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Diving into the Future: ECE ENDS Lab Explores New Frontiers of Computing

circuit board

The future of computing is here. Inside the Boise State Electronic and Neuromorphic Devices and Systems (ENDS) Lab, researchers are pushing the bounds of innovative technology everyday. I recently had the privilege to interview two brilliant PhD students, Farhana Afrin and Ben Etcheverry, who are working on neuromorphic computing with advisor Dr. Kurtis Cantley. Neuromorphic computing uses hardware and software architectures that are designed to mimic the systems in the human brain and nervous system. The ENDS Lab is geared toward the investigation and development of electronic materials, devices, and circuits for application in all areas of neuromorphic computing. Afrin and Etcheverry design, fabricate, and characterize devices and circuits that behave like neurons and synapses in the brain. This includes circuits and systems fabricated in standard CMOS processes as well as emerging devices using novel materials. This research is well integrated, as it combines expertise in multiple areas including materials science, integrated circuit design, advanced electrical characterization techniques, and semiconductor processing and fabrication. 

Neuromorphic computation is very promising in the current semiconductor and IC industry, as it is able to perform with low power, higher fault tolerance and scalability. Ultimately, neuromorphic computing is the next frontier in technology, revolutionizing the future of our technological landscape. From robotics and healthcare, to autonomous systems, neuromorphic computing has the ability to transform many industries and applications. By bridging the gap between biology and technology, neuromorphic computing paves the way for advanced brain-inspired computing systems, reshaping our interaction and utilization of technology.

Etcheverry started his college career originally at the College of Southern Idaho, later competing his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Boise State. During his time as an undergraduate, Etcheverry joined the ENDS Lab team and worked in commercial power and lighting design with Engineering Consultants Incorporated. Now, Etcheverry is pursuing his PhD in electrical and computer engineering and researching neuromorphic device design, IC fabrication, and neuromorphic architecture.

Etcheverry and Afrin
Etcheverry (left) and Afrin (right)

Afrin joined Boise State University as a PhD student in the ECE department in 2020 after completing her MS in ECE from Louisiana State University. Her interest is to explore how artificial neural networks are used in analog, digital, mixed-signal VLSI, and software systems. Afrin’s research focuses on the investigation and development of the function and application of neural networks and neuromorphic architectures using CAD tools such as Cadence.

Arbitrary Waveform Generator
Arbitrary Waveform Generator

This is an arbitrary waveform generator (on left). This device feeds the network simple patterns of electrical waveforms; the network is then tested by detecting whether it can learn the simple pattern from the AWG, which is a real-time signal that is similar to the one of the human brain.

microprobe station
Microprobe Station

In addition to modeling and simulation, the ENDS lab also extensively test and characterize devices and circuit hardware. Here is a microprobe station (on right). This is used to test chips used in the network. Specifically, the station is used for verification characterization.

The Boise State ENDS Lab is a truly inspiring destination for future electrical and computer engineering students. This dynamic research lab truly showcases the power of education and innovation. PhD students Farhana Afrin and Ben Etcheverry exemplify the limitless potential within the field of electrical and computer engineering.

If you are intrigued by the possibilities unlocked by the ENDS Lab’s research, we invite you to learn more about the incredible opportunities within our department.

Join us in unleashing your potential in electrical and computer engineering!

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