capacitor filters and amplifiers, and sensor interfaces.

Temes has a 60-year career that has spanned industry and academia. His research in the area of analog integrated circuits – the interface between the “real” analog world and digital signal processors – has improved the quality of sound and data communications.

He holds 14 patents and has more than 500 publications, including several books. His long career has earned him many accolades including the IEEE Kirchhoff Award and election to the National Academy of Engineering.

He will  receive the award in conjunction with the SIA Annual Award Dinner on Nov. 14, 2017 in San Jose, Calif.

Workshop participants at Oregon State University.
Researchers from all over the world gathered at Oregon State for “Frontiers in Metrology Techniques for Magnetic Nanodevices”

Researchers from universities, national laboratories, and tech companies came to Oregon State University this July to discuss needs and challenges in measuring the performance of magnetic nanodevices.

This first-time workshop, called “Frontiers in Metrology Techniques for Magnetic Nanodevices” drew participants from as far away as Japan, Belgium and the United Kingdom. It was jointly organized by Pallavi Dhagat, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Thomas Silva at the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

The purpose of the workshop was to bring together researchers from diverse areas working on magnetic nanotechnologies to share information that could spark collaborations and advance the field. The format of the workshop emphasized networking and encouraged sharing unpublished and ongoing work.

Ania Bleszynski Jayich
Ania Bleszynski Jayich, associate professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, attended the workshop at Oregon State University.

“The targeted goals of the workshop made for productive and highly relevant discussions and networking,” said Ania Bleszynski Jayich, associate professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara. “As a physicist with a basic research approach, it was instructive to discover several close connections to industrial needs, and thus I was able to initiate several important relationships that will hopefully flourish in upcoming years.”

Although there are several conferences in the field of magnetism this was the first international workshop that was focused solely on metrology. Attendees gave very positive feedback and indicated they would like it to become a biennial event.

“It was very fruitful. We were often behind schedule because the talks were generating so many discussions,” said Hans Nembach, senior research associate at University of Colorado, Boulder. “It’s a great format, we should certainly have it again.”

Support for the workshop was provided by Oregon State University, Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute and Intel.

Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez
Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez speaking at the Electrical Systems Resilience and the Cascadia Subduction Zone Event course.

Oregon State University in collaboration with Portland State University held a one-day course on June 30, 2017 for power systems engineers and related professionals concerned with solutions to the threat of Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquakes and tsunamis.

The course was part of a grant from the Oregon Talent Council to support training for the Oregon workforce in disaster preparedness as it relates to electrical system resiliency.

Members of 17 different companies or other organizations came to the event including representatives from the Bonneville Power Administration, Portland General Electric, Central Lincoln PUD, Pacific Power and the Eugene Water and Electric Board.

The speakers were Ted Brekken, Jinsub Kim, Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez of Oregon State University; Leon Kempner of the Bonneville Power Administration; and Yumei Wang from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

Ted Brekken
Ted Brekken presenting at the Electrical Systems Resilience course.

Videos from the Oregon State speakers are available on a playlist at the OSU EECS YouTube Channel. Or the individual talks are:

Other training supported by the Oregon Talent Council grant includes an on-campus course that Brekken taught in the spring term of 2017, and an on-line course that will be released this summer by the Oregon State University Office of Professional and Continuing Education meant for practicing professionals.

2017 Rohde & Schwarz Engineering Competition team photo.
Braxton Cuneo, Erich Kramer, Andy Tolvstad, Karen Harper, and Aaron Schraner (left to right) advanced to the world final of the 2017 Rohde & Schwarz Engineering Competition.

Five students in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science will be heading to Germany this summer to compete in the 2017 Rohde & Schwarz Engineering Competition. Their performance in the U.S. preliminary round earned them a spot at the world league competition.

Aaron Schraner, an electrical and computer engineering student, was motivated to compete since he participated last year on a team from the Oregon Institute of Technology that won the 2016 regional competition. Based on his experience there, he recruited Karen Harper for additional electrical engineering knowledge. All the other team members are in computer science:  Braxton Cuneo, Erich Kramer, and Andy Tolvstad.

