Living on the Edge of the IoT: Sensing and & Communicating in Energy Starved Environments

Date: 2:00pm, February 2, 2018
Location:  Davis Auditorium, CEPSR 412
Speaker: Dr. Roy H. Olsson III Microsystems Technologies Office Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, VA

Abstract:Wireless communications and miniature sensing technologies have developed significantly over the past decade with the advent of the smart phone. However, the communications and sensing technologies developed around the cellular handset market are largely incompatible in energy consumption, frequency band, and data rate with agricultural, environmental, infrastructure, and industrial sensing, referred to here as the edge of the internet-of-things (IoT). While communications for consumer wireless sensors have primarily developed in the 2.4 GHz ISM band, the radio frequency (RF) propagation losses at this frequency are extremely high both on the ground and through structural materials and foliage. In contrast to cellular phones that can recharge relatively large batteries daily, edge IoT sensors must operate for many years without plugging in to recharge the battery or, in some cases, without a battery at all. The low carrier frequencies and energy expense of RF transmissions necessitates sensing and processing technologies for detecting, classifying and compressing the large amount of sensor data into useful information, while the amount of energy available is orders of magnitude lower than a smart phone.

This seminar will present microtechnologies for communications and sensing that are compatible with the stringent energy consumption, data rates and operating frequencies needed at the edge of the IoT. Microelectromechanical resonators for providing high performance, miniature, and low cost RF components in the 150 MHz to 400 MHz bands needed for ground emplaced and structural sensors will be discussed. A new class of intelligent nanowatt wakeup sensors and radio receivers will also be presented. These wakeup components can detect and classify sensor and RF signatures while consuming lower power than the leakage rate of a small battery, greatly extending the lifetime of energy constrained wireless sensor nodes. Finally, technology gaps and new research areas needed to fully deploy long-life sensors at the edge of the IoT will be identified.

Biography: Roy (Troy) H. Olsson III is a program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). His research interests include materials, devices, and architectures for low-power processing of wireless and sensor signals, miniature antennas, and phased array antennas. Prior to joining DARPA, Troy was a Principal Electronics Engineer in the MEMS Technologies Department at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM. At Sandia, Troy led research programs in aluminum nitride and lithium niobate piezoelectric micro-devices for processing of RF, inertial and optical signals. He received B.S. degrees (Summa Cum Laude) in electrical engineering and in computer engineering from West Virginia University in 1999 and the MS and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2001 and 2004. His graduate research was in the area of low power electronics and sensor arrays for interfacing with the central nervous system.

Troy has authored more than 100 technical journal and conference papers and holds 27 patents in the area of microelectronics and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). He served on the organizing committee of the 2011 Phononics Conference and was a Member of the Technical Program Committee for the IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium (IUS) from 2010-2016. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Member of the IEEE Solid State Circuits Society; the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society; Eta Kappa Nu; and Tau Beta Pi. He was awarded an R&D100 award in 2011 for his work on Microresonator Filters and Frequency References and was named the 2017 DARPA program manager of the year.

Host: Professor Harish Krishnaswamy

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