Specialty Areas

Electrical engineering is a diverse field that embraces many specialty areas. The main specialty areas in electrical engineering are the following (in alphabetical order):

Summary

The following are some of the areas included in the biomedical specialty:

  1. Biomedical Instrumentation - This includes things such as remote heart monitors for heart patients or portable blood sugar meters for diabetics.
  2. Medical Imaging - This includes MRI machines, CAT scanners, new types of imaging for breast cancer detection.
  3. Neural and Brain Interfaces - Artificial retinas for the blind, Cochlear implants for the deaf, and prosthetic limbs controlled directly by the mind are examples of neural interfaces.
  4. Micro-electromechanical (MEMs) Systems - Micro-fluidic MEMs systems may soon lead to a revolution in the design of new drugs for treating diseases. Micro-fluidic systems may be able to generate and test thousands of new compounds per hour in the search for new drugs.

Biomedical Research at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing bio-medical research:

  1. Simon Ang is doing research in MEMs and Micro-fluidics
  2. Magda El-Shenawee is doing research on medical imaging using microwaves. More on their research can be found by visiting the Terahertz site.

Courses for the Bio-Medical Specialty Area

The bio-medical area encompasses so many other specialties that it is hard to specify a single set of courses that prepare a student well for this specialty. The courses needed depend on a student's sub-specialization within bio-medical.

Summary

The following are some of the areas included in the communications specialty:

  1. Wireless Communications - This includes cell phones, smart phones, and wireless internet.
  2. Optical Communications - Optical fibers, thinner than a human hair, form the backbone of the internet.
  3. Design of Internet Routers - Routers are the hardware and software that direct internet signals to the correct destinations.
  4. Design of Internet Protocols - Protocols are the automated procedures and algorithms, implemented in computers, that make the internet possible.
  5. Radio and Television - Waves in the air, produced by antennas, received by antennas, and then interpreted by electronics to produce everyday entertainment.

Communications Research at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing communications research:

  1. Jingxian Wu has research interests which cover the broad scope of wireless information networks, including cooperative communications, distributed space-time-frequency coding, network information theory, cross-layer optimization, distributed communication and computing systems, wireless sensor networks, multicarrier communications, performance analysis,
  2. Dale Thompson is doing research on telecommunications network design, wireless networks, and performance evaluation of computer networks. He is a professor in the Computer Science Computer Engineering Department who is an adjunct professor in Electrical Engineering.

Courses for the Communications Specialty Area

Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

MATH 3083

Linear Algebra

ELEG 4623

Communication Systems

CENG 3753

Data Communication Systems (Internet Protocols)

ELEG 4603

Deterministic Digital Signal Processing System Design

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

ELEG 4683

Introduction to Image Processing

ELEG 4713

Electromagnetic Transmission

ELEG 4723

Introduction to RF and Microwave Design

ELEG 5113

Stochastic Digital Signal Processing System Design

ELEG 5173L

Digital Signal Processing Laboratory

ELEG 5183L

DSP Digital Communications Laboratory

ELEG 5193L

Advanced DSP Processors Laboratory

ELEG 5543

Communication Networks for Motion/Industrial Control

ELEG 5603

Wireless Data Communications

ELEG 5613

Introduction to Telecommunications

ELEG 5623

Information Theory

ELEG 5633

Detection and Estimation

ELEG 5643

Computer Communications Networks

ELEG 5663

Communication Theory

ELEG 5683

Image Processing

ELEG 5693

Wireless Communications

ELEG 5713

Antennas and Radiation

ELEG 5723

Advanced Microwave Design

ELEG 5753

Satellite Communications and Navigation Systems

Summary

Computers and digital circuitry are now pervasive in society. Digital circuitry is circuitry that performs logic and/or computations. The following are some of the devices that contain digital or computer circuitry:

