Yanghyo “Rod” Kim, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Compter Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, recently received an award of $999,699 from the Department of Defense (DoD) for his project “Energy-Efficient Millimeter-Wave Dielectric Fibers and Wireless Interconnects for Space Missions.”
Interconnect technologies including electrical connectors and wiring harnesses play a central role in advancing the DoD’s new system platforms such as small unmanned aerial vehicles and earth-orbiting satellites. Connectors and interconnects for DoD applications must provide bandwidth scalability and often withstand extreme temperature variations. Other critical mission requirements include temperature tolerance, payload (size and weight), and long-term reliability. Optical interconnects are lightweight and highly bandwidth scalable. However, their space-qualified assembly process is complicated, expensive, and sensitive to temperature variations necessitating additional thermal management units. To continue advancing the DoD’s missions, these technical interconnect challenges need to be addressed.
Kim’s research aims to remove traditional electrical connectors (such as USB) by engaging electronic subsystems wirelessly. Unlike mechanical connectors that are physically rigid and exposed to environmental hazards, his proposed wireless connectors will offer much greater tolerance to vibration, alignment, and signal integrity issues. He also envisions sending high-capacity digital information via commonly used plastic tubes (like plastic straws to drink water) by transmitting electromagnetic waves.
“I’m looking forward to exploring high-risk, high-reward ideas through this opportunity,” said Kim.