ECE Students Excel at Denman Undergraduate Research Forum
Tom Zajdel Earns Top Honors in Engineering Category
Tom Zajdel, an undergraduate student in electrical and computer engineering tied for first place in the engineering category at the 2012 Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. ECE undergraduate students Amritesh Rai, Kenneth Clive, and Katurah Hansen tied for third place in the engineering category.
Zajdel’s research, Asynchronous Stimulation for Cochlear Implants, attempts to improve the simulation pattern for individuals with a cochlear implant (CI). Cochlear implants are electronic devices that restore some sense of hearing to the profoundly deaf by electrically stimulating the auditory nerve. The project utilizes Asynchronous Interleaved Sampling (AIS), which attempts to improve the stimulation pattern by varying the time between pulses to mirror the behavior of asynchronous neural pulse patterns that are characteristic of natural hearing. In order to assess the algorithm, Zajdel and his advisors conducted auditory perception experiments with cochlear implant users to evaluate AIS's effects on tone phase detection and speech recognition in noise. Improvements in these areas would allow cochlear implant users to better understand fine variations used in speech intonation, which is important in sentence meaning and in tonal languages such as Mandarin Chinese. Additionally, an improvement in speech intelligibility in noise would be a major advance in the quality of hearing for CI users. These initial tests showed that AIS performs comparably to current methods in presenting phase information. The results suggest that consideration of other factors such as electrode spacing and parameter adjustment may have the potential to improve the performance of asynchronous stimulation algorithms." Zajdel is advised by Bomjun Kwon, assistant professor of otolaryngology, and Steven Bibyk, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
"I really enjoyed having the opportunity to collaborate between researchers in different disciplines. It turns out that the language of audiology is very similar to the language of engineering, and this research experience exposed me to some very interesting analogs between nature and technology," said Zajdel. "Also, conducting experiments with actual implant users was a lot of fun! I am very grateful to those who volunteered to be part of this study for helping us better understand how this amazing technology works."The project by Rai, Clive and Hansen, Synthesis, Characterization & Transfer Methods of Graphene, aims to synthesize, characterize and explore transfer methods of large area graphene for its incorporation into organic photovoltaic devices with the aim of boosting their light harvesting capacity. Due to its immense mechanical strength, high transparency and high electrical conductivity, graphene is touted as a potential replacement for conventional semiconductors and transparent conducting electrodes used in today’s electronic devices. The challenge, however, is to synthesize large area monolayer graphene and its defect-free transfer to substrates of interest in order to utilize its marvelous intrinsic properties. The team successfully realized a leak-proof experimental setup incorporating a vacuum push-pull mechanism from scratch.So far, graphene micro-flakes have been synthesized and with more research and optimization, it is expected that the goal of producing large-area graphene will soon come to fruition. The as-grown graphene will be used as a replacement for the costly Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), a transparent conducting electrode, used in the group’s organic solar cells. Once successful, this research could spur the production of cost-effective and efficient photovoltaic devices on a larger scale. Rai, Clive and Hansen are advised by Paul Berger, professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“We are highly indebted to Dr. Berger for allowing us so much independence in designing and running the experiments ourselves, and for exposing us to cutting-edge research in organic photovoltaics,” said Clive. "Despite our inexperience within the solid-state area, Dr. Berger saw that Amritesh, Katurah, and I had the capacity to solve problems. And despite us being undergraduates, he did not give us a simple experiment to do; instead, he went against conventional wisdom and assigned us a very difficult problem that is normally reserved for
The Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, which has grown from 50 participating undergraduate researchers in 1996 to more than 600 this year, showcases outstanding student research and encourages all undergraduates to participate in research as a value-added element of their education. The Denman Forum is a cooperative effort of The Ohio State University's Honors & Scholars Center, Undergraduate Research Office, and Office of Research. Visit the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum website for more information.
View a nice overview video of the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum here.