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FIU receives $1.69 million to support STEM research and education – FIU News

Department of Defense grants to support robotics, optical communication, advanced device packaging
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November 14, 2022 at 2:47pm
The FIU College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) has received three awards totaling $1.69 million from the Department of Defense (DoD) to support research, education and DoD objectives.
FIU received the awards as part of the 2022 DoD Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions Research and Education Program.
“We have an important, longstanding partnership with the Department of Defense that not only supports the multidisciplinary research we do, but also the academic enrichment of our diverse student body,” said John L. Volakis, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing and professor of electrical and computer engineering. “We are grateful for the DoD’s continued collaboration and generous award of state-of-the-art equipment that will support significant DoD research priorities.”
Professor Dwayne McDaniel and his research team have received an award to acquire two Spot robots from Boston Dynamics. Inspired by the biology of a dog, Spot robots are built to capture data while navigating rugged terrain.
“We want to reduce risk for soldiers and have robotic platforms take the risk instead,” said McDaniel, principal investigator of the DoD award. “The robots will probably be used in areas that don’t have Wi-Fi or GPS, so one of the things we will be doing is developing novel communication and path planning methods for the robots and the soldiers.”
A DoD award has been awarded to CEC Professor Daniela Radu to study how optical communication between components in computer chips can eliminate the need for wires, making electronics lighter overall. With DoD funds, FIU is acquiring a transmission electron microscope (TEM), which can capture details as small as a billionth of a meter wide. The technology will enable faculty to show undergraduate students samples of materials at the atomic level.
“If you replace electronic communications with light emitted by nanolasers, you reduce the need for wires, hence, moving toward ultra-small, ultra-lightweight components. But to miniaturize these electronics that send and receive light, you need to be able to see on a small scale. You need to be at the size of the Ant-Man,” said Radu, principal investigator of the award.
Professor Cheng-Yu Lai of CEC and Physics Associate Professor Hebin Li of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education collaborated on the grant, focusing on quantum science research that will be facilitated by access to the TEM.
Emerging electronics and biomedical electronics perform functions that are so specific and important that every aspect needs to be just right. For example, a medical device that goes inside a human body needs to be packaged so that it retrieves health information and performs the required electronic therapy, but its size and interactions do no harm to the body.
CEC Professors Pulugurtha Markondeya Raj and Vladimir Pozdin have received an award from the DoD to research packaging devices for health-monitoring, therapeutics, high-bandwidth communication, and power management for computing. The team will purchase an Atomic Layer Deposition tool, which forms coatings at the atomic scale.
“For undergraduate students, this will be a bridge between fundamental classroom science and next-generation technology with immediate market traction,” said Pulugurtha, principal investigator of the award. “This will allow students to apply their basic knowledge about engineering to design and make highly efficient devices at atomic scale through foundational principles.”
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