Multiscale Electrophysical Systems to the Rescue
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Distributed widespread sensing and actuation is revolutionizing our ability to predict and respond to natural disaster, disease, and the effects of environmental change. Supporting this revolution is the advancement of low-cost embedded processors to move data from sensors to advanced computation, 3D rapid prototyping to integrate electronics and mechanics, and micro and nanotechnology to build sensing and actuating elements that work at the cellular and molecular level. In this talk, I will present my research in engineering such electrophysical devices for critical areas including water monitoring, renewable energy and sustainability, communications, and chemical and biological sensing. As a highlight, I will detail promising salinity and organics sensors for water monitoring and graphene-based technology that may enable complete systems-on-chip solutions. In the area of water monitoring for example, pacific islands like Hawaii and America Samoa are vulnerable to loss of freshwater through over-pumping of aquifers, saltwater incursion, reduction of recharge of aquifers through over building, and leaking of oils and other contaminants. Since the hydrogeology of the island is not entirely known, high spatial and temporal monitoring of wells is important to understanding sustainable yield and responding to contamination events. As a result, I am engineering robust sensor modules for these harsh environments and have to work closely with well owners to deploy them. In addition, I am investigating large-scale display technology to aid in the prototyping process as well as to understand quickly the large amounts of data that would result from such novel arrayed sensors and subsequent modeling. As another example, graphene holds the potential of unlocking the ability to chemically probe at the subcellular level and advance high-throughput sequencing of genetic material. Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms and has amazing electrical and mechanical properties, but has been difficult to build into complete systems. I will show how we have overcome some of the limitations such as making low-contact resistance using liquid metal and an inexpensive technique to form transistors using honey. I am also building tools to advance the downstream analysis of such high-throughput data, which can then give insight into a number of genetic disorders and cancers. I will summarize with educational approaches for on-boarding and involving students in this multidisciplinary research.
Dr. David Garmire is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He holds B.S. degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University in May 2000 (with university and college honors), and a Ph.D. in EECS at the University of California at Berkeley in September 2007 with a certificate in Management of Technology from the Haas School of Business. He received the UH System Regents' Medal for Excellence in Teaching, the UH System Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate teaching, the Ross N Tucker Award for advancing semiconductor technology, the Sevin Rosen Funds Award for Innovation, the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Education invited attendee, and the National Academy of Inventors Distinguished Member Award. His research focuses on electrophysical devices such as micro/nanoelectromechanical Systems (M/NEMS), sustainability, and biomedical devices. The research is funded in part by the Department of Navy, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Institute of Health, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.