Their task was to make improvements to software for a digital-signal processing application that could ultimately make video streaming better. Specifically, they were asked to speed up the processing of the software-based DVB-T2-Coder, based on the open source GNU Radio project, while maintaining accuracy.

“Signal processing is traditionally very, very computationally intensive, so any optimizations you can get out of something like that are going to be very beneficial to your workflow,” Andrew Tolvstad said.

“There was one loop we optimized that was run about 1.2 million times,” Karen Harper agreed.

“Just by changing a data type that was 32-bits wide to one that was 64-bits wide, we took another 5 to 10 percent off the total amount of time it took to run the program,” Aaron Schraner said.

During the competition, students made improvements to the code that was then automatically compiled and tested for performance once they submitted it via Git. Rohde & Schwarz continuously published a leader board of the top performing teams so the teams could watch their ranking move up or down.

The team members are excited to have an all-expenses paid trip to Germany, and are squeezing the trip into very busy lives of classes and internships. They also have a chance to win $3,000 for the top prize, $1,500 for second place, and $750 for third place.

But the money was not the only objective.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Tolvstad said. “Just the thrill of trying to take something and make it the best it can possibly be by just rearranging its parts.”

This final will be held in Munich, Germany at the Rohde & Schwarz headquarters. Rohde & Schwarz is a privately held company with over 10,000 employees worldwide, including a design center in Beaverton.

Kedi Yan (electrical & computer engineering) and Nick Wong (computer science) work on their self-playing guitar. More photos in the OSU EECS Flickr album.

“Gadgets and Gizmos” was the theme for the first HWeekend of 2017 on January 20-22, jointly sponsored by the College of Business and the College of Engineering.

In just one weekend, forty-seven students from business and engineering designed, built, and pitched their idea for a marketable product including temperature based alarm clock, a computer controlled potato launcher, a 3-D printed longboard fender, and a self-playing guitar.

It was the seventh iteration of the popular event that provides students from different disciplines an opportunity to work together in teams. Students came from a variety majors including business, bioengineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, environmental engineering, and mechanical engineering.

“This event is really cool, because I get to do things that I normally don’t get to do in my major,” said Alec Westbrook, a chemical engineering student who worked on the 3D printed longboard fender project. “I mean, how often can a guy that is mixing chemicals all day work with his hands and create something new?”

Photo of potato launch team.
The potato launch team tests out their device. More photos in the OSU EECS Flickr album.

This event allowed students to make use of the new Buxton Hall Makerspace and Mastery Challenge lounge, which gave students access to 3-D printing, soldering irons, a drill press, laser cutting, and UV ink logo printing.

Mentors for this HWeekend included six industry members from Intel and two from Microsemi.

“People here are really excited about the things they are making,” said Aayush Pathak, a silicon architecture engineer from Intel who attended HWeekend as a mentor. “And to be a part of it and share what I have seen in my school and life — it’s a proud feeling.”

Staff from both the College of Business and the College of Engineering also helped mentor students through the creation and marketing of their projects.

“It’s an incredibly valuable partnership between business and engineering,” said Dale McCauley, the makerspace manager for the College of Business. “The students are getting the chance to build relationships that ordinarily wouldn’t form. If you get business students to understand how engineers think and vice versa, I think that is valuable.”

At the end of the weekend, the students received group awards for their dedication and hard work. The Executors award goes to the team that produces the best engineering execution of their idea to create the most polished final product, the Helping Hand is for the team that contributes the most to other teams, and the InnovationX Pitch awards go to two teams who had the best business pitches for selling their prototypes.

Photo of temperature-based alarm clock team.
The temperature-based alarm clock team works out their design.

Award winners

Executor: Temperature Based Alarm Clock team. The team included members Noah Hoffman, Taylor Johnston, Alexia Patterson, and Abdurrahman Elmaghbub.

Helping Hands: Checkpoint team. The team included members Andrey Kornilovich and Graham Barber

InnovationX Pitch: Checkpoint team and Temperature Based Alarm Clock team.

Story by Taylor Mrzena

Ziad EldebriGraduate student Ziad Eldebri was the winner of the Lattice Hackathon Contest hosted by Lattice Semiconductor. He was awarded the grand prize of $5,000 and a trip to the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Eldebri competed against other students across the country to create an original idea on how to improve a battery powered device using Lattice FPGA. Eldebri’s winning idea was to develop a LIPO battery charger that could be used in any product that uses Lattice FPGAs.

“It was awesome, because I got to attend the Consumer Electronics Show and see state of the art electronics that ranged from 3D printed cars to drones that will talk to you,” Eldebri said. “I also got to learn more about Lattice Products and FPGAs.”

The goal of the competition was to create new ideas on how we can use FPGAs to improve our lives and the electronic devices that we use every day.

Story by Taylor Mrzena

Photo at the 30th Annual Small Satellite Conference in Utah.
Helena Bales poses with her lab group at in front of the NASA booth at the 30th Annual Small Satellite Conference. From left to right, Hollis Neel, Graham Grable, Megan Le Corre, Roger Hunter, David Cotten, Khoa Ngo, Paige Copenhaver, Nirav Ilango, Helena Bales, Caleb Adams. Paige and Caleb hold an engineering model of a cubesat launched by NASA.

Guest post by Helena Bales

I had an amazing experience this summer at the University of Georgia working in the Small Satellite Research Lab. The lab was founded by undergraduate students, myself included, partnering with professors, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force. Space seems impossibly far away and hard to get to, but with the increased popularity and strength of the small satellite community, it is now easier than ever to reach, even for self-funded, undergraduate engineering students.

We started as a small group of students and created a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of launching a small satellite into orbit. Most of the students on the project were at the University of Georgia (UGA). We had reached out to faculty members in the UGA geography department to see if they wanted a science payload to fly on our CubeSat. CubeSats are small satellites of a specific size. For example, a “1U” CubeSat is 10 cm wide, 10 cm deep, and 11 cm tall. The standard size has aided the commercialization of space.

SPOC mission patch
The mission patch for the Small Satellite that will perform multi-spectral analyses of the Georgia coast.

Currently, we have two CubeSat projects and about 20 members. The CubeSats launch off the International Space Station. One will look at Earth in order to track sediment plumes, algal blooms, and chemical runoff around Georgia. The other will create 3D maps of large geographic features such as mountains. We couldn’t have dreamed that this project would end up where it is now — a lab run by undergraduate students with two fully funded satellite projects.

My role in the lab is to develop the algorithms that we need to accomplish our mission objectives. That mostly involves adapting existing algorithms for use on orbit. Running software on orbit has different limitations than on the ground, so the software needs to be adjusted accordingly. For example, when dealing with space, engineers must take account of power shortages, overheating, and time limitations that might compromise transmission of data. Fortunately, we know these constraints ahead of time. With careful planning and testing, we can insure that our code will run on orbit.

The process of developing cube satellites posed both unique opportunities and struggles. As undergrads, trying to figure out how to build two satellites, we are all learning together. And the experience of working at the Small Satellite Research Lab is incomparable to most undergraduate experiences, because of the nature of the project and the close relationships developed through solving problems in space. Balancing the demands of the project takes a close-knit group of scientists and engineers and communication between group members. Through the experience we have built a productive lab and became close friends.

MOCI patch
The mission patch for the Small Satellite that will create 3D point clouds of large geographic features.

Eight of our members (myself included) received scholarships to attend the Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah. At that conference we had the opportunity to attend six days of talks about every aspect of small satellite missions. We all learned more than we could have imagined. We were also able to network with industry professionals from organizations like NASA and SpaceX. That week opened our eyes to issues that we hadn’t thought about yet, and introduced us to new satellite hardware vendors. When we returned from the conference, we were equipped to onboard new lab members, finalize our payloads, design our ground station, and plan outreach events.

