Analog Center Shows Off New Research Labs
Dec. 20, 2010
The Texas Analog Center of Excellence has opened its new 8,000-square-foot labs, paving the way for the $16 million research center’s continued growth.
“One of the things we want to accomplish with this facility is to bring together people from diverse backgrounds to develop technology that people working in one particular discipline couldn’t come up with on their own,” said Dr. Kenneth K. O, director of TxACE and holder of the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair at UT Dallas, where he is a professor of electrical engineering.
“So we’re going to have not only analog circuit designers but also physicists and bioengineers and others here,” he added, “and we want them all to work together to come up with solutions to some of the great challenges the world faces today.”
Opening-day tours of the labs featured a sampling of technology being developed by TxACE researchers at UT Dallas, including:
- A 280-GHz imaging system that can effectively emulate Superman’s vision, seeing an object through a wall – promising new imaging capabilities for security operations at airports and elsewhere.
- A wireless automated patient monitoring system.
- Smart-antenna technology for next-generation wireless communication.
A symposium held in conjunction with the opening featured nearly a dozen presentations by leading analog researchers from Caltech, MIT, Intel, Freescale Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, IBM and elsewhere. Topics included automotive radar for collision avoidance and the diagnostic potential of high-frequency-wave technology.
The common thread throughout such projects is advanced semiconductor technology like that being developed at dozens of universities where TxACE funds research.
Lunchtime speaker Bill Sproull discussed analog’s vital role as a complement to digital technology, noting a shortage of analog design expertise and TxACE’s role in helping fill that gap. The president and CEO of the Metroplex Technology Business Council, he urged local high-tech companies to partner with TxACE on innovative projects.
TxACE is dedicated to creating fundamental technology innovations that improve energy efficiency, health care, and public safety and security. TxACE has rapidly become the world’s largest international, university-based analog technology center, funding research by 68 research teams at 26 universities. It is a collaboration among TI, Semiconductor Research Corp., the State of Texas, the UT System and UT Dallas.
TxACE is particularly active in working to lower the cost of millimeter-wave and sub-millimeter-wave analog electronics that could revolutionize health care and bolster security.
Research was under way even before the formal opening of the new TxACE labs.
Analog in a Nutshell
Although digital technology tends to dominate high-tech news, analog technology is the workhorse responsible for taking real-world information such as the sound of your voice, translating it into digital form such as the signal your cellphone transmits and then converting it back into the sound that comes out of another person’s phone.
“The majority of electrical engineering students specialize in digital electronics, but as the use of digital grows, the need for analog grows at several times that rate, so analog engineers are in great demand,” said Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas and holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering.