Spring 2018 IEN Seed Grant Winners Announced



Fall 2017 Seed Grant Winner at the IEN User Poster Session on May 21, 2018 - Arith Rajapaks

The Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology at Georgia Tech has announced the winners for the 2018 Spring Seed Grant Awards. The primary purpose of the IEN Seed Grant is to give first or second year graduate students in various disciplines working on original and un-funded research in micro- and nano-scale projects the opportunity to access the most advanced academic cleanroom space in the Southeast. In addition to accessing the high-level fabrication, lithography, and characterization tools in the labs, the students will have the opportunity to gain proficiency in cleanroom and tool methodology and to use the consultation services provided by research staff members of the IEN Advanced Technology Team.  In addition, the Seed Grant program gives faculty with novel research topics the ability to develop preliminary data in order to pursue follow-up funding sources.

Over the course of five years, this grant program has seeded forty-five projects with forty-nine students working in ten different schools in COE and COS, as well as the Georgia Tech Research Institute and 2 external projects.

The 4 winning projects, from a diverse group of engineering disciplines, were awarded a six-month block of IEN cleanroom and lab access time. In keeping with the interdisciplinary mission of IEN, the projects that will be enabled by the grants include research in materials, biomedicine, energy production, and microelectronics packaging applications.

The Spring 2018 IEN Seed Grant Award winners are:

  • Jiang Chen (PI Ben Wang - MSE): Validation and Characterization of Living Cell Grafting on Polycaprolactone Fibers for Textile Tissue Engineering
  • Fatima Chrit (PI Alexander Alexeev - ME): Microfluidic Adhesion-based Sorting of Biological Cells
  • Zifei Sun (PI Gleb Yushin - MSE): FeOx Coated FeF3-C Nanofibers as Free-standing Cathodes for Sodium- Ion Batteries
  • Ting Wang (PI Xing Xie - Civil and Environmental Engineering): Development of Lab-on-a-Chip Devices for the Mechanisms Study of Cell Transportation and Bacteria Inactivation in a Non-Uniform Electric Field

Awardees will present the results of their research efforts at the annual IEN User Day in 2019.

Neuroscientists Team with Engineers to Explore How the Brain Controls Movement



Muhannad Bakir (far left) and Emory's Samuel Sober (far right) combined forces for the project. The work will be led by post-doctoral fellows in their labs, Georgia Tech's Muneeb Zia (center left) and Emory's Bryce Chung (center right).
Recording device for muscles

This article was written by Carol Clark, senior science communicator at Emory University and editor of eScience Commons

Scientists have made remarkable advances into recording the electrical activity that the nervous system uses to control complex skills, leading to insights into how the nervous system directs an animal’s behavior. 

“We can record the electrical activity of a single neuron, and large groups of neurons, as animals learn and perform skilled behaviors,” says Sam Sober, an associate professor of biology at Emory University who studies the brain and nervous system. “What’s missing,” he adds, “is the technology to precisely record the electrical signals of the muscles that ultimately control that movement.”

The Sober lab is now developing that technology through a collaboration with the lab of Muhannad Bakir, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The researchers recently received a $200,000 Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award from the McKnight Foundation to create a device that can record electrical action potentials, or “spikes” within muscles of songbirds and rodents. The technology will be used to help understand the neural control of many different skilled behaviors to potentially gain insights into neurological disorders that affect motor control.

“Our device will be the first that lets you record populations of spikes from all of the muscles involved in controlling a complex behavior,” Sober says. “This technique will offer unprecedented access to the neural signals that control muscles, allowing previously impossible investigations into how the brain controls the body.”

“By combining expertise in the life sciences at Emory with the engineering expertise of Georgia Tech, we are able to enter new scientific territory,” Bakir says. “The ultimate goal is to make discoveries that improve the quality of life of people.” 

The Sober lab previously developed a prototype device — electrodes attached to flexible wires — to measure electrical activity in a breathing muscle used by Bengalese finches to sing. The way birds control their song has a lot in common with human speech, both in how it is learned early in life and how it is produced in adulthood. The neural pathways for birdsong are also well known, and restricted to that one activity, making birds a good model system for studying nervous system function.

“In experiments using our prototype, we discovered that, just like in brain cells, precise spike timing patterns in muscle cells are critical for controlling behavior — in this case breathing,” Sober says.

The prototype device, however, is basic. Its 16 electrodes can only record activity from a single muscle — not the entire ensemble of muscles involved in birdsong. In order to gain a fuller picture of how neural signals control movement, neuroscientists need a much more sophisticated device.