  1. Stand Alone Computers - Workstations, P.C.s and Apple Computers, tablet and pocket P.C.s, supercomputers, and server farms - such as those maintained by Google.
  2. Embedded Computers - These are small computers embedded in other equipment. Examples include the computers and computer chips embedded in entertainment devices like televisions and IPods, the computers embedded in video games, DVR's such as TIVO which are essentially computers, computers in medical equipment such as MRI's and CAT scanners, computers in car engines and in airplane navigation equipment, computers in GPS devices, computers in factory equipment that control and monitor the equipment, computers in cell phones.
  3. Most Other Electronic Devices - A digital television contains mostly digital circuitry. A CD or DVD player contains mostly digital circuitry. Most of the circuitry in factory equipment is digital. Most of the circuitry in a cell phone is digital, although crucial parts are analog. Almost everything relating to the internet is a combination of special purpose digital circuitry and computers. Home appliances are controlled by digital circuitry. Nearly everything electronic has a digital component.

Digital and Computer Research at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing research in the digital and computer areas.

  1. Jingxian Wu does research in microprocessors and embedded systems, especially with applications in communications.
  2. Jia Di and Pat Parkerson design digital integrated circuit chips. They are professors in the Computer Science and Computer Engineering Department and adjunct professors in Electrical Engineering.

Courses for the Computers and Digital Circuit Design Specialty Area

Essential and Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

Essential

 

ELEG 4914/5914

Advanced Digital Design

ELEG 4983

Computer Architecture

Recommended

 

ELEG 4233/5923

Introduction to Integrated Circuit Design

ELEG 4963

CPLD/FPGA Based System Design

ELEG 5253L

Integrated Circuit Design Laboratory I

ELEG 5263L

Integrated Circuit Design Laboratory II

CSCE 3953

System Synthesis and Modeling

CSCE 4114

Embedded Systems

CSCE 4233

Low Power Digital Systems

CSCE 5943

Computer Arithmetic Circuits

CSCE 5983

Application Specific Integrated Circuit Design

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

ELEG 5173L

Digital Signal Processing Laboratory

ELEG 5193L

Advanced DSP Processors Laboratory

CSCE 3313

Algorithms

CSCE 5033

Advanced Algorithms

Summary

Control systems are electronic circuitry that precisely and robustly control machines, equipment, and even entire industrial plants. The following are some typical applications of control systems:

  1. Airplane Autopilots - An airplane autopilot controls the plane's control surfaces to keep the plane flying steadily. Control systems may one day automatically land airplanes. Unmanned drones are controlled mainly by automatic control systems.
  2. Stability Control in Automobiles - Stability control circuitry controls the brakes on all four wheels of a car in such a way that the car is prevented from spinning out of control on sharp curves and turns. It uses single wheel braking to help the car go where the driver wants it to go without spinning out of control.
  3. Image Stabilization - Image stabilization in a video camera controls the motion of a tiny mirror in the camera so that it compensates for jitter in the hands holding the camera. Image stabilization in a camera looking down on a football game from a blimp compensates for the motion of the blimp in the wind.
  4. Autofocusing of Cameras - The autofocus circuitry in a camera controls the motion of the lense to bring the image into sharp focus.
  5. Position Control in Robotics and other Industrial Equipment - The positions of tools and grippers in industrial equipment must often be precisely controlled.
  6. Chemical Plants - Automatic control systems control such variables as temperature and flow rate in chemical plants to achieve optimum performance.

Control Systems Research at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing control systems research. Details on their research and their labs can be seen by clicking on their names.

  1. Juan Balda does research in power systems and motion control.
  2. Roy McCann specializes in control systems. His research interests include decentralized and embedded control systems, sensor networks, transportation systems and automotive electronics, electric machine controls, and power electronic drives.

