Logo: University of Southern California

Viterbi School Selected As HP Innovation Research Award Recipient

$75K to Hsieh Department's Alan Willner for work on high-bandwidth optical chip interconnections
Eric Mankin
August 14, 2008 — The USC Viterbi School of Engineering was selected as one of 33 recipients of a 2008 HP Labs Innovation Research Award, which
Alan Willner
is designed to encourage open collaboration with HP Labs resulting in mutually beneficial, high-impact research.

USC will collaborate with HP Labs, HP’s central research arm, on a $75,000 research initiative focused on high bandwidth optical interconnections for next-generation chips, Professor Alan Willner, author of the winning proposal titled "Signal Processing in On-Chip Optical Dense Wavelength-Division-Multiplexed (DWDM) Networks" and a professor in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, will lead the collaboration project with HP Labs.

Alexander (Sandy) Sawchuk, Chair of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering systems division hailed the news. "Our faculty join with me in congratulating Alan on the HP Innovation Research Award.  Alan is a pioneer in optical and photonic technology for communications over distances ranging from as small as a few microns (on a computer chip) to as large as intercontinental (thousands of kilometers).  This award recognizes his research achievements and the promise of future new innovative applications."

Willner explained the potential significance of the research. "Due to its potential for very high speeds, optics can potentially be used to achieve very-high-bandwidth interconnections for future computer chips.  This is as opposed to electronics, which has inherent resistance/capacitance that decreases speed and increases power consumption; this is evident in newer computers going to multi-core processors. 

"We will pursue using micro-ring resonator structures (tiny, space-efficient optical disks on silicon) to generate power-efficient data modulation formats for these tiny links. We will ensure high signal integrity for many different parallel wavelength channels."

Graduate student Lin Zhang will work with Willner and HP Labs Ray Beausoleil on the project. Zhang won the EE Best Student Research Paper Award for work done in collaboration with Beausoleil at HP Labs.  In 2007 and 2008, Lin and Beausoleil have co-authored 17 publications in international journals and conferences.

“Around the world, HP partners with the best and the brightest in industry and academia to drive open innovation and set the agenda for breakthrough technologies that are designed to change the world,” said Prith Banerjee, senior vice president of research at HP and director of HP Labs. “HP Labs’ selection of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering for a 2008 Innovation Award demonstrates outstanding achievement and will help accelerate HP Labs’ global research agenda in pursuit of scientific breakthroughs.”

HP reviewed more than 450 proposals from 200 universities in 28 countries on a range of topics within the five principal research themes at HP Labs – intelligent infrastructure, sustainability, information explosion, dynamic cloud services and content transformation. A key element of each award will be on-campus support for one graduate student researcher, who will also be eligible to apply to the HP Labs internship program in 2009. 

More details about The HP Labs Innovation Research Program and worldwide award recipients are available at http://www.hpl.hp.com/open_innovation/irp/index.html.