Despite ongoing encouragement and success, we continue to struggle with getting the funding that we need to make a lab that can support multiple space missions. For example, using space-grade hardware requires a cleanroom in order to assemble our satellite to meet the standards set by NASA and the U.S. Air Force, who have each funded our missions. The funding we’ve received for the projects assumes that there is already a lab that is outfitted with all the supplies necessary to build and test a CubeSat, so we face the additional hurdle of establishing our lab.

I’m proud to be part of a group that welcomes challenges instead taking the easy route — an important characteristic for the next generation of scientists and engineers solving problem in the limitless reaches of space. With creativity and persistence, the University of Georgia Small Satellite Research Lab is pushing itself and reaching new heights.

—————

Author biography:

Helena Bales grew up in Portland and is a senior in computer science. In addition to her ongoing work at the UGA Small Satellite Research Lab, she works on campus as a software developer at the Valley Library. She spent last summer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center developing applications for the daily operation of the International Space Station. Her internships have fueled her interest in space and she plans to pursue a career in the aerospace industry after graduation.

Lizbeth Marquez and Nick Malos
Lizbeth Marquez and Nick Malos, advisors for the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science pose with Benny the Beaver.

In their role as advisors, Lizbeth Marquez and Nick Malos help hundreds of students in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science navigate their way through college. Their goal is to help students succeed and ultimately earn their Oregon State degrees. According to a recent report from the Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education, only 60 percent of college freshmen get a bachelor’s degree within six years. While there are many reasons students don’t complete their degrees, Lizbeth and Nick have some advice to offer to help you succeed.

Lizbeth’s Advice

  1. Get Organized
    College can be different from high school in that high school teachers tend to lead you through all the homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments — often for the entire semester — and expect you to be prepared. Get a planner, use a smart phone app, or get a wall calendar — whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due.
  2. Find the right place to study
    It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done — while avoiding as many distractions as possible. There are many places to go such as the MU, the Valley Library, your residence hall, or most buildings on campus!
  3. Seek a balance
    College life can be chaotic with various academic and social events. Make sure you stay balanced and don’t overload yourself. One way you can do this is by visiting OSU’s Mind Spa.
  4. Get involved
    You may feel overwhelmed with being homesick or feeling like you don’t belong. We encourage you to consider joining a student group (and be careful not to go overboard), whether it’s academic, religious, athletic, cultural, or social. You’ll make new friends, learn new skills, and feel more connected to OSU.
  5. Take advantage of the academic resources
    Most schools and colleges offer study tables or have tutors available. If you’re having difficulty, these resources are another tool available to you. Another idea: Talk to your classmates about getting a group together to study.

 

Nick’s Advice

  1. Explore your major and career options
    It is important to remember there is no one “right” or “best” major. You should select a major that aligns with your skills, interests, and goals. Talking with a career counselor in the Career Development Center can help you explore the options. Don’t be afraid to change your major. It is estimated that about 80% of undergraduate students across the United States change their major at least once (National Center for Education Statistics, n.d.).
  2. Get to know your fellow students
    It can feel intimidating at first, but it is important to get to know your fellow students because they can be a great resource. What better way to find others who share your same interests?
  3. Get to know your professors
    Talk to your professors and attend their office hours. I promise they are not as scary as you might think. Professors are here to help you learn the material, challenge you to think outside the box, and further your understanding of the subject. They are also a great resource when you need letters of recommendation for scholarships, internships, or graduate school. Just remember, the better they know you, the easier it is for them to write a quality letter.
  4. Put in the time & effort
    Some of the easiest ways to succeed include:

  5. Meet with your advisor
    It is important to speak with your advisor early and often. They are the ones who will provide you with your registration pin number. But more than that, they can assist with course selection and planning; registration; understanding major and degree requirements; and navigating the processes to find extracurricular opportunities, internships, jobs, and more.