The McKnight funding allowed Sober to team up with Bakir. Their goal is to create a micro-scale electromyography (EMG) sensor array, containing more than 1,000 electrodes, to record single-cellular data across many muscles. 

The engineering challenges are formidable. The arrays need to be flexible enough to fit the shape of small muscles used in fine motor skills, and to change shape as the muscles contract. The entire device must also be tiny enough not to impede the movement of a small animal.

“Our first step is to build a flexible substrate on the micro-scale that can support high-density electrodes,” Bakir says. “And we will need to use microchips that work in parallel with 1,000 electrodes, and then attach them to that substrate.”

To meet that challenge, the Bakir lab will create a 3D integrated circuit. “Essentially, it’s building a miniature skyscraper of electrical circuits stacked vertically atop one another,” Bakir says. This vertical design will allow the researchers to minimize the size of the flexible substrate.

“To our knowledge, no one has done what we are trying to do in this project,” Bakir says. “That makes it more difficult, but also exciting because we are entering new space.”  

The Sober lab will use the new device to expand its songbird vocalization studies. And it will explore how the nervous system controls the muscles involved when a mouse performs skilled movements with its forelimbs. 

An early version of the technology will also be shared with collaborators of the Sober lab at three different universities. These collaborators will further test the arrays, while also gathering data across more species.

“We know so little about how the brain organizes skilled behaviors,” Sober says. “Once we perfect this technology, we will make it available to researchers in this field around the world, to advance knowledge as rapidly as possible.”

The mission of the McKnight Foundation’s Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award, as described on its website, is “to bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain and behavior can be accurately diagnosed, prevented and treated.”

Full cutline information for photos

Top photo: The labs of Georgia Tech's Muhannad Bakir (far left) and Emory's Samuel Sober (far right) combined forces for the project. The work will be led by post-doctoral fellows in their labs, Georgia Tech's Muneeb Zia (center left) and Emory's Bryce Chung (center right). Photos by Ann Watson, Emory Photo/Video.

Second photo: A prototype of the proposed device has 16 electrodes that can record data from a single muscle. The McKnight Award will allow the researchers to scale up to a device with more than 1,000 electrodes that can record from 10 or more muscles.

Coogan Tapped for AFOSR Young Investigator Award



Sam Coogan

Sam Coogan has been chosen for an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award for his research project entitled "Scalable Analysis and Control of Dynamic Flow Networks.” Coogan is an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).

Coogan’s project will develop fundamental theory for controlling and designing networks that model the flow of physical material among interconnected components. These systems are called physical flow networks and are used to model, for example, vehicular transportation networks, air traffic networks, and civil infrastructure. The fundamental commonalities of such flow networks suggest a unified approach for modeling, while domain-specific features point towards a full understanding of their rich behavior. 

In physical flow networks, nonlinearities in each component compound due to the network interactions. For example, congestion in one link of a road network can impact traffic flow in other parts of the network over time. In applications, such networks are becoming larger, more complex, and increasingly distributed, and there is an urgent need to study the mathematical models that underlie many of these systems. The proposed research will focus on using and extending tools from nonlinear system analysis to study and control these physical flow networks.

Coogan holds a joint faculty appointment with Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Prior to joining Georgia Tech in 2017, he was an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of California, Los Angeles from 2015-2017. 

In January 2018, Coogan received an NSF CAREER Award to study the control of traffic networks with an emphasis on autonomy, and in December 2017, he received the IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems Best Paper Award at the 56th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control. 

Five ECE Faculty Members Honored with CTL Award



Lukas Graber
Benjamin Yan

John D. Cressler, Lukas Graber, Tushar Krishna, Sung Kyu Lim, and Benjamin Yang have been chosen for the Georgia Tech Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Class of 1940 Course Survey Teaching Effectiveness Award. They will be formally recognized in March 2019 when CTL holds its annual Celebrating Teaching Day.

This Class of 1940 distinction is one of several awards made annually by CTL to instructors of small and large classes. The award recognizes faculty members with exceptional response rates and scores on the Course-Instructor Opinion Surveys (CIOS). A high response rate (85 percent or greater) and a near-perfect evaluation score were also required for consideration. 

Cressler is being recognized for his outstanding teaching in IAC 2002 Science, Engineering, and Religion: An Interfaith Dialogue. He holds the Schlumberger Chair Professorship in Electronics in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and leads the Silicon-Germanium Devices and Circuits Group.

Graber is being honored for his outstanding teaching in ECE 4012 ECE Culminating Design Project II. He is an assistant professor in ECE and leads the Plasma and Dielectrics Laboratory.

Krishna is being recognized for his outstanding teaching in ECE 8823 Interconnection Networks for High-Performance Systems. He is an assistant professor in ECE and leads the Synergy Lab.

Lim is being honored for his outstanding teaching in ECE 2020 Fundamentals of Digital System Design. He holds the Dan Fielder Professorship and leads the Georgia Tech Computer-Aided Design Lab.

Yang is being recognized for his outstanding teaching in ECE 2026 Introduction to Signal Processing. A frequent instructor of ECE courses, Yang is a senior research engineer in the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory.


Atlanta, GA




Jackie Nemeth

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Coogan Named as Demetrius T. Paris Junior Professor



Sam Coogan has been appointed to the Demetrius T. Paris Junior Professorship, effective December 1, 2018. A professorship for untenured faculty members in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), this position was previously held by Hua Wang. 

Coogan joined the ECE faculty in July 2017 after two years on the faculty at UCLA. He is a member of the systems and controls technical interest group and holds a joint appointment in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

Coogan’s research is in dynamical systems and autonomy and focuses on developing scalable tools for verification and control of networked, cyber-physical systems. He and his team of nine graduate students are interested in applying these tools to create efficient, intelligent, and autonomous transportation systems. He is a member of the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines and the Supply Chain and Logistics Institute. 

Coogan received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining Tech as a faculty member, he was an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at UCLA from 2015-2017.

Coogan has published almost 40 refereed journal and conference papers. Since arriving at Tech last year, he has won a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award. Coogan also received the IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems Outstanding Paper Award in 2017.

Zajic Selected for IEEE Atlanta Section Outstanding Engineer Award



Alenka Zajic has been selected for the IEEE Atlanta Section Outstanding Engineer Award. An associate professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), Zajic will be presented with this award on April 18 at the IEEE Atlanta Section Banquet. 

Zajic was chosen for this honor for her sustained technical contributions to wireless chip-to-chip communications and electromagnetic compatibility. She joined the ECE faculty in 2012 and leads the Electromagnetic Measurements in Communications and Computing Group. 

Zajic’s research is focused on studying propagation in challenging environments such as vehicle-to-vehicle wireless radio communications, underwater acoustic communications, and inside-a-processor-chip communications. Also a highly regarded teacher, she was chosen as the Richard M. Bass/Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Junior Teacher Award, an honor determined by a majority vote of the ECE senior class. 

Zajic has served as an editor for the IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications and as an executive editor for Wiley’s Transactions on Emerging Telecommunications Technologies. From 2015-2017, she served as chair of the Atlanta Chapter of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society/Microwave Theory and Techniques Society. In 2016, under her leadership, the Atlanta Chapter of IEEE AP-S/MTT-S received an Outstanding Chapter Award.

Bakir Chosen for Dan Fielder Professorship



Muhannad Bakir

Muhannad Bakir has been appointed as the Dan Fielder Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), effective September 1, 2019. 

After graduating from Georgia Tech with his Ph.D. in ECE in 2003, Bakir worked as a research engineer in the Microelectronics Research Center/Nanotechnology Research Center until 2010 and then joined ECE as an associate professor. In 2016, he was promoted to the rank of professor. 

Bakir leads the Integrated 3D Systems Group, consisting of nine Ph.D. students and one research engineer who explore the design, fabrication, and characterization of 3D electronic systems and advanced interconnect networks. To date, he has graduated 13 Ph.D. students and two M.S. students. Bakir and his research group have received 30 conference and student paper awards, and his group was also awarded the 2014 and 2017 Best Paper Awards for the IEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology

Bakir's specific research and educational interests focus on 3D electronic system integration, advanced cooling and power delivery for 3D systems, biosensors and their integration with CMOS circuitry, and nanofabrication technology. He and his colleagues have raised approximately $18 million in research funding from DARPA, NIH, NSF, the Semiconductor Research Corporation, the McKnight Foundation, and industry. 

A dedicated classroom instructor, Bakir receives consistently high ratings from undergraduate and graduate students in the courses that he teaches: Integrated Circuit Fabrication, Microelectronic Circuits, and Introduction to Microelectronics Technology. The co-editor of the book, Integrated Interconnect Technologies for 3D Nanoelectronic Systems, he is the author or co-author of more than 200 refereed journal and conference publications, nine book chapters, 15 U.S. patents, and multiple invited presentations. 

