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The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image of an ant, as demonstrated for a high-school outreach program, has inspired Assistant Professor Jun Yao of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to develop bioinspired, ultrasensitive pressure and strain sensors using microparticles resembling the bristles or tactile hairs ubiquitous in insects. “My hope was that the extremely enlarged image of an ant, perhaps a bit scary and monster-like, would excite the students’ interest in the ordinarily invisible nanoscale domain,” says Yao. Much more than that, the demo inspired Yao’s own subsequent research and his resultant paper in the prestigious journal Nature Communications on the 4th of December 2018.

Electrical and computer engineering (ECE) graduate students Ali Kiaghadi and Morgan Baima were part of a team of UMass Amherst scientists who developed Tribexor, a fabric-based, triboelectric, joint-sensing system that can be integrated with loose-fitting clothing to sense a variety of joint movements such as flexion, extension, and velocity of joint movement. The UMass researchers introduced Tribexor in a paper presented at SenSys 2018, the 16th ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems, held from November 4 to 7 in Shenzhen, China. The information about Tribexor was reported in an Inside UMass article: New Fabric-Based Sensor Overcomes Loose Clothing Obstacle.

In early October Lindsey McGinnis of New England Public Radio reported on the pioneering research of Electrical and Computer Engineering doctoral student Chris Merola, who is trying to create much more efficient cell towers to service the sonic boom in cellular networks. “Americans' wireless data consumption has skyrocketed since 4G technology was introduced nearly a decade ago,” wrote McGinnis. “Smartphones have become essential for on-the-go work and entertainment, fueling the need for 5G. But how do you create a cellular network that accommodates everything from streaming services to self-driving cars?”

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A research team led by Qiangfei Xia of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has just published a paper in the prestigious journal Nature Nanotechnology about research into a promising building block for the next generation of nonvolatile random access memory and bio-inspired computing systems. The research team says that its working memristor crossbar arrays are “to the best of our knowledge, the first high-density electronic circuits with individually addressable components scaled down to two-nanometer dimension built with foundry-compatible fabrication technologies.”

Guangyu Xu of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is part of a team of scientists based at UMass Amherst that has been awarded a four-year, $953,300 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop miniature, implantable hardware, which can record complex brain activity in animals and analyze it in real time. See News Office release. The NSF funding is part of $16 million given to 18 cross-disciplinary projects around the country to conduct innovative research on neural and cognitive systems, thus attracting key coverage by the venerable Psychology Today.

A new paper by a research team led by Qiangfei Xia, Daniel Holcomb, and Joshua Yang of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst describes a pioneering new technique to support the safe use of all-important “digital keys” in protecting hardware security systems and producing more secure, compact, and efficient memristive hardware. The paper, titled "A provable key destruction scheme based on memristive crossbar arrays," has just been published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Nature Electronics.

According to two independent websites, Executive Biz and UASWeekly, the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) at UMass Amherst is part of a team including Bell Helicopter, Xwing, and Textron Systems that has just announced a cooperative agreement with NASA to help conduct an unmanned aircraft flight demonstration in 2020. CASA will provide weather avoidance technology for the ambitious project.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a four-year grant of $953,300 to a research team led by Professor Guangyu Xu of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to study the neural activity underlying complex animal behaviors. The research being funded by the NSF will allow scientists to find precise connections within and between different regions of the brain and trace the origin of animal behaviors down to cellular levels.

Once again the UMass Amherst College of Engineering ranks among the nation’s top engineering programs, climbing this year to No. 33 public in the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2019.

Professors Joshua Yang and Qiangfei Xia of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UMass Amherst led a research team from multiple institutions – including the NASA Ames Research Center, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, and the Air Force Research Lab – which has realized the first “capacitive neural network” experimentally, a leap forward in the development of a new neuro-biological architecture that can mimic very useful qualities of the human brain and nervous system.

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