Courses for the Control Systems Specialty Area

Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

MATH 3083

Linear Algebra

ELEG 4403

Control Systems

ELEG 4463L

Control Systems Lab

ELEG 5653

Artificial Neural Networks

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

ELEG 5113

Stochastic Digital Signal Processing System Design

ELEG 5153

Real-Time Data Acquisition Systems

ELEG 5413

Stochastic Control Systems

ELEG 5423

Optimal Control Systems

ELEG 5433

Digital Control Systems

ELEG 5443

Nonlinear Analysis and Control

ELEG 5453

Adaptive Filtering and Control

ELEG 5473

Intelligent Transportation Systems

Summary

The following are some of the areas included in the electric energy systems specialty:

  1. Design of Power Distribution Networks - Electrical engineers in the power area design the power distribution system that connects homes and factories to power plants. Much work is being done currently on decreasing the frequency of blackouts.
  2. Design of Power Electronic Interfaces - Power engineers design the circuitry that controls high power semiconductor devices of all kinds. The electronic circuitry in windmills and solar farms used for renewable energy has a large impact on performance, as does the circuitry in electric cars.
  3. Design of Motors and Generators - Power engineers design the motors and generators used in homes and in industry. The motors and generators in an electric or hybrid car are a key part of the vehicle.

Research in Electric Energy Systems at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing research in the electric energy systems area. Details on their research and their labs can be found by clicking on their names.

  1. Simon Ang is the current director of HiDEC. He does research in power electronics, power converters, and power semiconductors.
  2. Juan Balda does research in motor drives, power electronics, electric power quality, and electric power distribution systems.
  3. Alan Mantooth is doing research on the application of silicon carbide semiconductors in power distribution networks.
  4. Roy McCann is doing research on decentralized and embedded control systems, sensor networks, transportation systems and automotive electronics, electric machine controls and power electronic drives.

Courses for the Electric Energy Systems Area

Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

ELEG 4503

Electric Power Distribution Systems

ELEG 4513

Power System Analysis

ELEG 4323

Switch Mode Power conversion

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

ELEG 4403

Control Systems

ELEG 4413

Advanced Control Systems

ELEG 4463

Control Systems Lab

ELEG 5313

Power Semiconductor Devices

ELEG 5523

Electric Power Quality

ELEG 5533

Power Electronics and Motor Drives

Summary

Electronic circuit design is the transistor level design of the circuitry which is at the heart of all electronic devices. Most electronic design is done by combining together fairly standard subunits that were designed by someone else at some time in the past. The smallest of these subunits are designed using transistors, capacitors, and resistors as components. Someone who specializes in circuit design creates these smallest subunits. Examples of such subunits are amplifiers, filters, comparators, logic gates, voltage controlled oscillators, mixers, and sample-and-hold circuits. This is a core specialty without which the rest of electronics could not exist.

Research in Electric Energy Systems at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing research on circuit design:

  1. Simon Ang does research on the design of power control and power supply circuitry.
  2. Alan Mantooth does research on Analog and Mixed-Signal Circuit Design, device modeling for circuit design, circuit design for extreme temperature ranges, Si3N4 circuit design,

Courses for the Circuit Design Area

Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

ELEG 4243

Analog Integrated Circuits

ELEG 4323

Switch Mode Power Conversion

ELEG 4203

Semiconductor Devices

ELEG 4233

Introduction to Integrated Circuit Design

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

ELEG 4523

Introduction to Power Electronics

ELEG 4723

Introduction to RF and Microwave Design

ELEG 5533

Power Electronics and Motor Drives

Micro-Electronics/Photonics (MicroEP) is a joint program between Electrical Engineering and the Physics Department. As the name suggests, this program emphasizes microelectronics and optical electronics. It also has a fairly strong emphasis on engineering management. MicroEP offers an undergraduate minor, and at the graduate level it offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

Micro-Electronics/Photonics Undergraduate Minor

The undergraduate minor in microEP primarily targets students in a science or engineering program who are planning to exit the educational process after completion of the B.S. degree and seek employment in semiconductor or nanoscale manufacturing industries. A secondary target would be preparing students for graduate coursework in this area, either in a departmental program or the microEP graduate program.