Bakir currently serves on the editorial board of the IEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology (TCPMT) and the IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices (TED). He serves as a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE Electronics Packaging Society (EPS).   

Throughout his career, Bakir has received numerous awards and honors. He received the 2013 Intel Early Career Faculty Honor Award, 2012 DARPA Young Faculty Award, 2011 IEEE CPMT Society Outstanding Young Engineer Award, and was an Invited Participant in the 2012 National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Symposium. He was honored with the 2018 IEEE EPS Exceptional Technical Achievement Award “for contributions to 2.5D and 3D IC heterogeneous integration, with a focus on interconnect technologies.” 

Bakir is also the co-recipient of the 2018 McKnight Foundation Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award, the first time that Georgia Tech received this particular award. On campus, he was recognized with the ECE Outstanding Junior Faculty Member Award in 2016 and the Georgia Tech Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Development Award in 2017.  

This professorship is named after the late Daniel C. Fielder, who served on the ECE faculty from 1948 until his death in 2002. Prior to Bakir’s appointment, ECE Professor Sung Kyu Lim had held this professorship for the last five years.

Nasir, Raychowdhury Selected for Top Pick Paper in Hardware and Embedded Security



Saad Bin Nasir

A paper coauthored by Saad Bin Nasir and Arijit Raychowdhury has been selected as a “Top Pick Paper in Hardware and Embedded Security.” Both of them are affiliated with the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE); Nasir is a recent ECE Ph.D. graduate and Raychowdhury is a professor in the School and served as Nasir’s advisor.  

The “top picks” in hardware security represent the top 10 most impactful papers that have been published in the area in the last six years, from 2013 to 2018. Top pick papers span a gamut of topics in hardware, microarchitecture, and embedded security from leading conferences. They are selected from conference and journal papers that have appeared in leading hardware security conferences, including but not limited to DAC, DATE, ICCAD, HOST, VLSI Design, CHES, ETS, VTS, ITC, IEEE S&P, Euro S&P, Usenix Security, ASIA CCS, NDSS, ISCA, HASP, MICRO, ASPLOS, HPCA, ACSAC, and ACM CCS. 

Nasir’s top-pick paper is titled “High Efficiency Power Side-Channel Attack Immunity using Noise Injection in Attenuated Signature Domain” and had previously won the best paper award in the IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST) in 2017. This paper proposed a novel power management technique that reduces side channel leakage in cryptographic engines. The work was done in collaboration with researchers from Purdue University and continues to have a significant impact in the community. Parts of the design have been adopted by Intel and Qualcomm as a part of their hardware-security roadmap. 

Nasir graduated with his Ph.D. in December 2017 while working in the Integrated Circuits and Systems Research Lab under the advisement of Raychowdhury. Nasir is currently a researcher in Qualcomm’s Corporate Research Division in San Diego, California.

Doolittle Named as Joseph M. Pettit Professor




Alan Doolittle

Alan Doolittle has been appointed as the Joseph M. Pettit Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), effective on September 1, 2019.

Doolittle is a proud, two-time Georgia Tech alumnus, earning his B.E.E. degree with highest honors in 1989 and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1996. After graduating with his doctorate, he worked as a research engineer in ECE for five years and then joined the School's academic faculty in 2001. Doolittle leads the Advanced Semiconductor Technology Facility, which has an estimated equipment capitalization of $6 million. 

Doolittle advises eight Ph.D. students who work in the areas of microelectronic fabrication, materials growth, characterization, neuromorphic computational devices, power, high frequency transistors, and optoelectronic devices. To date, he has graduated 23 Ph.D. students, 12 master’s students, and 45 undergraduate students.      

Doolittle pioneered the area of hyper doping of wide bandgap semiconductors, which has enabled the creation of new devices that use quantum mechanical processes to reduce power losses and to allow new ways of interconnecting advanced power and optoelectronic devices. He also pioneered the synthesis of lithium-metal-oxides, which have recently gained traction for very low power neuromorphic devices; these devices emulate human brain functionality.

From 2003-2009, Doolittle was the first assistant professor at Tech to win a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI) award, and in fact, he was the lead PI on two MURI programs during this period. These initiatives focused on the development of next generation epitaxial systems for three-dimensional epitaxy. Doolittle and his team developed and exploited epitaxial multifunctional oxides, a newly developing family of materials that seek to interconnect at the atomic scale using more than one environmental force in order to facilitate the development of new sensors and actuators. One example of materials that were birthed out of this field are “multiferroics,” where electric fields can tune magnetic moments. The latter MURI was an extension of his NSF CAREER Award from 2004 and led to a new branch of science in multifunctional materials.    

