Electronics engineers awarded prestigious Industrial Fellowships to design faster and safer digital future
Transceivers for beyond-5G wireless and reliable tracking for electronics will be developed through two new Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Industrial Fellowships at the University of Southampton.
Dr Mohammed El-Hajjar and Dr Basel Halak from the School of Electronics and Computer Science will spearhead collaborative research projects with industry partners InterDigital and Arm through the prestigious scheme. The academics are amongst 19 UK-based researchers selected by the RAEng this autumn to realise innovative new technologies.
Awardees will gain first-hand experience of working in an industrial environment and familiarise themselves with current industry practices, helping them to improve the industrial relevance of their academic research and teaching.
Mohammeds research will build upon several years of collaboration with InterDigital to advance the research and design of transceivers for 6G systems.
Wireless communications have played a key role in creating the world as we know it, he explains. With mobile subscribers continuing to demonstrate an insatiable demand for data and billions of smart wireless devices predicted in future services for smart homes, cities, transport, healthcare and environments, the explosive demand for wireless access will soon surpass the data transfer capacity of existing mobile systems. Achieving the vision of the Internet of Things relies on a huge number of smart devices or machines acting in different roles. A major challenge for allowing these devices to be connected is the design trade-off of the underlying cost, complexity and performance requirements of communications.
Working closely with InterDigital, I will design and develop novel signal processing techniques relying on the concept of Holographic Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) for allowing low-cost high-performance communications supporting a large number of devices.
Basel will partner with the security experts in Arm to build a detailed threat model of the integrated circuit (IC) supply chain.
The multinational-distributed nature of IC supply chain has made it vulnerable to hardware security attacks such as Trojan Insertion and IC counterfeit, he says. These have severe financial consequences, for example, counterfeiting is costing the UK economy around £30bn and is putting around 14,800 jobs at risk.
This project aims to create an infrastructure to enforce reliable tracking of electronic systems throughout its life cycle to mitigate against said attacks. This will be achieved by designing an unforgeable hardware root of trust that can be embedded in each computing device and developing appropriate defence mechanisms based on a trustworthy cryptographically secure tracking system.
Basel has vast experience of the implementation flow of IC, from concept to silicon, and has recently published a book in this area on the use of Physically Unclonable Functions (PUF) to produce trustworthy electronic systems. He has also designed a new module on secure hardware design to further promote this research area.
The RAEng Industrial Fellowships scheme has supported 58 researchers to complete placements with 53 industrial partners over the past five years.
Other engineering disciplines covered in this latest cohort include innovations in plastic waste recycling, carbon dioxide capture, bamboo-timber composite beams for buildings and 3D reconstructed human skin.