Current Projects

Learn more about the ongoing research in the lab!


ZEUSSS
Wireless, Self Sustaining Acoustic Sensor

Physical surfaces and objects enhanced with acoustic sensing and communication capabilities provide an opportunity for an unprecedented understanding of human behavior as well as novel ways of interaction and environmental control. Combined with the advances in material science and additive manufacturing techniques, we attempt to "weave" acoustic sensing and computational capabilities into everyday objects. ZEUSSS, the Zero Energy Ubiquitous Sound Sensing Surface, allows physical objects and surfaces to be instrumented with a thin, self-sustainable material, giving rise to revolutionary applications such as interactive walls, localization of sound sources and people, surveillance via audio, contextualization and safer authentication services.

Active Team: Nivedita Arora, Qiuyue Xue, Jin Yu, Ryan Bahr, Ali Mirzazadeh

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Serpentine
Deformable Sensor for Natural Input

We introduce Serpentine, a self-powered sensor that is a reversibly deformable cord capable of sensing a variety of natural human input. The material properties and structural design of Serpentine allow it to be flexible, twistable, stretchable and squeezable, enabling a broad variety of expressive input modalities. The sensor operates using the principle of Triboelectric Nanogenerators (TENG), which allows it to sense mechanical deformation without an external power source. The affordances of the cord suggest six natural interactions-Pluck, Twirl, Stretch, Pinch, Wiggle and Twist. Serpentine demonstrates the novel ability to simultaneously recognize these inputs through a single physical interface. A 12-participant user study illustrates 95.7% accuracy for a user-dependent recognition model using a realtime system and 92.17% for user-independent offline detection.

Active Team: Fereshteh Shahmiri, Anandghan Waghmare, Dingtian Zhang, Shivan Mittal

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OptoSense
Towards Ubiquitous Self-powered Optical Sensing Surfaces

Human activities implicitly or explicitly block the path of ambient light in our environment, resulting in light changes on the surfaces of everyday objects. We can leverage these interference patterns of ambient light as a general-purpose, privacy-preserving signal to support activity recognition as well as novel interaction techniques. In this work, we will expand a design space for ambient light sensing to enable a wide range of applications from walking activity detection to multitouch inputs, through strategic integration and design of sensors on surfaces of everyday objects. With the development of OptoSense, we introduce a self-powered research platform for the quick prototyping of ambient light sensing surfaces using off-the-shelf silicon-based photodetectors and photovoltaics. OptoSense is cost-effective and can work with a variety of form factors that conform to everyday surfaces. We show a rich application space of OptoSense with three dimensions (0D, 1D, 2D) and its robustness under different lighting conditions. With the use of organic semiconductor (OSC) devices that are inherently compatible with arbitrary shapes, thin and flexible form factors, and scalable manufacturing processes, we show a path towards ubiquitous ambient light sensing surfaces.

Active Team: Dingtian Zhang, Yang Zhang, Jung Wook Park, Yuhui Zhao, Yunzhi Li

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RF Energy Harvester
Harvesting Energy From Ubiquitous Signals

The work aims to create an RF (radio frequency) electromagnetic energy harvesting solution which harvests energy from the FM (frequency modulation) broadcasting band and is intended for powering small wireless communication devices and electronics such as WSNs (wireless sensor nodes) and IoT (Internet of Things) devices. One of the challenges is designing an efficient ESA (electrically small antenna) for the FM band. The FM band has a wavelength span that is situated around 3 m. A conventional antenna would have a size comparable to this value and would limit the extent of its application in WSNs and IoT. A successful implementation would complement photovoltaic energy harvesting (i.e., solar cells) and make WSN and IoT devices battery-free. Eliminating batteries from potentially billions of WSN and IoT devices would significantly reduce their environmental impact and maintenance cost.

Active Team: Eui Min Jung

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Lithography Free Fabrication of Nanowire Transistors
Bottom up fabrication of transistors

Large scale production of high-performance modular devices capable of sensing, computing and transmitting data can enable innovative applications such as highly scalable, wireless, and autonomous sensor nodes and on demand integrated circuits. Nanowire transistors, particularly Si nanowires, stand out as promising candidates for transistor components of such modular devices. Si nanowires are shown to operate at high speed(> 1 GHz) and low power (< 1 V). Our project revolves around the theme of bottom-up & lithography free transistor fabrication.