Doolittle currently leads a third MURI program aimed at building nanoscale devices that operate in a way that is similar to various brain functions. His MURI team’s goal is to develop an artificial retina that can learn autonomously and be used for advanced image recognition cameras for national defense and police work. He is a co-PI on a fourth MURI, led by Samuel Graham, the Eugene C. Gwaltney Chair and Professor of the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. This program examines the nanoscale engineering of thermal interfaces, so as to improve heat dissipation in power electronics.

Over the years, Doolittle and his colleagues have raised approximately $38 million in research funding from multiple government agencies and industry. He has published 157 refereed journal and conference papers, and he has been issued nine patents. For his hard work and dedication to research, Doolittle was recognized with the Georgia Tech Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Development Award in 2008, the 2002-2003 Student Government Faculty of the Year Award, and the 2005 ECE Outstanding Junior Faculty Member Award.

An excellent classroom teacher, Doolittle earns teaching ratings from undergraduate and graduate students that consistently exceed the School’s norms. He has taught 1,009 undergraduates and 178 graduate students with teaching effectiveness ratings of 4.7 out of 5 in courses such as Microelectronics Circuits, Semiconductor Devices, Renewable Energy Devices, and Introduction to Microelectronic Technology. 

Doolittle is a two-time recipient of the Richard M. Bass/Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Teacher Award, an honor determined by a majority vote of the ECE senior class, in 2003 and 2011. He also received the 2006 Georgia Tech W. Howard Ector Outstanding Teacher Award and the 2005 Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company’s Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Over the years, he has made his lab available for campus and ECE outreach tours and has advised high school teachers through various programs.           

Doolittle has long been internationally recognized as a leader in his field. He has chaired the two biggest conferences in his area of expertise, the International Workshop on Nitride Semiconductors and the International Conference on Nitride Semiconductors, and he has also been chair and program chair for these and other semiconductor conferences several times.

Georgia Tech Arts Awarded $150,000 from The Charles Loridans Foundation



Dancers of MOMIX. Photo by Max Pucciariello.

Georgia Tech Arts is excited to announce that it has received a grant of $150,000 from the Charles Loridans Foundation to bring professional contemporary dance companies, from around the globe and Atlanta, to the campus of Georgia Tech. These selected groups will further the mission of Georgia Tech Arts by integrating performing arts into the lives and work of students, faculty, and the surrounding community. Presenting a blend of nationally recognized and locally based dance companies will ultimately raise the profile of contemporary dance across Atlanta and Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech Arts newly vested director, Dr. Aaron Shackelford, explains the focus on contemporary dance programming in future seasons: “The cultivation of contemporary dance at Georgia Tech can make a uniquely strong contribution to the field in terms of both audience and artistic development. Contemporary dance companies and choreographers are also on the forefront of pressing issues that face the lives of students and many members of the community. These include the deep collaboration inherent to their creative process, the exploration of social issues, reconsideration of physicality, and abstract thinking. Given that these topics are not easily taught or established in the classroom, Georgia Tech Arts, along with the selected dance companies, is committed to providing meaningful engagement experiences for students and beyond.”

The two-year grant supported the sold-out performance of VIVA MOMIX on March 1, 2020, a work that Georgia Tech Arts Dr. Shackelford added to the 2019-2020 season programming after his arrival to the department this past summer. It represents Georgia Tech Arts’ commitment to establishing itself as a hub for innovative dance work that invites the entire community to share in these encounters.

With the funding of the Loridans Foundation, Georgia Tech Arts will also present three additional, yet to be announced contemporary dance ensembles in fall 2020, spring 2021, and fall 2021.

“The Trustees of the Charles Loridans Foundation are so pleased that Dr. Aaron Shackelford and his team at Georgia Tech Arts want to bring the best national and local contemporary dance companies to the Ferst Center,” says Bob Edge, Chair of the Charles Loridans Foundation. “This dance initiative can be artistically important not only to the Tech community but all of Metropolitan Atlanta.  Recent enhancements at the Ferst make it an ideal venue for the ambitious dance presentations Dr. Shackelford has in mind; and the Loridans Trustees are very pleased to support this important program with a multi-year grant.”

Georgia Tech Arts will announce its full 2020-2021 season on May 6, 2020.

Subscribe to Alumni