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Texas ECE Team Wins Synopsys Optical Design Competition Award

Texas ECE Team Wins Synopsys Optical Design Competition Award

(pictured l-r Chenghao Feng, Hanqing Zhu, and Jiaqi Gu)

A team of PhD students from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has been recognized with a 2022 Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition award. The annual competition celebrates exceptional research projects designed by college students in North America using Synopsys Optical Solutions software. The winning team of Chenghao Feng, Jiaqi Gu, and Hanqing Zhu are all PhD candidates in Texas ECE co-supervised by Dr. Ray Chen and Dr. David Z. Pan.

The team received an award for their project titled, “A compact 4×4 butterfly-style silicon photonic-electronic neural chip for hardware-efficient deep learning.” They used Synopsys Photonic Solutions software to design a chip that supports an optical neural network for next-generation neurocomputing.

The team and work was part of the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Center for Energy-efficient Optical Interconnects and Computing sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).

“We devised a hardware-efficient butterfly-style photonic-electronic neural chip to implement deep learning tasks,” said Feng. “I want to thank Synopsys for providing a convenient and efficient integrated photonic design and layout tool. I look forward to new tools and features that can further improve the productivity of photonic integrated circuit engineers and researchers. I also thank Professors Ray T. Chen and David Z. Pan for supervising and supporting our team.”

“I am glad that our project was appreciated by the judging committee,” said Gu. “I feel honored that our team received an award as part of the Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition.”

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Zhu. “In the post-Moore era, using Synopsys photonic solutions enabled us to investigate how to use light to accelerate AI workloads. I would like to thank Synopsys for the opportunity to share our work with others, and I am very thankful for all the hard work done by my teammates.”

The annual Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition recognizes excellence in student optical design projects. The competition was established in 2000 by Optical Research Associates (ORA®), now the Synopsys Optical Solutions Group, and in 2009 was named in honor of ORA’s former president and chief executive officer, Robert S. Hilbert. To participate, students in North America can enter an optical design class assignment or thesis work that uses Synopsys optical design software.