Typical technology-based careers that would be supported by this minor would include micro/nanofabrication, advanced materials preparation and analysis; device design and fabrication integration; and microsensor design and fabrication. The knowledge areas that the students will be asked to master include micro and nanoscale materials, processing, and devices in a focus area matching the students’ career goals; as well as principles of engineering management in a technological environment. For more information on MicroEP, visit the Micro-Electronics/Photonics web site.

Micro-Electronics/Photonics Graduate Degrees

MS MicroEP students are required to take a course curriculum that includes twenty-one class hours of technical courses, six hours on business aspects of high tech research commercialization, and six hours of research thesis.

PhD microEP students must take a mix of courses covering the following four areas of concentration:

  • Photonics
  • Microelectronics
  • Materials and Processing
  • Management of Technology

The student must complete thirty hours of courses beyond the MS degree, and must develop deep level knowledge of one of the areas of concentration through his or her coursework and eighteen hours of dissertation.

The current program divides the student's studies between applied courses in Physics, microelectronic concepts/manufacturing courses in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, and practical materials related classes in Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering. It is expected that at least half of the classroom hours will be taken in 5000 level courses.

Although MicroEP is associated with both the Electrical Engineering Department and the Physics Department, a MicroEP degree is distinct from either an Electrical Engineering or a Physics Degree. Micro-Electronics/Photonics is a separate department from Electrical Engineering and Physics.

Electrical Engineering Faculty who Participate in the MicroEP Program

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are also faculty in the Micro-Electronics/Photonics program:

More Information on Micro-Electronics/Photonics

For more information on MicroEP, visit the Micro-Electronics/Photonics web site.

Summary

Nanotechnology is the design of very submicroscopic structures for electronic and other purposes. The transistors inside the microprocessors that are currently used in personal computers are about 65 nanometers across. This is about 50 times the diameter of an atom, and is about ten times too small to see with a visible light microscope. It is about ten times smaller than the diameter of a bacterium. Nanotechnology is the design of structures that are roughly 65 nanometers across or smaller. The ultimate goal is to use individual molecules as electronic components, and connect them together with atomically precise connections. Potential applications of nanotechnology include the following:

  1. Extremely Small Electronic Circuitry - The microprocessor at the heart of a present day personal computer has about 390,000,000 transistors in it, wired together into a single complex circuit. If the transistors can be replaced with single molecules, a microprocessor might contain more than 1,000,000,000,000 transistors and be 10,000 times as powerful. Computers as small as blood cells could be constructed.
  2. Optics - By reducing the dimensions of optical sensors in still and video cameras to nanometer dimensions, their optical properties can be modified in ways that improve their spectral properties.
  3. Sensors for Brain Implants - People who are blind or physically handicapped could benefit greatly from being able to interface electronics directly with their brains. This will probably, when combined with other advances, allow blind people to see the images captured by small television cameras, and it will probably allow physically handicapped persons to control artificial arms, legs, and hands directly with their thoughts in much the same way as other people control natural arms and legs. Nanotechnology will probably be necessary for creating this kind of brain interface.
MEMs

MEMs stands for Micro Electro Mechanical devices. Many of the same techniques that are used to create microscopic electronic devices can also be used to construct microscopic mechanical devices and fluidic devices. Microscopic mechanical devices can be used as sensors for pressure and acceleration. They can also be used to direct light beams for creating images or switching internet signals. A DLP (Digital Light Processing) high definition television uses a silicon chip about 1 cm. square containing approximately a million microscopic movable mirrors to create the television image.

Microfluidic devices are being developed as rapidly as possible for biomedical applications. It may be possible using microscopic tubes, valves and pumps to implement a complex chemical laboratory on a single small chip. One application of this would be to accelerate the search for new drugs. Finding a new drug usually requires testing tens of thousands of chemicals until one is found that has the desired effect. Chips with hundreds or thousands of testing chambers apiece could greatly accelerate this search.

NanoTechnology and MEMs Research at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing research in nanotechnology or MEMs. Details on their research and their labs can be seen by clicking on their names and other links.

