Biomedical engineering combines engineering and life science with the important aim of improving outcomes in healthcare, for example, in diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. In Singapore, the medical technology sector is growing strongly and is targeted by the Economic Development Board as one of the important drivers of the economy.
More than 20 staff members of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are engaged in teaching and research activities in biomedical engineering. Courses are offered in topics such as biomedical instrumentation, bioelectronics, biological perception and medical imaging.
Research projects are undertaken in diverse areas, e.g., biosignal processing, image processing and analysis, portable ECG instrumentation, healthcare information systems, and systems modelling. The activities range from the development of software tools and techniques for the correction of tooth misalignment to the design and construction of biosensors for monitoring physiological signals.
The laboratories involved in biomedical engineering research are the Biosignal Processing and Instrumentation Laboratory, the Vision and Image Processing Laboratory, Control and Simulation Laboratory, Laser Laboratory, and Microwaves Laboratory.
With a general interest on communication and computer systems and their applications, the group has four research sub-groups and several well-equipped laboratories. The sub-groups are Communication Systems & Networks, Computer/Embedded Systems, Digital Signal & Image Processing, and Optical & Computer Networks.
In communication systems and networks, the major research focus is on physical layer, cross-layer design, wireless sensor networks, mobile and wireless networking, broadband and high-speed networking, quality of service management, network simulation, software agents and e-commerce applications. In computer/embedded systems, current interests include real-time systems, implementation platforms (e.g., architectural design of DSPs, multi-processor systems and applications of single chip micro-controllers), algorithms (e.g., signal processing, multimedia-based algorithms), cluster/grid/distributed computing and bioinformatics. This is further complemented by research on human-machine interaction, virtual reality, and digital gaming. In digital signal and image processing, the focus is on neural network applications, machine vision algorithms, image and video content retrieval, 3-D vision, image compression, wavelet applications, medical imaging, and parallel processing algorithms.
The Drives, Power & Control Systems group are organised in 2 sections:
The Drives & Power Systems section comprises 12 academic staff members. Current teaching and research activities are centered around 3 laboratories: Power Systems Laboratory, Electrical Machines & Drives Laboratory and Power Electronics Laboratory.
Current research focuses are on power electronics, electric drives and control, operation and control of power systems, lightning and lightning protection, fuzzy control, neural networks and expert systems. Significant achievements include development of a high-speed fluid bearing spindle motor, development of a new generation power supply product, application of artificial neural networks in power system operation, high performance electric drives, high efficiency single phase AC-DC power factor correction, and intelligent online decision support for control and operation of power distribution system.
Developing a set of integrated platform for research on electrical drives, Electrical Machines & Drives Laboratory
Teaching in the Control System section serves to impart basic and advanced control knowledge to undergraduate and graduate students while research activities have concentrated on the general field of intelligent control, control system design, engineer and technology development. Currently the Control System section has three well-equipped laboratories, namely, the Control and Simulation Laboratory, Mechatronics and Automation Laboratory and the Advanced Control Technology Laboratory.
Current research focuses are on automatic tuning methods, adaptive control systems, neural and fuzzy control, intelligent motion control, computer-aided engineering of advanced controllers, and knowledge-based control using expert system methodologies. In addition to the above fundamental research, the activities of the section also encompass the design, testing and practical applications of advanced control theory.
The Microelectronics Group's activities focus on the materials and devices for electronic, opto-electronic, and magnetic applications, semiconductor manufacturing processes, and the design of VLSI systems. The Group has many teaching and research linkages with other internal and external groups.
In teaching, we contribute to undergraduate and graduate courses within the framework of the ECE Department's B.Eng., B.Tech., M.Sc., M.Eng., and Ph.D. programmes. These courses cover broadly the areas of materials and devices for electronic, opto-electronic, and magnetic applications, semiconductor manufacturing processes, and VLSI design. These courses, from 2000 to 6000 levels, provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to prepare for a career in microelectronics and data storage industries and are also accessible to students from other departments within NUS.
