Timing is everything

ASU professor earns DARPA award to improve 5G, 6G and other wireless communication systems

October 21, 2020

If your smartphone could only connect to a single tower, it wouldn’t be a very reliable communication system. The same is true for many other types of communication, sensing and navigation systems such as 5G networks, wireless sensor networks and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.

Distributed systems outperform the traditional centralized systems in terms of cost, communication reliability, data rate, system flexibility, imaging precision, real-time awareness and tolerance to interference. Saeed Zeinolabedinzadeh poses with an integrated circuit developed in his Millimeter-Wave, Terahertz and Photonic Integrated Circuits Lab. Saeed Zeinolabedinzadeh, an assistant professor of electrical, computer and energy engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, is developing a new, high-precision, low-latency and cost-effective time transfer scheme for wireless communication in a project funded by a DARPA Young Faculty Award. Photo by Connor McKee/ASU Download Full Image

In addition, by improving their relative positioning and timing measurements, these systems can enable new applications in 5G and 6G communications, sensing, navigation, imaging and distributed computing, said Saeed Zeinolabedinzadeh, an assistant professor of electrical computer and energy engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

However, distributed systems require a precise common clock. Exact and low-latency wireless time transfer is one of the most challenging aspects of distributed systems that limits their capacity for use in more complex and higher-frequency applications.

Zeinolabedinzadeh is working on a new, high-precision, low-latency and cost-effective time transfer scheme for wireless communications, including 5G, 6G, wireless sensor networks, navigation and defense applications.

“Our proposed approach significantly increases the synchronization accuracy and reduces the synchronization time,” Zeinolabedinzadeh said. “In addition, the system can robustly operate while the radios within a communication system are moving at high speed such as a user in the 5G network.”   

Such improvements would enhance the performance and reliability of wireless systems used for national security as well as other communications applications.

The project, “Novel Analog Wireless Synchronizing Scheme for Extremely Low Latency Time Transfer,” has caught the attention of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and earned Zeinolabedinzadeh a DARPA Young Faculty Award

DARPA Young Faculty Awards provide recipients funding, mentoring and connections to develop their ideas and expand research that is beneficial to national security. Zeinolabedinzadeh’s project will be supported by $500,000 in funding over two years with a chance for an additional $500,000 the following year.

“Saeed is working to improve critical aspects of synchronization across our connected world,” said Stephen Phillips, director of the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of the six Fulton Schools. “His selection for a DARPA Young Faculty Award confirms the importance and potential impact of his research to applications of interest to the United States defense infrastructure and much more.”

Zeinolabedinzadeh’s work addresses shortcomings that have been acknowledged in other communication structures. GPS systems have been used for time transfer, but these systems cannot satisfy the timing accuracy required for today’s high-frequency applications with extremely high data rates.

“One of the main challenges of the realization of high-frequency distributed systems is precise timing synchronization with minimal latency,” Zeinolabedinzadeh said. “Depending on the frequency and data rate, a subnanosecond synchronization accuracy is required for practical systems. Precise estimation of the relative location and high-accuracy time transfer with minimal latency are some of the challenges that we are addressing in this project. One of the great advantages of the proposed methods is the reliable operation in GPS-denied regions.”

Zeinolabedinzadeh’s goal is to demonstrate the proposed new concepts with a practical implementation using “advanced integrated circuit technology that is found in almost any portable, low-cost wireless system used today.”

The outcomes Zeinolabedinzadeh envisions for his research could impact many emerging connected technologies from the internet of things to next-generation 5G systems to smart autonomous vehicles and a wide range of other wireless communication and imaging systems.

“The safety and security of our lives today is directly tied to these technologies,” Zeinolabedinzadeh said. “Therefore, any step in the technological advancement of these systems will improve human safety, security, social life and the economy.”

Being selected for a DARPA Young Faculty Award presents unique opportunities for Zeinolabedinzadeh and his research team in the Millimeter-Wave, Terahertz and Photonic Integrated Circuits Lab

“It is going to shape our research in an interesting direction that can have a major impact in the future of wireless systems,” Zeinolabedinzadeh said. 

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU School of Molecular Sciences professor recognized with midcareer achievement award

October 21, 2020

Arizona State University's Alexandra Ros has just received the Advancing Electrokinetic Science Electrophoresis Society Mid-Career Achievement Award for her exceptional contributions to the field of electrophoresis and microfluidics.

In a field dominated by men, Ros more than holds her own. Alexandra Ros Alexandra Ros, a professor in ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences and the Center for Applied Structural Discovery in the Biodesign Institute. Photo by Mary Zhu Download Full Image

Ros is a professor in ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences and faculty member in the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Applied Structural Discovery. Her current research interests include migration mechanisms in the micro- and nano-environment for biomolecules and subcellular species with a focus on electrokinetic methods, hyphenation of analytical approaches for single cell analysis, and development of microfluidic tools for emerging crystallography techniques.

“Alexandra’s work is typified by outstanding scholarship and a relentless commitment to making critical advances that benefit science and society at large,” said Ian Gould, interim director of the School of Molecular Sciences. “I am very happy to see her recognized with this outstanding and richly deserved award.”

“I am deeply grateful to the Electrophoresis Society for honoring me with this award,” Ros said.

The Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies (FACSS) has organized an international conference at the forefront of analytical chemistry and allied sciences since 1974. In 2011, this conference was renamed to the SciX Conference presented by FACSS with the tagline, "The Great Scientific Exchange."

The SciX conference continues to grow because it is highly valued by attendees for its technical program, world-class exhibits and many career-building networking opportunities. It was at this recent conference where Ros was presented the award by Advancing Electrokinetic Science President and Professor Christopher Harrison.

Other prestigious awards Ros has received include a NSF CAREER award (2012), a Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers (2015) and an Innovation Award from FACSS (2018).

She received her diploma in chemistry from the Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg, Germany, and her PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland.

As a postdoctoral researcher, Ros developed an interest in microfluidic platforms and their analytical applications. She joined the Biophysics and Nanoscience Group at Bielefeld University, Germany, in 2000, where she followed her interests in this area.

From 2001 to 2006, she served as principal investigator at Bielefeld University, Germany, where she led several projects on migration mechanisms and single cell analysis in the microfluidic format. In 2007, she finished her Habilitation and received the Venia Legendi in experimental physics from Bielefeld University.

She then joined Arizona State University in 2008 as assistant professor where she was promoted to associate professor in 2014 and full professor this year. In 2015 and 2016, Ros was appointed visiting scientist at the Georg-August University in Goettingen, Germany. 

Ros has recently developed a unique method for reducing sample size and waste (which can be as high as 99%) in her team’s serial femtosecond crystallography with X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) experiments.

The method is specifically appealing for hard-to-crystallize proteins, such as membrane proteins, as it yields high-resolution structural information from small micro- or nanocrystals, thus reducing the contribution of crystal defects and avoiding tedious (if not impossible) growth of large crystals, as is required in traditional synchrotron-based crystallography.

The researcher’s novel approach interleaves sample-laden liquid “slugs” within a sacrificial liquid, so that a fast-moving liquid microjet is maintained with the sample present only during exposure to the femtosecond XFEL pulses (one millionth of one billionth of a second in duration).

Jenny Green

Clinical associate professor, School of Molecular Sciences