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January 10, 2002

Pitt research helping to develop CAD tools

A new research effort to develop the next generation of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools — incorporating electronic circuitry, photonics and micromechanical components on the same chip — is underway at Pitt.

The program is supported by a $2 million grant from the Micro-Systems Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and a $630,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Under the direction of Steven P. Levitan, the John A. Jurenko Professor of Computer Engineering and professor of electrical engineering, and Donald M. Chiarulli, professor of computer science and computer engineering, the program will develop new software tools and design methods, including models for micro-optics and micromechanical devices, as well as a system-level technique for fast-turnaround modeling of end-to-end system behavior.

Examples of these systems already are emerging in applications ranging from high-performance displays to fiber-optic network switches. One of the most common examples of the technology currently in use is accelerometer sensors that control air bag deployment in automobiles.

"This grant will enable us to develop new software tools and design methods for microdevices that go beyond traditional digital integrated circuits," said Levitan. "Rather, these microdevices contain electronics, optics and mechanical components in the same chip. In the past, these designs took specialized tools for optical design, mechanical design and electronics. The challenge is to integrate all these skills into one software package."

In addition to Chiarulli and Levitan, the project includes researchers at the University of Delaware, the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md., and three industrial partners: Science Applications International Corporation of McLean, Va.; Coventor Inc., in Cary, N.C.; and EM Photonics, of Newark, Del.

Working with Levitan and Chiarulli at Pitt are Mark Kahrs, visiting associate professor of electrical engineering; David Evans, research associate in computer science, and electrical and computer engineering doctoral and undergraduate students.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 34 Issue 9

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