AWaRE REU – ND Wireless Institute
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Bringing 5G Smarts to Network Measurement

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Striegel, Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Project Summary:

Traditionally, most network measurement tools such as Speedtest.net and others measure the network in an isolated manner. Further, while peak speed can be interesting, it often fails to capture all of the dynamics of modern wireless networks. The focus of this project is to study the interplay of how sharing various pieces of network information between apps and wireless devices can lead to improved network understanding and performance.

Student’s Role:

Create Linux or mobile app library that can interwork with our suite of Fast Mobile Network approaches and study the interplay/trade-offs with respect to WiFi and cellular network measurement accuracy versus energy consumption.

Networked Robots: Coordination and Control

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Lin, Department of Electrical Engineering

Project Summary:

This REU project aims to develop a team of robotic systems that can accomplish complex team missions even in the face of uncertain and dynamic environments. Applications that motivate this project include, but not limited to, emergency response, future manufacturing systems, and service robots. In this REU project, we will touch topics on both hardware/software development and theoretical/algorithm design, such as communication-aware coordinated motion planning, sensing, task planning through formal methods, a counterexample-guided synthesis which combines logic inference with optimization.

Student’s Role:

Develop algorithms to synthesize robust trajectories, and to adapt the trajectories during run-time to deal with unknown obstacles or other agents in the environment. Implement these algorithms in real robotic platforms, such as Pioneer 3AT/3DX and Baxter. Background/interest in optimization, embedded systems, control, algorithms, real-time programming. Preferred skills in MATLAB, C/C++, and Linux.

Machine Learning for RF Information Leakage Characterization in Low Cost Bluetooth Implementation

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Joshi, Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Project Summary:

Due to tight on-die integration in low-cost, low-power wireless modules, digital and mixed-signal subsystems are often placed very close to each other. Noise coupling from the digital system is often indicative of the computations being performed and thus leaks information to the outside world. We would like to characterize this leakage and see what can we infer about the computations occurring inside the chip using only the signals leaking outside.

Student’s Role:

The student will be conducting in-lab experiments with commercial bluetooth development boards, the student will be working with software-defined radio kits to record this information. The student will then learn how to use modern machine learning tools to automate the process of information extraction and capture.

High-Frequency Characterization and Modeling of GaN Transistors

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Fay, Department of Electrical Engineering

Project Summary:

GaN-based transistors are increasingly attractive for applications across the microwave and millimeter-wave frequency range, including power amplifiers, low-noise amplifiers, switches for reconfigurable RF systems, and more. This project includes measuring the performance of several GaN transistor designs (including DC measurement, low-frequency AC, and high-frequency on-wafer characterization) and developing models suitable for computer-aided circuit design of these transistors from the measured characteristics. Comparisons of different models (e.g. ASM-HEMT, Angelov, etc.) and their respective abilities to capture key device performance features are included to evaluate the suitability of the models for different circuit applications.

Student’s Role:

The student will also be instrumental in using the collected data to extract the model parameters for the selected transistor model, and comparing the model’s projected performance against the measured results. Preparing a design kit, including documenting the model’s strengths and weaknesses, is also included.

Environmental Sensing using Passive WiFi Properties

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Striegel, Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Project Summary:

Beyond serving as an essential part of connectivity for our various smart devices, WiFi also can be helpful in providing environmental context such as the likely presence of people using devices, the density of devices being used, and changes in the nearby environment. The focus of this project is to explore the extent to which vehicle-mounted WiFi sensing could help better discern important environmental cues that are of interest to researchers and government entities.

Student’s Role:

Help gather data, process, analyze, and visualize data from our WiFi gathering tools and help design a next-generation sensing platform.

Non-Contact Health Monitoring

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Pratt, Department of Electrical Engineering

Project Summary:

Notre Dame is involved in the development of sensing concepts for non-contact monitoring to help characterize the health status of heart patients in a home environment. Sensing concepts will be assessed experimentally using software-defined radar platforms under an approved protocol for testing human subjects. The research is expected to involve algorithm development, the conduct of experiments, data analysis, and graphical user interface development. The student will have opportunities to contribute to various facets of the research, including tests, data analyses, software development, and documentation.

Student’s Role:

Research opportunities for the undergraduate student will involve one or more topics associated with non-contact sensing, including the development of software tools associated with sensing experiments, analysis of data collection outputs, and presentation of processing products. The undergraduate students may also participate in literature surveys, modeling, and simulation (in Matlab), laboratory experimentation, and data analysis. The student is expected to provide research products in the form of functional GUI’s, PPT slides, and weekly status reports. The undergraduate students will work on a small team of researchers that includes the PI, research engineers, and graduate students. The student will gain exposure to RF-based sensing concepts as well as to software-defined radio equipment that will be utilized in the experiments.

