Research on optical data transmission earns best paper award

Pradip Mandal (above) and Saurav Bandyopadhyay (below) came to UCSC from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur to work with Kenneth Pedrotti.

A research project that grew out of an international exchange program at UCSC's Baskin School of Engineering won the Best Paper Award at a recent conference. Kenneth Pedrotti, associate professor of electrical engineering, was a coauthor of the paper, which was presented at the 2008 International Conference on VLSI Design in January in Hyderabad, India.

The paper describes the development of an electronic receiver for use in a low-cost optical communication system. The research is part of an effort in Pedrotti's lab, supported in part by National Semiconductor, to investigate low-cost approaches to achieve high-speed data transport over short distances. Currently, optical data transmission (using fiber optics) is used primarily for long-distance communication, such as the telephone network and Internet backbone. Pedrotti's research is aimed at lowering the cost of the components of optical systems so that they can be used in other applications in place of copper cables.

The first author of the paper, Saurav Bandyopadhyay, is a student at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur. He began the project in 2006 when he came to UCSC to study in Pedrotti's research group. Coauthor Pradip Mandal, an engineering professor at IIT Kharagpur, has also visited UCSC over the past two years as part of the exchange program. Stephen Ralph of the Georgia Institute of Technology is also a coauthor.

"We have been developing relationships with top universities overseas, and for the past several years have sponsored students and professors from IIT Kharagpur to come and study in our group," Pedrotti said. "The program helps us attract top students from around the world."

Bijoy Chatterjee, director of virtual laboratories at National Semiconductor, was instrumental in making connections between UCSC and research groups at IIT Kharagpur. Chatterjee has been a strong supporter of the Baskin School of Engineering and serves on the advisory board for the Department of Computer Engineering.