Some Representative Undergraduate Research Projects

Visit the undergraduate research page to learn more about the diverse and challenging research opportunities for undergraduate ECE students and find out how to get started with an undergraduate research project. If you have additional questions about undergraduate research projects, please contact the ECE department’s undergraduate honors and research coordinator, Prof. Bradley Clymer.

Quantum Functional Nanoelectronic Circuits for Extending Si CMOS

  • Student: Jeffrey Daulton (email)
  • Faculty: Dr. Paul R. Berger (email)
  • Description: As conventional Si circuits following Moore’s Law become increasingly scaled to the nanoscale dimension, their ability to effectively switch charge becomes problematic. This project investigates ways to overcome this bottleneck by developing devices based upon quantum tunneling transport. These resonant interband tunnel diodes (RITD) exhibit room temperature negative differential resistance (NDR) that enables a unique N-shaped current-voltage characteristic useful in creating compact and low power consumption circuits. Presented by Mr. Daulton at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum (2005 and 2006) and the International Semiconductor Device Research Symposium in Bethesda, MD (December 7-9, 2005).


Plastic Solar Cells

  • Students: Sheena Anum (email), John Mergo (email), Sita Asar, Tricia Bull
  • Faculty: Dr. Paul R. Berger (email)
  • Mentor: Woo-Jun Yoon (email)
  • Description: Renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaics, are becoming of increasing interest as the price of crude oil escalates and the threat of global warming climbs. Traditional rigid and brittle inorganic semiconductors operate at high efficiency, but are not cost-effective yet for widescale usage and deployment. The new and growing field of organic semiconductors provides a pathway to foldable photovoltaic cells. This project is exploring new device designs to enhance polymer photovoltaic efficiencies.







Flexible Polymer Light Emitting Diodes

  • Students: Scott Orlove and Eric Wang
  • Faculty: Dr. Paul R. Berger (email)
  • Mentor: Woo-Jun Yoon (email)
  • Description: Light emitting diodes (LED) were the first application exploited by the recent advancement of organic semiconductors and they lend themselves well to efficient large area color displays using direct emission which yields excellent side-angle viewability compared to liquid crystal displays. Some of this technology has already entered the consumer electronics marketplace. However, their overall light output is still somewhat limited by the ability to inject charge into the active polymer LED layers from the external metal contacts. This project is examining ways to lower this energy barrier and has already demonstrated a four-fold increase in light output compared with control samples. Presented at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum and the Fall 2005 MRS Meeting, Symposium I: Interfaces in Organic & Molecular Electronics II in Boston, MA (November 28 – December 2, 2005).


Molecular Electronics and SmartCard Technology using Organic Semiconductors

  • Student: Sita Asar
  • Faculty: Dr. Paul R. Berger (email)
  • Mentor: Woo-Jun Yoon (email)
  • Descript ion: Computing with single molecules is a brand new and fascinating field that is challenging traditional electronics and may pave the way for flexible electronics, such as SmartCards for personal banking or medical information. Diode-like rectification behavior has already been created by passing current through single molecules, but this is insufficient to create full circuit functionality and arithmetic operations efficiently. Polymer tunnel diodes which exhibit negative differential resistance (NDR), however, could enable tunnel diode based memory that is highly compact and energy efficient for SmartCard technologies, but this has been difficult to achieve reliably and repeatedly with single molecules. Through the original work of an undergraduate researcher, a method was discovered to create robust and room temperature NDR behavior with large area polymer devices. Due to the extreme simplicity of this polymer tunnel diode fabrication process using thin-film spin-coating technology, the ability to realize cheap memory on flexible substrates now appears within reach. Presented at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum and published in Applied Physics Letters (November 14, 2005).


Field Effect Transistor-Based Biosensor

  • Student: Mark Elias (email)
  • Faculty: Dr. Brillson (email)
  • Funding: Ohio Space Grant Consortium and College of Engineering, Experiment Station Internship
  • Description: This project involves fabrication of field effect transistors by microelectronic techniques in a cleanroom environment and attachment of protein molecules that are sensitive to biological "target" molecules. When such target molecules attach to the field effect transistor, they cause a change in electrical current. This device concept has the potential to produce cheap, light, wearable biosensors for a wide variety of uses by security personnel as well as the general public.

    UPDATE: Mark is currently working with Profs. Steve Lee and Len Brillson on a related project.

Synchronized Electronic Fireflies

  • Students: Jason Byerly (email), Chia-Yi Chang (email), Ting-Hsiang Chuang (email), and Chris Slattery (email)
  • Faculty: Dr. Passino (email)
  • Description: The electronic firefly is designed to emulate the biological organisms for the purpose of developing innovative solutions to challenging technological problems. The biological organisms can be emulated with circuits and simulated with a computer for their functionalities. The overall focus of this design project is to construct an experiment that emulates a biological system and to then identify potential industrial uses.



Dynamic Maneuvers in Legged Locomotion

  • Student: Simon Curran (email)
  • Faculty: Dr. Orin (email)
  • Funding: National Science Foundation
  • Description: The goal of the project is to develop a quadruped galloping machine that is capable of a variety of dynamic maneuvers. These include a start from rest, acceleration, turn, jump, and quick stop. The major focus is on a new high-performance leg for the quadruped. It involves the developing of the computer control for the DC motor leg-actuators using a state-of-the-art PDA-type embedded microprocessor.

    UPDATE: This project was presented at Denman Undergraduate Research Forum in Spring 2005 where it received second place. Simon is continuing this project, moving from quadruped locomotion to biped locomotion, with another three-year grant from the National Science Foundation.

Identifying Geometries of Magnetic Field Perturbers in the Human Brain by Simulating Protonic Monte Carlo Walks

  • Student: Jonathan Kopechek
  • Faculty: Dr. Clymer (email)
  • Funding: College of Engineering
  • Description: Detecting the presence of iron-containing particles in the human brain and identifying their geometries may provide a non-invasive method of diagnosing certain neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, and may be useful in developing more effective methods of treatment. By simulating the behavior of hydrogen protons exposed to an external magnetic field and surrounded by magnetic field perturbers it is believed that the effects of perturbers of different geometries on the proton's movement can be quantized. Due to the large amount of memory required to run these simulations it is advantageous to run them on supercomputing machines, allowing greater flexibility and faster results. When the perturbation effects due to various geometries have been quantized it will be possible to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify the location, strength, and geometries of iron-containing particles in the human brain, which may lead to breakthroughs in research of Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions.

    UPDATE: This project was presented at Denman Undergraduate Research Forum.

Network Localization Via Angle-Indexed Radio Signal Strength

  • Students: Abdul Kalash (email), Luis Rodriguez (email)
  • Faculty: Dr. Potter (email)
  • Description: In wireless sensor networks position awareness is necessary to exploit the communication benefits of directional antennas and for sensors to provide meaningful information about their surroundings. In this project, we demonstrate the feasibility of self-localization using received signal strength measurements from a non-coherent array of directional antennas on each sensor node. Printed circuit board antennas and a quadratic estimation algorithm are developed. We demonstrate in outdoor field experiments that sub-meter location accuracy is possible using IEEE standard 802.11 or 802.15 radio frequency communication signals and no assumed model for propagation loss.


Terrain Modeling in a Robotic Simulation Environment

  • Student: Matt Knollman (email)
  • Faculty: Dr. U. Ozguner (email)
  • Description:Organized to accelerate research and development of autonomous combat vehicles for the military, the DARPA Grand Challenge brings together universities and organizations from all over the nation to design and implement an autonomous vehicle. Ohio State's entry vehicle for the competition will be able to navigate from point to point and avoid obstacles utilizing a variety of sensors. Currently, the Player/Gazebo 3D robotic simulation environment is being used to refine and test the sophisticated control algorithms developed for this vehicle. This outdoor simulator is being augmented with the capability to accurately model terrain to further test performance in uneven and hazardous environments. Using publicly available US Geological Survey elevation and topographical data sets, terrain models are generated for regions of interest. Embedded within this data are latitude and longitude offsets which are converted using a UTM transformation into a projected coordinate system compatible with the simulator. Support is also being added for multiple sensors to be mounted at varying heights and angles in order to sense terrain variations and provide more robust information to the vehicle control system.

    UPDATE: Investigations done and results obtained in this project were used by the Desert Buckeyes team in the DARPA Grand Challenge.

Electronic States at Silicon Carbide Interfaces

  • Student: Dennis Wang
  • Faculty: Dr. Brillson (email)
  • Funding: National Science Foundation
  • Description: This project involves measurement of silicon carbide interface electronic properties on a nanometer scale. Silicon carbide is outlooked to be the most important high power electronic switch for future energy applications such as electric power grid transmission. We used a combination of microscopic techniques to measure the electronic energies of charge carriers at the silicon carbide interfaces and their relation to the usual barriers that prevent easy movement of these carriers across the interface between the silicon carbide and connecting wires.

Wireless Data Acquisition

  • Students: Albert Byun, Hiren Patel, Ankit Srivastava
  • Faculty: Dr. Potter (email)
  • Funding: BAE Systems
  • Description: In this project, we design, construct and test a low-cost, multi-purpose, data acquisition unit. The unit is capable of collecting six channels of simultaneously sampled differential inputs at audio rates with 16 bits resolution. The unit provides convenient USB connectivity and optional WiFi connectivity through a battery-powered single board linux computer. We demonstrate multi-modal sensor data collection using a suite of acoustic and seismic sensors.