  1. Simon Ang does research on the design of microfluidic devices.
  2. Omar Manasreh does research on using quantum nanodots and quantum layers for optics.

Courses for the NanoTechnology and MEMs Specialty Area

Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

ELEG 4203

Semiconductor Devices

ELEG 4233

Introduction to Integrated Circuit Design

CHEM 3703

Organic Chemistry I

PHYS 3614

Modern Physics

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

ELEG 5213

Integrated Circuit Fabrication Technology

ELEG 5233

Solid-State Electronics I

ELEG 5253L

Integrated Circuit Design Laboratory I

ELEG 5263L

Integrated Circuit Design Laboratory II

ELEG 5273

Electronic Packaging

ELEG 5293L

Integrated Circuits Fabrication Laboratory

ELEG 5323

Semiconductor Nanostructures I

ELEG 5333

Semiconductor Nanostructures II

ELEG 6213

Semiconductor Surfaces

ELEG 6233

Solid State Electronics II

ELEG 6273

Advanced Electronic Packaging

PHYS 4073

Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

CHEM 3713

Organic Chemistry II

CHEM 3813

Introduction to Biochemistry

Summary

Portable electronic devices like cell phones and ipods need to be as small as possible for convenience. In order to obtain high performance, a large amount of complex circuitry must be put into a very small package. Most of the circuitry in such devices consists of integrated circuit chips connected together by nearly microscopic metal film wires. Electronic packaging is the art of packing as many integrated circuit chips as possible into a very small package and wiring them together. In addition to saving space, packing chips close together inside a single package can improve performance by increasing speed and decreasing interference. The High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC) at the University of Arkansas is devoted to research in electronic packaging. 

Packaging Research at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing packaging research:

  1. Simon Ang is the current director of HiDEC. He does research on Electronic Packaging, Microelectronics, Power Electronics, MEMs, and Mixed-Signal Design.

Courses for the Packaging Specialty Area

Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

ELEG 4203

Semiconductor Devices

ELEG 4233

Introduction to Integrated Circuit Design

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

ELEG 5273

Electronic Packaging

ELEG 6273

Advanced Electronic Packaging

ELEG 5213

Integrated Circuit Fabrication

ELEG 5293L

Integrated Circuit Fabrication Laboratory

ELEG 5253L

Integrated Circuit Design Lab I

ELEG 5263L

Integrated Circuit Design Lab II

Summary

Printed letters are visual patterns. The U.S. Postal Service uses pattern recognition machines to recognize letters and read the addresses on envelopes to sort them for delivery. Words are auditory patterns. Speech recognition software on computers recognizes words.  This makes it possible for a personal computer to print what one speaks into a microphone and to take verbal commands. Live video images of roads, people and cars taken by a camera mounted on a car are visual patterns. Pattern recognition software makes it possible for a car to drive itself while staying on the road and avoiding hitting people or other cars. A human face is a visual pattern. Pattern recognition software is able to scan images of people looking for known terrorists. The ability of machines to reliably recognize patterns is much inferior to human pattern recognition ability, but is improving steadily and the number of potential applications is large. As the power of computers continues to double about every one and a half or two years, the ability of machines to recognize patterns will continue to improve.

An artificial intelligence is a machine or computer program which is able to do some of the things that currently can be done by people much better than by computers. Pattern recognition is one aspect of artificial intelligence. Other aspects include game playing, intelligent control of robots and other machines, reasoning, creativity, interacting with people by speaking and listening, and problem solving.

