PhD vacancy in design of next-generation WiFi chip

(19-11-2021)

Job description

IMEC

imec is the world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, and energy.

As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together close to 3,500 brilliant minds from over 70 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and also has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. All of these particular traits make imec to be a top-class employer.

Ghent University – imec IDLab Research group

The Internet & Data Lab (IDLab) is an imec research group at Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. IDLab focuses its research on internet technologies and data science. IDLab is a joint research initiative between Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. Bringing together more than 300 internet experts, we develop technologies outperforming current solutions for communication subsystems, high speed and low power networking, distributed computing and multimedia processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and web semantics. IDLab has a unique research infrastructure used in numerous national and international collaborations.

IDLab collaborates with many universities and research centers worldwide and jointly develops advanced technologies with industry (R&D centers from international companies, Flanders’ top innovating large companies and SMEs, as well as numerous ambitious startups).

The IDLab wireless team at Ghent University consists of more than 30 researchers and has gained profound scientific expertise and knowledge on wireless networking with a prime focus on end-to-end connectivity solutions covering all layers in the end-to-end protocol stack. For further development of the IDLab wireless research team in Ghent, we are looking for a PhD candidate in the domain of advanced WiFi-based wireless systems.

Context

Digital communication plays a pivotal role in professional environments, supporting both persons, machines and things to interact with each other over a communication network. In professional environments, such as industry automation (industry 4.0), communication becomes increasingly diverse, more reliable, time-critical and subject to change over time. For purposes such as mobility, flexibility or cost, wireless connectivity – in various forms, from sensor networks to high capacity networks - has become an integral part of professional networking environments.

Extrapolating these trends of how professional applications will evolve over the next 10 years, we want to advance wireless communications to the next level on these aspects: end-to-end latency, time synchronization accuracy among distributed applications across diverse network segments, reliability/QoS for high-priority and safety-critical traffic.

Today, we are far from achieving that vision, as most research is limited to theoretical or simulation studies, ignoring real-world impairments which is hindering uptake of wireless innovations in real-world application scenarios. Some examples of impairments are: non-ideal RF hardware, complex and dynamic wireless channels, limited digital processing capabilities in terms of clock-speed and footprint), quantisation errors due to conversion from floating to fixed point, etc. 

Going from theory and simulation to experimentation is a huge step. Two options, software defined radio or commercial radio chips, both have their limitations.  Software defined radio with PHY functionality implemented in software and controlled by a host PC, do not allow real-time operation needed to support real-world low-latency uses cases that require fast response times. Commercial radio chips are blackboxes with closed firmware and drivers and restrict innovation and experimentation to the higher-layer networking functionality above firmware and driver. Therefore, significant research efforts are required to open up and advance chip design by tackling many challenges: 

  • High-efficient design of advanced features in upcoming WiFi standards (OFDMA, MIMO, TWT...) optimising power performance and footprint
  • Accurate sub us-level time and RF carrier synchronisation 
  • Software-hardware co-design achieving true real-time operation for time-critical applications serving a massive number of users/machines with diverse/guaranteed QoS, targeting end-to-end KPIs (between end-to-end applications); 
  • Small scale end-to-end proof-of-concept validation in the field
  • Cost and energy efficient solutions allowing large-scale deployment.

This PhD vacancy targets to address these challenges, delivering solutions of the advanced WiFi chip for professional end-to-end communication networks that stand out in fulfilling, guaranteeing the challenging requirements of ultra-reliable and time-and-safety-critical applications running on top.

Job requirements

  • You have (or will receive within a few months) a Masters degree from a university, preferably in Electronics Engineering, Communications Engineering, Computer Science, Microelectronics, or equivalent.
  • You are interested to do research and hands on development in the field of WiFi chip design for a 4 years period in view of a PhD degree.
  • You have a keen interest in developing novel signal processing algorithms, wireless communication protocols in general, and wireless communication physical layer, MAC layer in FPGA/chip in particular.
  • You have experience with FPGA design and prototyping. Hands-on experience with Verilog/VHDL or other HDL implementation of signal processing and/or low level MAC is a must. In-depth knowledge on RF (Radio Frequency), antenna, and communication standards (WiFi/LTE/5G/etc.) is an extra asset.
  • Having published in high-ranking conferences and journals in the field is an advantage.
  • You are well-organized and able to autonomously plan and execute tasks.
  • You have strong analytical skills to interpret the obtained research results.
  • You are a team player and have strong communication skills.
  • Your English is fluent, both in speaking and writing.

The job

  • Under the supervision of prof. Ingrid Moerman, you prepare a PhD dissertation on implementation of advanced WiFi chips for professional applications: end-to-end oriented efficient software-hardware co-design towards reliable and low-latency solutions in professional environments.
  • You publish and present results both at international conferences and in scientific journals.
  • You will combine theoretical design with experimental proof-of-concept validation by setting up prototyping environments in our test lab considering concrete professional use cases (industry 4.0, mission-critical applications, etc.)
  • You become a member of the Software Defined Radio team doing research based on IDLab’s openwifi platform (https://github.com/open-sdr/openwifi)
  • You will participate in the framework of national and European research projects, and collaborate on a technical level with research partners from industry
  • You will assist in limited educational tasks of the research group

Our offer

  • We offer a full-time position as a Ph.D. scholarship recipient, consisting of an initial period of 12 months, which –upon positive evaluation– will be extended to a maximum of 4 years
  • We offer a dynamic and international work environment with a competitive salary and ample training and self-development opportunities.
    The PhD position is available starting 2022

Interested?

For further information, please contact Ingrid Moerman - ingrid.moerman@ugent.be 

How to Apply?

Please apply via: https://jobs.idlab.uantwerpen.be/o/phd-vacancy-in-design-of-nextgeneration-wifi-chip/c/new

. Your application should include the following documents: 

  • Motivation letter
  • CV, including diploma and transcript of records (bachelor and master) and contact information of 3 reference persons.