Phased Arrays and Lenses for Low-Power 5G MMW Communications

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Chisum, Department of Electrical Engineering

Project Summary:

Phased arrays have proven to be an enabler for high-performance communications and sensing in the sub-6 GHz bands. They enable high-gain links to individual remote radios which can be tracked in space to achieve high data rates, enable spatial reuse, and even provide location-aware applications. This technology was initially developed in the defense sector at great cost and with significant power consumption. However, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) DACs and ADCs have seen a dramatic reduction in cost and power consumption and a wide range of integrated RF components in the sub-6 GHz bands have become available. These trends have enabled the technology to transition to the commercial sector with great success.

More recently the same technology was transitioned to the millimeter-wave (MMW) bands (>30 GHz) to enable 5G MMW communications with data rates beyond 1 Gbps. Unfortunately, the technology (data converters and radio components) did not scale well so the 5G MMW phased arrays consume extremely high power. In fact, the first generation of 5G MMW-enabled mobile phones were only capable of operating at Gbps rates for ~10 minutes before the battery was drained.

Instead of taking technologies that worked well at low-frequencies and moving them up in frequency, an alternative approach is to take technologies which natively work at high frequencies such as lens antennas, and modify them to provide the desired functionality (high-speed beam-scanning and multi-beam apertures) for 5G MMW.

The purpose of this research project is to explore the length to which switch-beam lens antennas can provide the most important features and capabilities of a phased array but at a fraction of the cost and power. This project will build off of the MMW lens antenna demonstrations from the PIs research group and will include theoretical electromagnetic antenna modeling as well as linear systems analysis (especially beam-forming theory and beam-synthesis methods from field theory).

 

Student’s Role:

The student will perform analysis, modeling, and simulation of both phased array systems and lens antenna systems. They will take advantage of the Matlab phased array toolbox as well as in-house models for lens antennas to perform the system-level comparison. The student will first need to attain a conceptual understanding of how phased arrays and lens antennas work. This will be done with guidance from graduate students and the PI. Then they will develop models of each.

In order to do this, the student will perform full-wave electromagnetic simulations of the antennas in question in both commercially available finite-element method (FEM) and finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) electromagnetic solvers. By the end of the summer, the student will have applied electromagnetic theory and systems analysis to the question of low-power millimeter-wave beam-scanning antennas. The outcome of the work will be an assessment of how well lens antenna systems can accomplish the same thing as phased arrays at a fraction of the power and cost.

RadioHound: A Low-Cost Spectrum Sensor

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Hochwald, Department of Electrical Engineering. This project also involves Drs. Laneman and Chisum, of the Department of Electrical Engineering, and Dr. Striegel from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Project Summary:

RadioHound, an ongoing project at NDWI, is the development of low-cost, portable spectrum measurement sensors capable of tuning over a wide range of frequencies commonly used by everything from cellular phones to wireless local area networks, to radios and televisions. One goal is to distribute these sensors over a wide geographical area and thereby crowd-source the real-time measurements to create a “heat-map” of spectrum usage over the area and across frequency. Such a map would be used, for example, to determine where spectrum congestion is dense. We are on our third version of the sensor.

We are in the fifth year of this project.

Student’s Role:

The project has many hardware and software components and opportunities for students to contribute, depending on their technical software and hardware maturities and skillsets. Basic hardware and laboratory capabilities, and knowledge of C, Python, and networking are a plus, but not required. In particular, we have an opening for help with Version 3 of the board, including laboratory measurements, and experimental verification of spectrum heat-maps. Hence, knowledge of laboratory equipment and practices is advantageous.

Radar Signal Processing and Data Analysis

Project Summary:

Notre Dame is involved in the development and implementation of target detection and identification concepts for radar applications. Evaluation of these concepts will be assessed experimentally using software-defined radar platforms. The research for the undergraduate student is expected to involve participation in experiments to evaluate one or more radar concepts, depending on project needs. The student will have opportunities to contribute to various facets of the research, including field tests, data analyses, and documentation.

Student’s Role:

Research opportunities for the undergraduate student will involve one or more topics associated with radar, including advanced radar architectures, distributed radar systems, and novel target characterizations. The undergraduate students will participate in radar literature surveys, radar subsystem implementations (in Matlab), field experimentation, and data analysis. The student is expected to provide research products in the form of slides and weekly status reports. The undergraduate students will work on a team 4 of researchers that includes the PI, research engineers, and graduate students. The student will gain exposure to radar concepts as well as to state-of-the-art equipment, including a software-defined radios, a custom $700K multi-antenna transceiver system, and two 9-ton field research vehicles that are used in experimentation.