DARPA Grand Challenge: Desert Buckeyes Vehicle Safety Spec

  • Student: Matthew Kabert (email)
  • Faculty: Dr. U. Ozguner (email)
  • Description: One of the many tasks involved in the development of the ION vehicle for the DARPA Grand Challenge is the creation of a vehicle safety spec. The safety spec is a basic guideline, which helps determine what are safe traveling speeds and turning rates for the ION to avoid collisions. Most of the work on safety spec involves using physics calculations that are based off of the characteristics of the ION, and the ION's sensor equipment. The safety spec will produce results calculating items such as required look ahead distances for obstacle avoidance, along with values such as maximum safe turning rate to prevent rollover. This safety spec is one of the many tasks involved in assuring that the ION will be able to safely and accurately complete the Grand Challenge course come race day.

    UPDATE: Investigations done and results obtained in this project was used by the Desert Buckeyes team in the DARPA Grand Challenge.


Mobile Element Scheduling in Sensor Networks


  • Student: Robert Brewer (email)
  • Faculty: Dr. Ekici (email)
  • Description: In r ecent studies, using mobile elements (MEs) as mechanical carriers of data has been shown to be an effective way of prolonging sensor network life time and relaying information in partitioned networks. As the data generation rates of sensors may vary, some sensors need to be visited more frequently than others. In this project, partitioning-based algorithms to schedules the movements of MEs in a sensor network are investigated such that there is no data loss due to buffer overflow at lowest speed possible.

    UPDATE: This project contributed to the paper, titled "Data Harvesting with Mobile Elements in Wireless Sensor Networks," by Yaoyao Gu, Doruk Bozdag, Robert W. Brewer, and Eylem Ekici, which appeared in Computer Networks Journal (Elsevier), 2006.

400MHz-100GHz Multiband Radar

  • Students: Rob Olmon, Matt Silverman, Steve Horst, Larry Martin, Keith Blevins, and Jeff Duly
  • Faculty: Dr. Burnside (email)
  • Description: 0.4-100GHz Compact Range Radar. This 2-year, $1.3 million project is aimed at designing and fabricating a state-of-the-art compact range radar for the MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MITLL) near Boston, MA. The radar system will allow MITLL researchers to measure radar cross-section and antenna patterns far faster over a significantly larger bandwidth than ever before. The large bandwidth capability will also allow for examining wideband synthetic aperture radars to generate sharper radar images of distant objects. When complete, this multiband radar will be one of the most advanced RCS/Antenna measurement facilities in the world. The system will be comprised of seven RF transceiver modules called "stems" to cover the frequency bands, an IF/Baseband subsystem, and a two-axis robotics subsystem to select and position a particular band stem to and from the compact range reflector's focal point. Undergraduate students have been involved in this project from its inception. Steve Horst worked with one of our staff researchers to design, fabricate and test an advanced digital receiver for baseband data processing. Rob Olmon, Matt Silverman, and Keith Blevins helped fabricate and test several subsystems and modules. Larry Martin worked with a researcher to create on-line help files and tutorials for the radar's operating system software.

    UPDATE: This project was delivered to MIT Lincoln Labs in 2005 and is fully operational in their measurement facility.

XM Radio Receivers

  • Students: Jim Moore and Kyle Davis
  • Faculty: Dr. Young (email) and Dr. Walton (email)
  • Description: The students in this project are involved in setting up and measuring the effectiveness of different XM radio receivers, a standard for automobile radio. As part of the study, the students learned the XM radio components, with particular emphasis on the antenna design and positioning. Use of network analyzers and other RF measurement components and equipment was a large part of the learning and work experience.

Radar Imaging

  • Students: Jim Moore and Kyle Davis
  • Faculty: Dr. Young (email) and Dr. Walton (email)
  • Description: This project deals with the development of a measurement set-up for radar imaging behind walls. This system is seen to the left and was assembled by students at the ElectroScience Laboratory. The radar includes an antenna scanning along a horizontal and, possibly, vertical axis to construct an image by combining information from many frequencies. The images are subsequently processed to identify items and individuals hidden behind the wall. A goal is to demonstrate and develop a portable system that allows for reliable imaging of hidden objects or in finding humans behind walls.

Analysis of LabView Programming Language for Real-Time Object Identification

  • Student: Laura O'Rear
  • Faculty: Dr. U. Ozguner (email)
  • Description: One of the largest challenges for the DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle is obstacle avoidance. LADAR sensors on the vehicle are very reliable in detecting an obstacle. However, addition sensors are needed for object identification, so that the vehicle knows whether is it approaching a rock, a bush, tall grass, etc. National Instruments CVS-1450 Compact Vision System is able to process images from an infrared camera in order to find the object "type." A real-time version of the LabVIEW graphical programming language includes a Vision package that can aid in object identification.

    UPDATE: Investigations done and results obtained in this project was used by the Desert Buckeyes team in the DARPA Grand Challenge.