Active Team: Gözde Tütüncüoglu

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Battery-Free Touch Interface
Low-Power, Ubiquitous Interaction Surface

Last decade has seen a huge proliferation of new consumer electronics devices. Most of which uses touch interaction to give users control of the device. The choice of touch as an interaction technique is mainly because touch interaction is easy, intuitive and requires no learning curve. Having such touch interactions, not just limited to devices, but over everything around us can make our interaction with everyday objects more contextualized and responsive. Making everyday surfaces interactive can provide more ubiquitous access to technology. For example, a regular looking interactive sticky note which recognizes handwriting can automatically upload the user’s handwritten notes to a computer. An interactive paper pamphlet can be distributed in a public place to gather feedback. Human touch can also be used as an implicit input to generate models of how we live and interact. Touching and handling a door knob differently than regular may indicate some issue with the lock and maintenance can be informed automatically. The major challenge in having such layer of interaction over everything is power and cost. To realize this dream, the touch interface should be self sustaining and should be so cheap that it can possibly be disposable. To tackle this problem, we propose a low-cost self sustaining wireless touch interaction system along with the fabrication process to deploy it over everyday objects. Our ultra-low power system requires less than 100 uW of power which it harvests using a tiny photovoltaic cell and wirelessly transmits the sensed data using Backscatter communication. We use inkjet printing with conductive ink to build the touch interaction surface.

Active Team: Anandghan Waghmare

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SCALES
A process to pattern nanoscale objects from the bottom up

We introduce and demonstrate critical steps toward the Geode process for the bottom-up synthesis of semiconductor nanowires. Central to the process is the design and fabrication of an unconventional, high surface area substrate: the interior surface of hollow silica microcapsules, assembled from silica particles via emulsion templating, and featuring porous walls to enable efficient gas transport. The interior surface of these hollow silica microcapsules is decorated with gold nanoparticles that seed nanowire growth via the vapor− liquid−solid (VLS) mechanism. We demonstrate the production of the necessary microcapsules and show how microcapsule structure and stability upon drying are influenced by the type of silica particles and use of a particle cross-linking agent. Finally, we demonstrate the synthesis of crystalline Si nanowires in the microcapsule interior.

Active Team: Amar T. Mohabir, Gozde Tutuncuoglu, Trent Weiss, Eric M. Vogel, Michael A. Filler

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GEODE
Towards massive throughputs of nanowires

We introduce and demonstrate critical steps toward the Geode process for the bottom-up synthesis of semiconductor nanowires. Central to the process is the design and fabrication of an unconventional, high surface area substrate: the interior surface of hollow silica microcapsules, assembled from silica particles via emulsion templating, and featuring porous walls to enable efficient gas transport. The interior surface of these hollow silica microcapsules is decorated with gold nanoparticles that seed nanowire growth via the vapor− liquid−solid (VLS) mechanism. We demonstrate the production of the necessary microcapsules and show how microcapsule structure and stability upon drying are influenced by the type of silica particles and use of a particle cross-linking agent. Finally, we demonstrate the synthesis of crystalline Si nanowires in the microcapsule interior.

Active Team: Maritza Mujica, Gozde Tutuncuoglu, Pralav P. Shetty, Amar T. Mohabir, Eric V. Woods, Victor Breedveld, Sven H. Behrens, Michael A. Filler

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Winged
Self-sustainable retrofittable intelligent systems

We investigate the challenges of designing self-sustainable, easy-to-install computational systems for all kinds of transportation modes. As a first step, we examine opportunities for harvesting energy in and around an automobile, exploring wind, solar, vibration, and heat energy as harvesting sources. We then propose an approach to guide the choice of energy harvesting technique while considering the possible locations for placing sensing or display solutions. To prove this novel concept, we develop a wide variety of applications, including rear parking sensors, passenger monitors, seat belt monitors, and displays for pedestrians.

Active Team: Jung Wook Park, Dingtian Zhang, Tingyu Cheng, Mohit Gupta, Yuhui Zhao, Thad Starner, Gregory Abowd

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