The research activities within the Group are fairly diverse as they incorporate the expertise and interests of 30+ faculty members. Several research laboratories have been developed which reflect the various common research interests around which Group members collaborate. With this close team work among faculty members, we have been successful in securing substantial external research funding from industry and public sector funding agencies, with current research funding totaling over $20 million. It also has active research collaborations with the A*STAR research institutes, namely the Institute of Microelectronics (IME), Data Storage Institute (DSI), Institute of High Performance Computing, Institute of Infocomm Research and Institute of Materials Research & Engineering. The collaboration with IME is carried out under the framework of a virtual joint laboratory - the Joint Microelectronics Laboratory - while the collaboration with DSI takes place in three joint laboratories - the Information Storage Materials Laboratory, the Laser Microprocessing Laboratory and the Optical Crystal Laboratory.
A summary of the activities categorized according to the various laboratories is as follows. Details of the activities and the faculty members involved can be found through the hyperlinks to the various laboratories.
Research activities in the Centre for Integrated Circuit Failure Analysis & Reliability (CICFAR) cover the development of new instrumentation and techniques based on electron-beam, photon and scanning probe technologies, and research in nanotechnology. Electron beam technology projects include novel electron sources, portable high-resolution scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), advanced analytical electron-optical instrumentation, and nanostructure inspection in the SEM. Projects involving optical techniques include spectroscopic near-field optical microscopy, time-resolved spectroscopic cathodoluminescence, and near-infrared photon emission microscopy. The development of scanning probe microscopy techniques for device and nanostructure characterization forms another facet of the research being carried out. Research in nanotechnology is currently focused on the development, application and characterization of novel memory devices, one-dimensional nanostructures, and porous alumina templates.
The research focus for the Centre for Optoelectronics is on compound semiconductor materials growth and characterisation, and device design and fabrication. Group-III Nitrides are grown by Metal Organic Chemical Vapour Deposition (MOCVD) while the Group-III arsenides /phosphides and dilute nitrides are grown by MOCVD and Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) , respectively . Other nanomaterials include carbon nanotubes aligned by AC dielectrophoresis and ZnO synthesized by an aqueous solution method. Low dimensional structures such as quantum dots, nanorods, nano-rings and photonic bandgaps are fabricated to explore new device architecture to enhance the radiative recombination and light extraction efficiency and to tune the emission wavelength. As an example white light emission is obtained from a single active layer comprising of an arrays of QDs within a quantum well. COE works closely with the Institute of Materials Research & Engineering.
The Information Storage Materials Laboratory (ISML) is one of the Faculty of Engineering's joint laboratories with the Data Storage Institute. Together with the Silicon Nano Device Laboratory, it forms part of the Nanotechnology Facility. Established in 2001, ISML has built up its facilities through research grants provided mainly by A*STAR SERC with a start-up funding of about $9 million under the Temasek Professorship programme. The research area of this programme started with metal-based spintronic materials and devices for ultra-high density data storage applications. The ISML lab has also successfully attracted further research funding from A*STAR, one magnetic semiconductor based spintronics ($1.3 million) and nanocharacterization for spintronics ($4.7 million). Other main topics include magnetic nanostructures, spin-dependent transport, nanometer scale spintronic sensors, nano-memory devices, single spin detection techniques, novel materials such as half metals and dilute magnetic semiconductors, and underlying theory for spin related phenomena.
The Laser Microprocessing Laboratory is hosted jointly with the Data Storage Institute and focuses its R&D activities on the investigation of sophisticated science behind laser-matter interactions to develop new laser engineering approaches and the development of these techniques as novel industrial solutions. The Lab has developed strong expertise in laser microprocessing and nanoengineering since 1992. The research areas include surface cleaning, modification, microfabrication, cutting, drilling, patterning, etching, direct writing, thin film deposition, surface inspection, signal diagnostics, nanocluster (nanoparticles & nanowires) syntheses and surface nano-patterning for nanodevice fabrication and the investigation of plasmonics effect and left hand materials/structures. The contributions by the Lab members have been recognized both locally and internationally in the academic community and the industry. It recently initiated an A*STAR research grant on nanodevice fabrication at 45 nm & beyond by laser nano-imprinting technique. The lab organized International Workshop on plasmonics and its applications in nanotechnologies in Dec. 2006 with 126 participants from 26 countries & regions.
