Past Event

Seminar: Cosmic Backscatter and other ways to communicate by modulating noise

December 5, 2023
11:00 AM - 12:00 AM
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Mudd 1300 Conference Room

Speaker: Joshua R. Smith, Zeutschel Professor, Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Host: Professor Ioannis Kymissis

Abstract: Backscatter communication enables low power data transmission by shifting the burden of radio signal production from the energy-constrained endpoint device to a powered interrogator. Ambient backscatter demonstrated the possibility of using pre-existing, information carrying broadcast radio waves as a carrier, eliminating the need for a dedicated signal generation source.  I will describe new communication methods that allows an endpoint device, with a very similar design to a backscatter endpoint, to communicate without the need for any RF carrier, whether deliberately generated or ambient. I will present several variants of this idea, including modulating Johnson noise in a resistor, and “Cosmic backscatter,” in which cosmic noise sources are modulated to encode information.

Biography: Joshua R. Smith is the Milton and Delia Zeutschel Professor in the Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he leads the Sensor Systems research group.  He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and a Fellow of the IEEE. He leads the UW + Amazon Science Hub, a research center that facilities collaboration between Amazon and any unit of the University of Washington. He was named an Allen Distinguished Investigator by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and he was the thrust leader for Communications and Interface in the NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.  Before joining UW he was a Principal Engineer at Intel.

In recent years his research has focused on wirelessly powering and communicating with sensor systems in applications such implanted biomedical electronics, ubiquitous computing, robotics, and space.  He is a co-founder of three startup companies that are commercializing research from his lab: Jeeva Wireless, Wibotic, and Proprio. He received B.A. degrees in computer science and philosophy from Williams College, the M.A. degree in physics from Cambridge University, and Ph.D. and S.M. degrees from MIT.

Contact Information

Dan Carroll