Applications of pattern recognition and artificial intelligence include the following:

  1. Reading Print and Handwriting - For sorting mail, reading amounts on checks, reading and processing documents, or interpreting for the blind.
  2. Speech Recognition - For vocal control of computers and text entry in computers, especially small portable computers with limited keyboards.
  3. Biotechnology - Finding genes and control patterns in DNA, finding similarities in genes and in proteins, and finding genetic patterns of cancers.
  4. Robotics - Efficient effective control of robot arms, vision for robots, autonomous or semi-autonomous robots that need little supervision or bipedal humanoid robots that can walk and run safely and efficiently.
  5. Aids for the Handicapped - Readers for the blind, guides for the blind, or items that intuitively automate the necessities of life.
  6. Autonomous Vehicles - For carrying supplies in military convoys, for space exploration, or for safer highways.
  7. Airplane Autopilots - Automatic takeoff and landing, even semi-autonomous pilot-less drones.
  8. Better Factory Automation - Machines that can operate with less human supervision, machines with vision and some intelligence that can deal with variability better than current machinery, and real-time machine inspection for product flaws.
  9. Anti-Terrorism - Recognizing terrorists, recognizing bombs, and any other weapons.
  10. Internet Search Engines - Search engine companies are trying to create search engines that understand to some extent the documents they are cataloging, and respond to natural language queries instead of just looking for keywords.
  11. Internet Routers - Internet routers use artificial intelligence for routing messages.
  12. Understanding How the Human Brain Works - Studying ways to produce machine intelligence often sheds light on how the human brain works. Many advances in psychology, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence have resulted from applying knowledge from one of these fields to another.

Research in Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are interested in pattern recognition or artificial intelligence:

  1. Randy Brown has done research for the U.S. Postal Service on machine recognition of addresses for mail sorting. His current interests include machine vision, reinforcement learning, artificial neural networks, and application of insights from neurobiology to pattern recognition and artificial intelligence.
  2. Magda El-Shenawee has applied simulated evolution methods to the pattern recognition problem of microwave imaging breast tumors.

Courses for the Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence Specialty Areas

Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

MATH 3083

Linear Algebra - Take as a Math/Science Elective

CSCE 2143

Data Structures

CSCE 4613

Artificial Intelligence

ELEG 5653

Artificial Neural Networks

ELEG 4403

Control Systems

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

CSCE 3313

Algorithms

ELEG 5443

Nonlinear Systems Analysis and Control

ELEG 5453

Adaptive Filtering and Control

ELEG 5473

Intelligent Transportation Systems

The power area in electrical engineering consists of the design of motors, generators, and the electrical distribution grid that distributes electricity to homes and businesses around the country. It also includes the design of electronic circuitry for controlling power and motors. Motor and generator design are important issues in the design of electric and hybrid cars. Improving the stability and reliability of our electricity distribution grid is an important topic.

Summary

Radio frequency waves and microwaves are at the heart of many applications of electronics. Some of these applications include:

  1. Radar - Radar is used for tracking aircraft and missiles. Airborne radar is used for mapping the earth and locating natural resources. Whether radar tracks storms and provides storm warnings.
  2. Cell Phones and Wireless Internet - Cell phones and wireless internet operate using microwaves. The designers of this equipment must design circuitry that produces, detects, and manipulates microwaves.
  3. Antennas - Specialists in electromagnetic fields and waves are the people who design antennas.
  4. Medical Imaging - Work is being done on using microwaves to detect breast cancer.

Research on RF and Microwaves at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing research on RF and microwaves. Details on their research can be found by clicking on their names and on the Electromagnetics Group link.

  1. Samir El-Ghazaly does research on High Frequency and high-speed systems; Microwave and RF Circuits; Wireless Communication Systems; Circuits and Devices; Reconfigurable Antennas; Microwave-Optical Interactions; Microwave and Millimeter-Wave Semiconductor Devices and Passive Components; MEMS in RF Circuits; Analysis of Microwave Transmission Lines; Semiconductor Device Simulations; Ultra-Short Pulse Propagation; Electromagnetics; Wave-Device Interactions; and Numerical Techniques Applied to Microwave Integrated Circuits.
  2. Magda El-Shenawee does research on breast-cancer detection, microwave imaging, buried object detection, rough-surface-scattering, Computational electromagnetics, and RF microwave modeling.