The research activities of the Microelectronics Laboratory are in the synthesis of semiconductor nanocrystals, fabrication and characterisation of quantum dot based memory devices, investigation of high dielectric constant materials for memory applications, contact module for silicon germanium based CMOS process, growth of well regulated, large area carbon nanotubes via template methods, novel methods for precise synthesis of nanostructures and reliability study of copper damascence interconnect structure for integrated circuits.
The MOS Device Laboratory's research focus is on the secondary and tertiary effects of energetic carriers on MOS device reliability. The laboratory also provides facilities for silicon wafer dicing and device characterization.
The Optical Crystal Laboratory is hosted jointly with the Data Storage Institute. The research activities in this lab cover crystal growth and characterization techniques of various optical crystals for laser, magneto-optical, opto-electronic and holographic applications. The growth techniques established in this lab include the Czochralski, vertical Bridgman, TSSG, ACRT-flux and LPE methods. Together with other capabilities, the laboratory is well established for crystal processing, crystal property and defect characterization. The lab is currently focusing on the development of high-performance rewritable holographic storage materials and high-speed high-density two-color nonvolatile holographic storage technology, which cover the crystal growth, crystal quality inspection, holographic materials characterization, two-color holographic recording, imaging optics, pixel matching, hologram multiplexing as well as the system-level implementation of holographic storage.
The Silicon Nano Device Laboratory has an advanced CMOS process and device technology research facility. Initially funded by A*STAR under the Temasek Professorship programme, it has since attracted very significant additional project funding from both A*STAR and industry. Collaborating with the Institute of Microelectronics, Institute of Materials Research & Engineering and Institute of High Performance Computing, SNDL is active in developing scientific and technological bases for solving the most critical needs for CMOS front-end technology, RF-IC process, and nano technology. It works on advanced CMOS gate stack structures incorporating high-K dielectric and metal gate processes and materials, novel FINFET and double gate device structures, nanowire CMOS devices, germanium and GOI MOS devices, strained silicon and SOI devices, carrier transport modeling and gate stack reliability, physical modeling and simulation of nano-scale electronic device phenomena. Collaborating with the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, it is also working on non-volatile molecular and polymer flash memories for silicon integrated circuit applications.
The Signal Processing and VLSI Laboratory comprises faculty from the Microelectronics and Communication & Information Engineering Groups and collaborates with the Institute of Microelectronics & Institute of Infocomm Research. The Laboratory supports a broad range of research activities including (a) analog, mixed-signal and RF integrated circuits design with focus on wireless communication and biomedical applications; (b) VLSI implementations of digital systems covering digital filters, DSP, and power-aware SOC-based IPs of video codec; (c) reconfigurable computing, and embedded system architectures and design methodology; (d) silicon sensors, MEMS, and integrated systems; (e) simulation and modelling of sub-0.1 micron channel length MOSFETS.
The Biomagnetics Laboratory is currently focusing on three research areas – physical biomagnetic sensors for disease diagnosis, magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical applications, and metallic spintronics and magnetocelectronic devices. Several members of the Group also collaborate with the Biomedical Engineering Group working on the development of sensors and scanning probes for biomolecular applications.
Research activities are carried out in the Center for Microwaves and Radio Frequency, which comprises the Radar & Signal Processing Laboratory, Antenna & Scattering Laboratory, MMIC Laboratory and the Microwave Laboratory.
The current focuses in the Microwave & RF group are on electromagnetic modeling and design of passive and active devices and systems, where the aim is to develop expertise in the fabrication of components, circuits and systems for applications such as wireless communications systems and phased arrays for radar. Major facilities on-campus include a Virtual Center for Device Modeling and MMIC Design, a national EMI/EMC Research Center and an externally-funded $5.5 million high-specifications microwave anechoic chamber to serve as national resource centers.