Electrical Engineering

Automatic Control

The field of Automatic Control studies how to make systems behave in a desired manner using feedback mechanisms and proper controller designs. Automatic Control plays a critical role in almost every aspect of our daily lives, including in home appliances, automobiles, aircraft, biomedical devices, manufacturing systems, the power grid, robots, and autonomous vehicles.

The Automatic Control area has a long history of major contributions to servomechanisms, manufacturing, automation, and space exploration. In this era of the Internet and information technology, faculty are addressing challenging control problems in systems with mobility and autonomy capabilities such as large robotic swarms and automated transportation systems, smart homes and cities, humanoid robots, and unmanned systems in the air, land, and sea. Tackling these complex systems requires research and education in innovative algorithms for coordination and control of large-scale systems, machine-learning techniques for perception and cognition capabilities that allow the systems to adapt to unstructured/unknown environments, and game-theoretic approaches to ensuring security and reliability. The faculty look forward to working with enthusiastic and highly motivated students to solve these challenging problems.

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Fields and Optics

The Fields and Optics (FO) area consists of 16 primary faculty (and 16 affiliated faculty) who study electromagnetic waves, both experimentally and theoretically. Such waves are ubiquitous, encompassing a broad range of phenomena encountered in many contexts including everyday life, from radio waves through optics and beyond. In the radio frequency domain, applications include cellular networks, radios, radar, remote controls, and integrated circuit design, as well as other forms of wireless communication and sensing. In the optical domain, applications include lasers, light emitting diodes, fiber optics for long-haul telecommunications, smartphone cameras, medical sensing, photovoltaics and other forms of renewable energy, nano and quantum photonics, photonic materials, manufacturing and quality control, telescopes, microscopes, and many more. The work of the FO area is also expected to play an important role in future technologies, such as 5G, quantum information, quantum computing, autonomous vehicles, videophones, and portable medical sensors.

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Microelectronics & Nanotechnology

The Microelectronics and Nanotechnology (MN) area consists of twenty-plus faculty members with active research and instructional programs in Nanoelectronics, Energy Conversion, Nanomaterials, Micro and Nanoelectromechanical Systems (MEMS/NEMS), Wide Bandgap Semiconductors,Computational Nanotechnology, and Nanophotonics. Experimental programs are located primarily in the new state-of-the-art facility at the Birck Nanotechnology Center (BNC). Purdue is also the home of the NSF-sponsored Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) that created the science gateway nanoHUB.org with nearly 100,000 users worldwide.

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Schweitzer Power and Energy Systems

This area focuses on electrical power engineering and the electrical to non-electrical energy conversion process. Topics of interest include electromechanical component design, power electronics design, passive component design, power magnetics, electric drives, electric propulsion systems, vehicle (ship, spacecraft, automotive) electric systems, and power system control and stability.

In the push for sustainability and reduced carbon emissions, energy conversion technologies are critical. Energy sources and systems faculty are at the forefront of modern electromechanical component and system design, analysis, and control. They also have significant efforts in power electronics – particularly in the areas of control and passive component design.

As the demand for higher reliability and efficiency on aircraft and marine platforms increases, hydraulic control systems are being replaced by electric drive systems. Research is underway to accurately model the performance of alternative power-by-wire electric drive systems. Computer simulation packages are being designed that accurately evaluate complete power-by-wire systems, including actuators, converters, electric drives, and electrical distribution systems. Evaluation and design of electric propulsion systems is also in progress. The deregulation of the electric utilities coupled with the integration of alternative energy sources provides new challenges in power distribution and control. Current research includes evaluating the impact of deregulation on power quality, optimal control of the distribution system, and instability detection.

The Schweitzer Power and Energy Area has several research and undergraduate laboratories including the Grainger Energy Conversion and Microgrid Laboratory, the Grainger Power Magnetics Fabrication Laboratory, the Energy Storage and Material Characterization Laboratory, the Electric Vehicle Systems Laboratory, the Energy Systems Simulation Laboratory, the High Speed Machines Laboratory, the Alternative Energy Grid Integration and Systems Laboratory, and the Special Projects Laboratory.

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