High Linearity GaN Transistors for Enhanced LNA Dynamic Range

Project Summary:

Novel transistor designs for improved linearity in GaN-based FETs are being explored for their potential to improve dynamic range in mm-wave low noise amplifiers (LNAs). This project includes device design, modeling, fabrication, and characterization of devices, as well as design of low-noise amplifiers (based on the extracted models) and comparison with designs based on conventional transistors in order to fully understand the potential benefits and any associated design trade-offs for mm-wave receiver applications.

 

Student’s Role:

Student involvement in this project can take several forms; focus on one particular aspect (e.g. device design, characterization, LNA design) is anticipated. For example, for device design work student would perform physics-based TCAD simulations of candidate designs, and optimize the device structure for best input IP3 and gain performance. For characterization, fabricated devices will be characterized on-wafer using nonlinear vector network analysis and on-wafer noise-parameter measurements in order to experimentally characterize the nonlinearities as well as noise figure and noise parameters. LNA design will include design of mm-wave LNA blocks (e.g. single-stage amplifier with reactive matching) to form the basis of comparative studies between new and conventional device designs.

Collaborative Intelligent Radio Systems for Congested Wireless Environments

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Laneman, Department of Electrical Engineering

Project Summary:

The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), currently targeting a radio frequency (RF) band centered around 3.5 GHz, represents a breakthrough in wireless technology and policy in the United States. For the first time, widespread commercial cellular networks based upon LTE technology will intelligently utilize RF spectrum that has otherwise been exclusively reserved for government systems like Navy radars. As RF spectrum becomes more crowded, and sharing spectrum among very different commercial and government systems becomes the norm, wireless system engineers need to build radios and network services that are much more context-aware and collaborative compared to current designs, basically redesigning such systems from the ground up to be more resilient to interference in congested environments.

To address problems in this space, our team has been developing prototypes, models, and algorithms for what is being called a collaborative intelligent radio system (CIRS). A CIRS needs to be able to sense what is going on in the RF spectrum in and around its intended band of operation, and then adaptive its transmission formats and receiver signal processing algorithms accordingly. Our radio prototypes are based upon software-defined radio (SDR), with which our team has extensive experience. Student projects involve learning how to use and develop for the prototyping platform, designing and implementing a set of new features, and testing and demonstrating those features to the group.

Student’s Role:

The REU student will work with graduate students, a software engineer, and the faculty advisor to develop and test new radio models and signal processing algorithms for CIRS. Opportunities to develop courseware and participate in the DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge will also be available during the Summer and beyond.

Dual-Polarized Monopulse Radar

Principal Investigator: Professor Pratt

Other Contributors: Luis Perez, Rob Kossler

AWaRE REU Researcher: Patrick Callaghan, Community College of Allegheny County

Project Description: Notre Dame is involved in the development and implementation of target detection and identification concepts for radar applications. Evaluation of these concepts will be assessed experimentally using software-defined radar platforms. The research for the undergraduate student is expected to involve participation in experiments to evaluate one or more radar concepts, depending on project needs. The student will have opportunities to contribute to various facets of the research, including field tests, data analyses, and documentation.

Finding: Monopulse antennas are used in radar to track targets and are also used passively in radio astronomy and in electronic support measures (ESM). In radar applications, monopulse radar is favored for its ratio-based processing—which offers some resilience to jamming—and it conventionally involves single-polarization implementations.

Dual-polarized monopulse concepts, however, are beginning to appear in literature, primarily as a means to augment the monopulse radar’s ability to counter jamming. One example is the paper by Zhang and Pan (“Adaptive Countering Technique for Angle Deception Based on Dual Polarization Radar Seeker”) which deals with monopulse methods enabled by dual-polarization radar architectures to counter angle jamming.

Our goal in the summer research project was to work with data associated with a fabricated monopulse antenna in various tasks, including 1) synthesizing monopulse antenna patterns; 2) implementing monopulse signal processing techniques; 3) modeling and analyzing system responses to simplistic target scenarios, and finally, including dual-polarized methods discussed in literature that aim to improve jamming-resilience.

To work towards these goals, antenna pattern modeling based on recently fabricated dual-polarized monopulse antennas was achieved using an electromagnetic modeling tool called FEKO. The resulting antenna pattern characterizations were exported to MATLAB where sum and difference antenna patterns based on linear combinations of element patterns were synthesized and compared with the FEKO estimates. Additionally, monopulse radar signal processing algorithms were implemented and applied to simplistic single- and two-target scenarios. Plans are to integrate methods from literature to investigate performance in the presence of jamming.