Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Young Scholar TechTalk – Chip-scale Sensing: From Classical to Quantum Regime

Miniature optoelectronic sensors which have features of convenient, reliable, economic, ultra sensitive, and capable of real-time measurement are highly desirable nowadays. However, currently reported optical and electronic sensing devices are still hindered with complex optical components and bulky equipment. Hence, we hope to further minimize the volume of the sensing system and get rid of the dependence on complex, expensive and bulky sensing components. In particular, we demonstrate a micro-scale III-nitride chip that integrates a light emitter (LED) and a photodetector (PD) together, realizing the emission and detection of signals in a single miniature chip. Thus, we have applied the device into some classical sensing, such as pressure, salinity content and cell activities sensing. Additionally, we also conduct integration on the diamond based quantum sensing system, and demonstrate a compact chip architecture (sub ~mm3 volume) being capable of on-chip quantum sensing.

TechTalk – Robotics and AI for Real-world Challenges

Current AI cannot provide a complete solution for robotics, although AI is a useful tool for real-world challenges that cannot be solved by traditional methods. We will discuss how AI can be applied to solve real-world problems using robotic systems developed by our team so far. Inspired by a dance partner robot developed for the Aichi Expo in 2005, a co-worker robot “PaDY” was developed for the automotive assembly process. Intention estimation was a key to these collaborative robots. AI has also led to the development of robotic applications in manufacturing, such as computer vision for bin picking, grasp planning, robot motion planning, and assembly of textureless industrial parts using visual servoing. Recent advances in AI are making it possible to tackle the manipulation of soft materials. The JC STEM Lab of Robotics for Soft Materials funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust covers this new field.

TechTalk – IoT and Machine Learning for Smart Water Auditing

The Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) is the combination of Artificial intelligence (AI) with the Internet of things (IoT) to enable autonomous decision-making, data analytics, and system optimization. AIoT for smart cities allows the collection of enormous sensor data for a better understanding of the environment, human behaviors, and city operations, which leads to more efficient resource management and promotes a sustainable and healthier society. The Smart Water Auditing project aims to use IoT and machine learning to provide insights into how water is being used in the households of Hong Kong to reduce the consumption of water and raise awareness of people’s water consumption habits. Our talk will present our design workflow, IoT infrastructures, machine learning algorithms, and experimentation for water end-use disaggregation in Hong Kong.

TechTalk – Defect Tolerant Brain-inspired Computing with Memristors

Human brain can perform many tasks much better than classical electronic computers, such as face recognition, reasoning based on vague information, and learning from experience, to name a few. Recently, brain-inspired algorithms have promoted in the rapid development of artificial intelligence, however, they cannot work well in classical computers. In this talk, Dr. Can Li will present his recent works on building brain-inspired computers to fit better with brain-inspired algorithms. Those computers are based on an emerging nanoelectronics device – a memristor – which can store information and compute simultaneously, similar to synapses and neurons in our brain. The built hardware can function similar to human brains, for example, it can tolerate hardware defects, make full use of the nonlinearity of devices, learn from rare samples, and so on.

TechTalk – A Simple Way of Doing Machine Learning, without Learning

Machine learning and deep neural networks have revolutionized various fields, most obvious examples are computer vision and natural language processing. Apart from the surging sizes of sophisticated models, an emerging trend is to go down the opposite route of deploying lightweight models on the edge (terminal or user end) for relatively simple AI tasks. This is named edge AI which is often constrained to run under restrictive compute and storage resources. In this talk, we will explore the latest theory in neural network modeling that allows the total avoidance of AI training that used to be slow, daunting or even impossible for the edge. Specifically, we will scratch the surface of the neural tangent kernel, and try to establish (well…. qualitatively) the equivalence of data and network, such that once the data are ready, the network is instantly ready, too.

Tech Talk – Seeing the unseen in biomedicine with laser

In the past 10+ years, laser microscopy has successfully made it permeated not only in biochemistry and cell/molecular biology research, but also in numerous preclinical and clinical applications. However, our understanding of health and disease is still very limited. This lecture will introduce the latest breakthrough in laser microscopy technologies developed at HKU that can address some of these challenges. Especially these technologies can generate unprecedented views and understanding of the living biological cells. They include: capturing high-resolution motion picture of the swift-flying brain signals in a living animal; visualizing the inner workings of biological cells and organisms in 3D without killing them; and detecting rare cancer cells in millions of blood cells. Not only can these technologies impact new biological discovery (e.g. neuroscience), but also creating many new opportunities in cost-effective clinical diagnosis, especially cancer screening.

Tech Talk – The infini love diamond with a massive future in science

The diamond has been well known as the gem stones in jewellery market, and the same material with various atomic defects, i.e., fluorescent impurities in diamond lattice, shows unique quantum behaviors even at ambient conditions. A diamond, not just a best friend of ladies, but also the best friend of scientists. Due to their unique quantum properties, these atomic defects has been demonstrated to achieve nanometric measurement of various physical quantities such as electromagnetic fields, temperature and etc. with unprecedented precision. Here, I will firstly review the development of diamond-based science and technology, and discuss its potential applications in diverse fields. Specifically, I will introduce the on-going research activities in my group, mainly including the high figure-of-merit diamond materials synthesis, advanced quantum diamond microscope development and diamond quantum sensing in single living cells. In addition, I will also share my journey in exploring beyond academics, e.g., we apply quantum diamond microscope for authenticity identification in local jewellery industry.

Tech Talk – Engineering of quantum nanodiamonds

Diamond, the most famed of all gemstones, is unique in many ways. However, beyond the sparkle, diamonds have many unique properties for copious applications. In particular, nanoscale diamond particles, generally known as nanodiamonds (NDs), have several outstanding material qualities, offering a wide range of potential for basic science and industrial applications. The practical applications of the quantum NDs are highly dependent on obtaining a well-defined surface through cleaning. Here, this talk will first present a simple, reliable, and reproducible purification method, namely, the salt-assisted air oxidation treatment, which enables scale-up manufacturing of clean NDs. At the same time, it is discovered that NDs could work as an effective agent against oral infections. These findings will significantly enhance the scope of these little gemstones in diverse scientific and industrial fields, particularly in demanding areas such as biomedical and quantum sensing.

Inaugural Tech Talk – DIGITIZATION

The Managing Directors of two Health@InnoHK and AIR@InnoHK projects at the Faculty of Engineering, Professor Anderson Shum and Professor Norman C. Tien gave the Inaugural Tech Talk with the theme “Digitization” and introduced insightful research projects and their future development plan.