Courses for the RF and Microwaves Specialty Area

Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

MATH 3353

Numerical Metthods in Analysis

MATH 3423

Advanced Applied Mathematics

ELEG 4713

Electromagnetic Transmission

ELEG 4723

Introduction to RF and Microwave Design

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

ELEG 4713

Electromagnetic Transmission

ELEG 4723

Introduction to RF and Microwave Design

ELEG 5713

Antennas and Radiation

ELEG 5723

Advanced Microwave Design

ELEG 5733

Remote Sensing Systems

ELEG 5743

Radar Systems

ELEG 5753

Satellite Communications and Navigation Systems

ELEG 5763

Advanced Electromagnetic Scattering and Transmission

Summary

An integrated circuit chip is a small square piece of silicon, less than a centimeter across, which contains anywhere from a few transistors to billions of transistors embedded in the silicon. The transistors are all wired together into a single circuit by microscopic wires made of thin films of metal. The ability to cheaply construct a circuit containing millions or even billions of transistors and wires in a small space accounts for most of the power of present day electronics.

The microprocessor that powers a P.C. is an integrated circuit containing several hundred million transistors. The individual transistors and wires in it are too small to be seen with a visible light microscope. If it were magnified enough that all of the details could be seen, it would look somewhat like the map of a large city. The circuitry in a cell phone is almost all in integrated circuit chips. The circuitry in television sets, radios, iPods, computers, and video games, is likewise almost entirely in the integrated circuit chips.

The number of transistors that can be put in a single integrated circuit chip has been doubling about every year and a half or two years for the last 40 years. This observation has come to be called Moore's Law. Because of Moore's Law, the complexity of the electronic devices that people can purchase and own for the same price doubles every couple of years. This has been one of the main driving forces in the ever increasing power of computers and of personal electronics. There is no indication that Moore's Law will end any time soon.

The following two specialties are the main subdivisions within integrated circuit design:

  1. Processing - A process engineer studies physics, chemistry, and material science. The process engineer designs the physical and chemical processes that are used to create a semiconductor device or integrated circuit. His work is mostly applied physics and chemistry. The process engineers are the men and women who are responsible for the transistors and wires on chips becoming smaller every year, so that more circuitry can be put on a chip each year. It is their work that drives Moore's Law.
  2. Chip Design - A chip designer designs and lays out the circuitry on an integrated circuit chip. The physical and chemical processes used are given to him by process engineers, and he or she designs the circuitry on the chip and does the physical layout. In most cases the circuitry of a chip containing tens or hundreds of millions of transistors is designed by teams of engineers working together. The circuitry is too complex for any one man or woman to do it all.

Research on Semiconductor Devices and Integrated Circuits at the University of Arkansas

The following Electrical Engineering faculty are doing research on semiconductor devices and integrated circuits at the University of Arkansas. Details on their research and their labs can be seen by clicking on their names.

  1. Simon Ang is the current director of HiDEC. He is doing research on chip design.
  2. Alan Mantooth is doing research on semiconductor device and circuit modeling and on chip design.
  3. Hameed Naseem is doing research on semiconductor processes.

Courses for the Semiconductor Devices and Integrated Circuits Specialty Areas

Recommended Undergraduate Elective Courses

ELEG 4203

Semiconductor Devices

ELEG 4233

Introduction to Integrated Circuit Design

ELEG 4243

Analog Integrated Circuits

Additional Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

ELEG 4223

Design and Fabrication of Solar Cells

ELEG 5213

Integrated Circuit Fabrication Technology

ELEG 5233

Solid-State Electronics

ELEG 5253L

Integrated Circuit Design Laboratory I

ELEG 5263L

Integrated Circuit Design Laboratory II

ELEG 5293L

Integrated Circuits Fabrication Laboratory

ELEG 5313

Power Semiconductor Devices

ELEG 5323

Semiconductor Nanostructures I

ELEG 5333

Semiconductor Nanostructures II

ELEG 6213

Semiconductor Surfaces

ELEG 6233

Solid State Electronics II