UCLA's Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS) is a major research enterprise developing wireless sensor systems and applying this revolutionary technology to radically transform critical scientific and societal applications. Expanding on the concept of the Internet, these large-scale distributed systems, composed of smart wireless sensors and actuators embedded in the physical world, will eventually connect the entire physical world to the virtual world.
Embedded networked sensing systems can reveal previously unobservable phenomena through the use of adaptive, self-configuring wireless systems that enable spatially and temporally dense monitoring of challenging physical environments. This new technology will revolutionize biological and physical sciences, including tracking ecosystem dynamics and large-scale, real-time monitoring of seismic events.
The center forms a cornerstone for new transdisciplinary partnerships, such as creating innovative formats for film, theater, and digital media arts and enabling remote monitoring of patients' health. CENS hopes to have a significant impact on gender disparities in science and engineering at UCLA, providing increased hands-on research opportunities for undergraduate students, and middle and high school students.
The Center for Nanoscience Innovation for Defense (CNID) was established to facilitate the rapid transition of research innovation in the nanosciences into applications for the defense sector. With nationally renowned faculty employing interdisciplinary approaches, the center brings discovery and innovation in nanoscience and nanoengineering to America's industries for the purpose of defense.
The center's research program seeks to understand and thereby control nanometer-scale systems for advanced technology. Research at UCLA focuses on four areas: quantum telecommunication nanodevices, development of a single-electron-spin microscope, photonic crystal nanooptical structures and circuits, and molecular level electronic and mechanical devices.
Funding through CNID will help equip the California NanoSystems Institute with state-of-the-art high-tech instrumentation, and also support graduate fellowships that will attract the best graduate students worldwide to advance nanoscience and nanotechnology research. Those students will be not only the nanoscience university researchers of the future, but also the nanotechnology talent for high-tech American businesses.
The promise that nanotechnology holds for industries ranging from semiconductors to health care to national defense has largely been held back by the lack of manufacturing platforms that allow complex nanoengineered products and systems to be adopted on a mass scale. UCLA's Center for Scalable and Integrated Nanomanufacturing (SINAM) is bridging the gap between scientific research and economically feasible manufacturing solutions.
SINAM researchers will combine fundamental science and nanomanufacturing technology in new ways, transforming laboratory science into industrial applications in nanoelectronics and biomedicine. A multidisciplinary team of researchers will devise commercial nanomanufacturing tool designs and build them into systems that will enable cost-effective nanomanufacturing. A better understanding of the nano world will lead to more powerful microscopes, groundbreaking nanofabrication technologies, and exciting new applications in information technology and medicine.
The Flight Systems Research Center, established in 1985 under a Memorandum-of-Agreement with the NASA Ames/Dryden Flight Research Facility, is devoted to interdisciplinary research in flight systems and related technologies. Faculty from the Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Departments are currently associated with the center. Current research projects include:
Dramatic advances in nanotechnology, molecular electronics, and quantum computing are creating the potential for significant expansion of current semiconductor technologies. Researchers at UCLA will make pioneering contributions to these fields through the Functional Engineered Nano Architectonics Focus Center (FENA) funded by the Semiconductor Research Association and the Department of Defense.
The term "architectonics" is derived from a Greek word meaning master builder--an apt description of the center's researchers as they build a new generation of nano-scale materials, structures, and devices for the electronics industry.
The FENA team will explore the challenges facing the semiconductor industry as the electronic devices and circuits that power today's computers grow ever smaller. With more and more transistors and other components squeezed onto a single chip, manufacturers are rapidly approaching the physical limits posed by current chip-making processes. Researchers seek to resolve a number of issues related to post-CMOS technologies that will allow them to extend semiconductor technology further into the realm of the nanoscale.
The Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration (CMISE) is realizing a unique approach by fusing biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information science to enrich the development of revolutionary application-specific technologies. For example, a cell fuses genetic processes with nanoscale sensors and actuators to result in an efficient, autonomous micro "factory." The basic processes that occur at the molecular level have opened up a world where the integration of individual components can eventually derive higher-order functionalities or emergent properties.
The fusion of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and informatics will culminate in systemic architectures that will rival those that have taken millions of years to come to fruition in nature. CMISE researchers also hope to achieve a fundamental comprehension of how the interplay of these three areas can be manipulated on the molecular level to produce enhanced, emergent properties.
CMISE is organized into four interdisciplinary research groups: energetics, metabolics, systematics, and CMISESat. The energetics group harnesses and transforms energy across a range of disciplines, while the metabolics team develops nano/micro systems for single-cell metabolism study and network reconstruction of radiation damage to cells. The systematics group enables intelligent cell mimetic systems, and monitors and controls artificial and biological subsystems. The CMISESat team provides the space testbed environment for validation and demonstration of emerging CMISE technologies.
The Institute of Plasma and Fusion Research is a UCLA organized research unit dedicated to research into plasma physics, fusion energy, and the applications of plasmas in other areas of science and engineering. Students, professional research staff, and faculty, generally working in groups, study basic laboratory plasmas, plasma/fusion confinement experiments, fusion engineering and nuclear technology, computer simulations and the theory of plasmas, advanced plasma diagnostic development, laser/plasma interactions, and the use of plasma in applications ranging from particle accelerators to the processing of materials and surfaces used in microelectronics or for coatings.
The institute and its members are affiliated with both the College of Letters and Science and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Faculty, staff, and students come from the Electrical Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Physics and Astronomy Departments.
Magnetic confinement fusion experiments include a tokamak machine, special confinement devices, and machines for basic plasma studies. Experiments have been built to simulate and study space plasmas and to investigate laser/plasma interactions as a means of accelerating particles for high-energy physics. Plasma sources are used in experiments to study plasma/material interactions research and as sources for the production of thin films and coatings. Theoretical and computer simulation research aims at understanding plasma behavior, ranging from plasmas in space to fusion plasmas. Fusion engineering activities include development of new diagnostics and RF power sources and the study of materials behavior, fusion nuclear technology, and fusion reactors.
Research in plasma physics and fusion energy is an exciting area of modern technology. Last year, UCLA's plasma and fusion programs received more than $12 million in research grants from several federal agencies, from the National Laboratories, and from industry. The largest amount of funding comes from the U.S. Department of Energy, but substantial resources are received from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and research offices of the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Western Institute of Nanoelectronics (WIN), one of the world's largest joint research programs focusing on spintronics, brings together nearly 30 eminent researchers to explore critically-needed innovations in semiconductor technology.
A National Institute of Excellence, WIN leverages what are considered the best interdisciplinary nanoelectronics talents in the world to explore and develop advanced research devices, circuits, and nanosystems with performance beyond conventional CMOS devices. The pioneering new technology of spintronics relies on the spin of an electron to carry information, and holds promise in minimizing power consumption for next-generation electronics.
As rapid progress in the miniaturization of semiconductor electronic devices leads toward chip features smaller than 100 nanometers in size, reseaerchers have had to begin exploring new ways to make electronics more efficient. Today's devices, based on CMOS standards, cannot get much smaller and still function effectively.
Information-processing technology has so far relied on charge-based devices, ranging from vacuum tubes to million-transistor microchips. Conventional electronic devices simply move these electric charges around, ignoring the spin on each electron. Spintronics aims to put that extra spin action to work--effectively corralling electrons into one smooth chain of motion.