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$1.2M in New Wireless Networking Research Grants

August 16, 2016

ECE Associate Professor Tommaso Melodia has recently been awarded several national grants totaling over $1.2M to develop new wireless networks.

He was awarded a $350K NSF grant for "Beyond Separate-Then-Centralize: A Cellular Operating System to Optimize Software-Defined 5G Wireless Networks" which will develop a new operating system for cellular wireless networks based on new software-defined networking concepts. 

Melodia received a second $300K NSF grant (with co-Pi ECE Assistant Professor Matteo Rinaldi) for "Toward Wirelessly Rechargeable And Ultrasonically-networked Implantable Systems" which will develop a new implantable miniaturized medical device based on micro-electro mechanical system (MEMS) technology that is wirelessly networked and recharged through ultrasounds. 

Melodia also was awarded a $130k grant from the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop assured wireless networking techniques in contested environments affected by jamming. 

Earlier this year, he received a 3-year $300k grant from the Office of Naval Research to develop the principles of automated decomposition of centralized wireless network control programs, a new $100k grant from the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Andro Computational Solutions to implement algorithms for joint routing and spectrum allocation on software-defined radios, and a $45k from the Massachusetts Technology Transfer to advance ultrasonic networking technology toward commercialization.

NSF Abstract for Beyond Separate-Then-Centralize: A Cellular Operating System to Optimize Software-Defined 5G Wireless Networks

Existing wireless networks rely on closed and inflexible architectures that often limit and delay the adoption of new wireless networking technologies. The notion of software defined networking (SDN) has therefore been recently introduced to simplify network control and to make it easier to introduce and deploy new applications and services. However, to date, existing SDN architectures are far from fulfilling the requirements of next-generation wireless networks. This project proposes a radically different approach to SDN for next-generation wireless cellular networks. At the core, it will try to develop a principled theory and practice of software-defined wireless networking for next generation cellular networks based on cross-layer optimization theory. The project is expected to bridge the gap between SDN and distributed network optimization/control; lead to simplified control plane that does not rely on any centralized control entity; finally, considerably ease the burden of network engineers that will be able to control and manage the network operations without in-depth understanding of distributed optimization concepts.

This project will study the core building principles of a Wireless Cellular Operating System (WiCOS). WiCOS will provide the network designer with a set of abstractions hiding the low-level details of the network operations as well as details of their distributed implementation, thus providing the network designer with a centralized view abstracting the network functionalities at a high level. Based on this abstract representation, WiCOS will take centralized control programs written on a high-level view of the network and automatically generate distributed cross-layer control programs based on optimization theory that are executed at the network edge by each individual network element on an abstract, common representation of the radio hardware. The goals will be accomplished by executing four research tasks: WiCOS architecture design; automated network control problem decomposition; programmable protocol stack (PPS) design; and prototyping and demonstration. The project will provide demonstrations of the proposed WiCOS framework by concentrating on three scenarios, i.e., coordinated networks, semi-coordinated networks and uncoordinated networks, and develop detailed demonstrations for each scenario.

NSF Abstract for Toward Wirelessly Rechargeable And Ultrasonically-networked Implantable Systems

The research objective of this project is to develop the foundations for a new family of Micro-electromechanical System (MEMS)-based miniaturized wireless implants that are networked and recharged through ultrasonic waves. The availability of low-energy micro-implants that communicate through low-power ultrasonic communications will enable real-time wireless telemetry and re-programmability while minimally affecting the implant battery life. Moreover, ultrasonic wireless battery charging could virtually eliminate the battery life constraint from the design of medical implants. For example, according to recent studies, 9% of patients experienced complications following a cardiac battery replacement. Lower power consumption and wireless battery charging would reduce these risks, as well as replacement costs. The team will collaborate with leading clinical experts to apply the proposed technology to different devices in the medical field. The project will support and train two graduate students who will become experts in the intra-body ultrasonic networking technology and its applications.

The project will be articulated into several basic research tasks, and revolve around an underlying effort to design and develop a miniaturized flexible sensing, processing, and networking platform (u-mote). The u-mote will be built by integrating miniaturized low-power FPGAs and microcontrollers to offer hardware and software re-programmability. The project will first seek to design new arrays of micro-machined ultrasonic Aluminum Nitride (AlN) MEMS transducers with bandwidth larger than 1 MHz offering focusing and beamforming capabilities. The ultrasonic communication interface will implement state-of-the-art communication and networking schemes that are fully software-defined and composable through a set of modular libraries. Finally, the u-mote will have new MEMS-based energy harvesting and ultrasonic wireless recharging capabilities, and a novel zero-standby-power wake-up interface.