Wednesday, October 1, 2008

NSF Funds Research Center

The National Science Foundation awarded a five year $18.5 million grant to establish an Engineering Research Center (ERC) at the University of Arizona. The researchers at ERC will work to develop optoelectronic technologies to provide for high bandwidth and low-cost widespread access networks to deliver data more than a thousand times faster. As a result, communications and the healthcare industries will benefit.

The University of Arizona and nine partner universities (UCSD, Caltech, Stanford University, USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, Norfolk State University, and Tuskegee University) will collaborate and form the Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN). The research is timely since there are predictions that the demand for internet access especially in North America will exceed existing internet capacity within the next three to five years. Analysts however, say that failing to invest in new access infrastructure won’t cause the internet to collapse, but it will mean that innovations will slow down.

“CIAN’s goal over the next decade is to devise and adapt chip-scale optoelectronic integration technologies capable of delivering data at 20 gigabits or 10 billion operations per second to single users anywhere, at anytime, and at a lower cost”, according to Shaya Fainman, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSD and CIAN Deputy Director . “The current data transfer rate is about 10 megabits or 10 million operations per second.”

The new Center will work to create truly transformative systems critical to national information infrastructure, “Our vision is to create the PC equivalent of the optical access network.” said CIAN Director Nasser Peyghambarian, Professor at the University of Arizona. In addition, University of Arizona Professor Robert Norwood will head CIAN’s industrial collaboration and technology transfer program so that industry will have a voice in the selection of research projects and play a part in transferring technology.