Electrical Engineering

1300 S. W. Mudd, MC 4712
Phone: 212-854-3105

Contemporary electrical engineering is a broad discipline that encompasses a wide range of activities. A common theme is the use of electrical and electromagnetic signals for the generation, transmission, processing, storage, conversion, and control of information and energy. An equally important aspect is the human interface and the role of individuals as the sources and recipients of information. The rates at which information is transmitted today range from megabits per second to gigabits per second and in some cases, as high as terabits per second. The range of frequencies over which these processes are studied extends from direct current (i.e., zero frequency), to microwave and optical frequencies.

The need for increasingly faster and more sophisticated methods of handling information poses a major challenge to the electrical engineer. New materials, devices, systems, and network concepts are needed to build the advanced communications and information handling systems of the future. Previous innovations in electrical engineering have had a dramatic impact on the way in which we work and live: the transistor, integrated circuits, computers, radio and television, satellite transmission systems, lasers, fiber optic transmission systems, and medical electronics.

The faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department at Columbia University is dedicated to the continued development of further innovations through its program of academic instruction and research. Our undergraduate academic program in electrical engineering is designed to prepare the student for a career in industry or business by providing her or him with a thorough foundation of the fundamental concepts and analytical tools of contemporary electrical engineering. A wide range of elective courses permits the student to emphasize specific disciplines such as telecommunications, microelectronics, digital systems, or photonics. Undergraduates have an opportunity to learn firsthand about current research activities by participating in a program of undergraduate research projects with the faculty.

A master’s level program in electrical engineering permits the graduate student to further specialize her/his knowledge and skills within a wide range of disciplines. For those who are interested in pursuing a career in teaching or research, our Ph.D. program offers the opportunity to conduct research under faculty supervision at the leading edge of technology and applied science. Research seminars are offered in a wide range of areas, including telecommunications, very large scale integrated circuits, photonics, and microelectronics.

The Electrical Engineering Department, along with the Computer Science Department, also offers B.S. and M.S. programs in computer engineering. Details on those programs can be found in the Computer Engineering section.

Research Activities

The research interests of the faculty encompass a number of rapidly growing areas, vital to the development of future technology, that will affect almost every aspect of society: communications and information processing; solid-state devices; ultrafast optics and photonics; microelectronic circuits, integrated systems and computer-aided design; systems biology; and electromagnetics and plasmas. Details on all of these areas can be found at ee.columbia.edu/research.

Communications research focuses on wireless communication, multimedia networking, real-time Internet, lightwave (fiber optic) communication networks, optical signal processing and switching, service architectures, network management and control, the processing of image and video information, and media engineering. Current studies include wireless and mobile computing environments, broadband kernels, object-oriented network management, real-time monitoring and control, lightwave network architectures, lightweight protocol design, resource allocation and networking games, real-time Internet services, future all-digital HDTV systems, coding and modulation.

Solid-state device research is conducted in the Columbia Microelectronics Sciences Laboratories. This is an interdisciplinary facility, involving aspects of electrical engineering and applied physics. It includes the study of semiconductor physics and devices, optical electronics, and quantum optics. The emphasis is on laser processing and diagnostics for submicron electronics, fabrication of compound semiconductor optoelectronic devices by molecular beam epitaxy, physics of superlattices and quantum wells, and interface devices such as Schottky barriers, MOS transistors, heterojunctions, and bipolar transistors. Another area of activity is the physics and chemistry of microelectronics packaging.

Research in photonics includes development of semi conductor light sources such as LEDs and injection lasers, fabrication and analysis of quantum confined structures, photo conductors, pin diodes, avalanche photodiodes, optical interconnects, and quantum optics. A major effort is the picosecond optoelectronics program, focusing on the development of new devices and their applications to high-speed optoelectronic measurement systems, photonic switching, and optical logic. In addition, research is being performed in detection techniques for optical communications and radar. Members of the photonics group play a leading role in a multi-university consortium: The National Center for Integrated Photonics Technology.

Integrated systems research involves the analysis and design of analog, digital, and mixed-signal microelectronic circuits and systems. These include novel signal processors and related systems, data converters, radio frequency circuits, low noise and low power circuits, and fully integrated analog filters that share the same chip with digital logic. VLSI architectures for parallel computation, packet switching, and signal processing are also under investigation. Computer-aided design research involves the development of techniques for the analysis and design of large-scale integrated circuits and systems.

Electromagnetics research ranges from the classical domains of microwave generation and transmission and wave propagation in various media to modern applications involving lasers, optical fibers, plasmas, and solid-state devices. Problems relevant to controlled thermo-nuclear fusion are under investigation.

Laboratory Facilities

Current research activities are fully supported by more than a dozen well-equipped research laboratories run by the department. Specifically, laboratory research is conducted in the following laboratories: Multimedia Networking Laboratory, Lightwave Communications Laboratory, Systems Laboratory, Image and Advanced Television Laboratory, Laser Processing Laboratory, Molecular Beam Epitaxy Laboratory, Surface Analysis Laboratory, Microelectronics Fabrication Laboratory, Device Measurement Laboratory, Ultrafast Optoelectronics Laboratory, Columbia Integrated Systems Laboratory (CISL), Lightwave Communications Laboratory, Photonics Laboratory, Plasma Physics Laboratory (in conjunction with the Department of Applied Physics).

Laboratory instruction is provided in a suite of newly-renovated facilities on the twelfth floor of the S. W. Mudd Building. These teaching laboratories are used for circuit prototyping, device measurement, VLSI design, embedded systems design, and IoT experiments.