University of Southern California The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering Microwave Systems, Sensors and Imaging Lab

Facilities and Other Resources

MiXIL’s new laboratory at the University of Southern California (USC) Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering – Electrophysics (EEP), Microwave Systems, Sensors, and Imaging Lab (MiXIL) contains state-of-the-art Microwave measurement and test equipment, an array of internal custom-built and commercial software tools, various. Below gives an overview of Facilities, Equipment, and other resources.

Microwave Systems, Sensors, and Imaging Lab (MiXIL)

MiXIL is an academic research unit in the Ming Hsieh department of Electrical Engineering – Electrophysics (EE-EP) recently constructed (completed May 2012) and headed by Moghaddam. The group performs research in a wide range of topics in electromagnetics including scattering, inverse scattering, microwave remote sensing, antennas, computational electromagnetics, microwave circuits, medical imaging and therapy systems, and wireless sensor networks. MiXIL occupies a dedicated lab space of approximately 2000 ft2 housing microwave test equipment, radar instrumentation, focused microwave heating and therapy systems, near-field measurement facilities, wireless sensor network instrumentation, and backscattering and bistatic scattering measurements.

  • For theoretical and computational developments, MiXIL is equipped with an array of computational environment and electromagnetic and multiphysics modeling tools (such as Ansoft HFSS, COMSOL) to support the proposed theoretical simulation tasks. A dedicated research facility for microwave and ultrasound signal and image analysis within MiXIL is equipped with a cluster of Linux computers (144 processors). These and other computational resources within the lab are supported by various data storage devices, commercial image- and data-processing software, and other specialized software packages for the geometric and radiometric processing and analysis of radio frequency (RF) data. In addition to these dedicated resources, the USC Viterbi College of Engineering Center for High-Performance Computing and Communication (HPCC - http://www.usc.edu/hpcc/systems/) is equipped with 785 Sun Microsystems Linux nodes (more than 14,000 CPUs) and is available for shared use.
  • Pulse-echo measurements for imaging applications are enabled by custom-built free-space and liquid emulsion transmit-receive bistatic measurement systems operating in the 900MHz – 4 GHz range, and a three-frequency VHF/UHF/L-band (100MHz – 1 GHz) polarimetric, pulsed-CW radar (Figure 1).
  • For focused microwave heating therapy, the lab is currently equipped with a ring array of antennas driven by a high-power amplifier bank and switch network (Figure 2). This ring array has been used to show a proof-of-concept (a 2D slice demonstration) for heat therapy and is planned for transition to a fully 3D array for demonstration of the combined microwave and ultrasound therapy system under the project proposed here.
  • Circuit Design is accomplished by use of a suite of commercial and in-house codes. The circuit design activities will take advantage of the Lab’s cluster with high speed UNIX based workstations. Commercially available software packages such as Libra, HFSS, Sonnet and IE3D, are used for circuit simulation. For layout design, software tools such as Mentor Graphics' IC Station and AutoCAD, as well as CadSoft EAGLE are available.
  • Circuit Measurements are performed by a number of dedicated vector network and signal analyzers used to measure circuits in the desired frequency range. The lab includes two network analyzers, spectrum analyzers, synthesized sweepers and sources covering 0.01-24 GHz, power meter and the necessary supporting electronics such as power supplies, low frequency generators and oscilloscopes (digital and sampling scopes). Equipment for mixer and amplifier measurements is available as well.
  • Antenna Pattern Measurements can be performed at the existing Ultra-wideband Radio Laboratory (UltRa Lab) 30-ft anechoic chamber and Paul G. Allen Wireless Test Facility. These are within the EE-EP department and may be shared with MiXIL. This facility additionally includes a wide array of RF equipment (such as fast sampling scopes, signal sources, spectrum analyzers, network analyzers).
  • For customized machine work related to fabricating antenna array housing and other mechanical structures, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering has a fully equipped machine shop and 3 full-time experience staff. The machine shop has CNC mills and lathes and keeps a basic supply of metals and plastics. Additionally, there is an SLA High-Precision Fast Prototyping Machine.
a)   b)

Figure 1. Bistatic imaging system a) freespace example b) prototype – interior is filled with biological matching medium prior to inserting target to be imaged

Figure 2. Antenna and amplifier array for 2D ablation therapy system.