ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

2010 Annual Report

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Photograph of ECE’s tom Martin

Interdisciplinary Design

In a single day, Tom Martin, an associate professor of ECE might be involved with a laptop orchestra, a fashion show curtain, and an intelligent jump suit. In all these efforts, he’s engaging undergraduate ECE students in a world far from engineering. “The most interesting ideas,” he says, “come alive at the margins between disciplines.”

Photograph of a boiling tin of water

Promising Power: Building an energy lab with spare parts and creativity

ECE students [and professors] are creating their own outdoor laboratory to study alternative energy issues. With funding from the engineering fee, students in ECE 4304 Design in Power Engineering are pouring concrete to support their equipment, building their systems, and repurposing old technology.

Photograph of a sparsely populated northern landscape with ice and snow

An Arctic Blast: studying space weather at the world’s northern-most university

Nathaniel Frissell spent spring semester 2010 at The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), which is located on the Svalbard archipelago, well north of the Arctic Circle. Svalbard is a land of few inhabitants and trees – but an incredible view of auroras and night-shining (noctilucent) clouds that are the visible effects of space weather.

Photograph of the sun brightly shining on solar panels

The New Solar: Making solar energy affordable, efficient, and user-friendly

Shocked by the low efficiency and high cost of solar-energy systems, many potential buyers decide to wait till new materials or photovoltaic (PV) technology improve the affordability. Consumers don’t realize that with a better power conditioning system, even today’s technology can be more affordable, according to Jason Lai, director of ECE’s Future Energy Electronics Center (FEEC).

Photograph of ECE professors Mantu Hudait and Marius Orlowski

Life Beyond Silicon

A Virginia Tech microelectronics team is developing a technology not just to continue semiconductor miniaturization for logic and memory chips, but also to colocate photonics applications with silicon-based circuitry, including light generation by lasers and more efficient solar cells.

Photograph of work going on in a brightly lit electronics clean room

Lower-cost Solar Cells

Success in integrating III-V compounds on silicon substrates can lead to affordable (cost-efficient) photovoltaic (PV) and thermophotovoltaic (TPV) systems, says Mantu Hudait.