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NDSU project may revolutionize smartphone technology

NDSU researchers suggest a new smart phone project may spark an economic boom in the region. The project, "Tunable Power Amplifier for Smart Phones," has received $100,000 in funding from the North Dakota Department of Commerce for phase one of the project. 

"This research will have tremendous impact on North Dakota’s economy in the high tech sector, potentially leading to the next 'Silicon Valley' in the northern Midwest," said Debasis Dawn, NDSU assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, who will be the principal investigator for the project. "If successful, this technology will revolutionize current smart phone electronics."

The yearlong first phase of Dawn's research is expected to begin in January. Two graduate students, who will be trained for design or test engineering jobs, will assist him with the work. Dawn's lab has a total of five student employees.

According to Dawn, International Business Strategies Inc. recently projected the market for power amplifiers for smart phones will exceed $12 billion during the next five years, and 50 percent of that total will be for silicon-based amplifiers.

Dawn's aim is to develop a silicon-based power amplifier. The NDSU researchers believe they can reduce the size of the circuitry by half, while increasing "talk time" by 50 percent.

"Overall, this project will help to grow and diversify the North Dakota economy in the high tech sector," Dawn explained. "A new research and development center will create jobs for engineers and other staff members during commercialization of this power amplifier for smartphones."

Phase two of the research project will require matching funds from private industry. Dawn is hopeful his initial work will attract interest and support from a high technology or communication company.

Dawn joined the NDSU faculty in 2012. He has more than a decade of industry experience, with expertise in the area of developing wireless integrated circuits using compound semiconductors and silicon. His integrated circuits developed at Fujitsu were commercialized and used in automotive radar of Toyota vehicles. His projects at SONY were used in PlayStation units.

Before joining NDSU, he was a research engineer at the Georgia Electronic Design Center and adjunct faculty at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. Dawn has published more than 50 papers in international journals and conferences and holds two U.S. patents.

The project's grant number is FAR0025243.

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