Electrical & Computer Engineering  College of Engineering 

Dr. Yifei Li Awarded Prestigious DARPA Young Faculty Award

Dr. Yifei Li, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), won the highly competitive 2008 Young Faculty Award of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The award consists of a seed grant of $150,000 to advance high-risk, 'revolutionary research ideas that are critical to future technology developments'. This seed grant is aimed at building a full DARPA program at UMass in the near future. Earlier in the year, Dr. Li was awarded a $550,000 research grant by DARPA. Dr. Li joined the ECE department in September 2007. His research interests are in the field of RF/Photonics. Dr. Li received his Ph.D. from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

This award enables Dr. Li to develop a photonic version of a frequency mixer that will have a major impact on future high performance RF communications and sensing systems. Dr. Li's key innovative idea is to achieve close-to-ideal frequency mixing in the optical domain by quadratic optical phase modulation, which is intrinsic in the Quantum Confined Stark Effect of III-V quantum-well devices. In comparison, existing electronic mixers employ the nonlinearities of diodes or transistors for frequency mixing, which is far from being ideal. Thus, they contain large conversion loss, limited dynamic range, and often the bottleneck for system performance. The photonic frequency mixer potentially eliminates these limitations. Once realized, it not only brings significant performance gain to the existing RF systems, but also enables advanced RF front-end architectures with even higher performance, smaller size, lighter weight, and lower power consumption.

DARPA's Young Faculty Award program is designed to seek out ideas from non-tenured faculty in order to identify the next generation of researchers working in micro systems technology. The funded researchers will focus on concepts that are innovative, speculative, and high-risk. DARPA expects that the innovations researched under the Young Faculty Award program will assist in identifying new areas of research that are sufficiently important and challenging to warrant additional DARPA programs. DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office sponsors the Young Faculty Award program.

Author: "Dayalan Kasilingam"
Date: 1-10-2008

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