THE CONVERGENCE LAB INITIATIVE PROGRAM
Convergence of Artificial Intelligence, Neuromorphic computing, Quantum, Photonics, microelectronics and Arts will drive EOIR, RF and Cyber components and imaging to its maximum potential. The figure below illustrates the five pillars of the proposed VCU center that is supported with modeling and simulation capability. The central idea is to work at the intersection of five convergent science elements and drive "Convergence" to innovate technology and develop workforce in the key Department of Defense derivative areas of EOIR, RF and Cyber.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) have captured the imagination of people in every facet of life. AI at various level of maturity, is being applied to a multitude of applications in various industries such as banking, social media, marketing, surveillance, security, transportation, agriculture, industrial testing, manufacturing, robotics, military and medical to name a few. Quantum and neuromorphic are emerging sciences that will offer significant boon to EOIR/RF technologies in terms of functionality, embedded intelligence and reducing technical noise beyond fundamental limits. Further, with the advent of low-cost imaging in visible domain, advances in machine learning and high-performance computing, we are now witnessing a wide range of novel applications that are based on intelligent vision. These advances are also possible in infrared imaging domain. In addition, the use of Arts and microelectronics in infrared sciences can offer a gateway to understanding perception, a holy grail in imaging sciences.
IR technology and its applications in bio-medical and medicine will revolutionize the health care system. Infrared technology with data fusion will not only help decision making but will also make significant impact in a multitude of applications that will benefit mankind. However, most of these imaging advancements are in the CMOS based visible technology. The technology trend clearly indicates that the imaging devices of diverse kind will be a key part of the intelligent era, hence advances in IR is imperative. Imaging components will evolve from simple transduction devices (camera) to more towards cognitive and decision aid devices with intelligent machine learning capability. Imaging will not only provide scene images and videos but also be able to provide salient descriptors and information for automation and better decision making. The proposed center will be unique because it will drive technologies beyond visible CMOS image sensors. It will focus on infrared imaging domain to see the invisible, and demonstrate data to decision capabilities.
Microelectronics is now being recognized as the most important element for our nation's technological infrastructure and value chain. The attention from Congress attests to this fact (CHIPS ACT). The following is the report from the Undersecretary of Defense (February 2022) - "Microelectronics are circuits and components that serve as the 'brain' to human-made electronic functional systems. Virtually every military and commercial system relies on microelectronics. Diminishing microelectronics manufacturing in the United States and supply chain concerns have highlighted national economic and security risks. Working closely with industry, academia, and across the Government, the Department is addressing the need for secure microelectronics sources and will leverage state-of-the-art commercial development and production for defense microelectronic solutions.While microelectronics is important, the need for qualified workforce in this area is also very essential. VCU through this proposed center will create an educational, workforce and R&D program to surface new microelectronics capabilities and future talents. The Virginia Microelectronics Center at VCU has the necessary infrastructure to conduct new line of efforts for microelectronics research.
Biomedical technology will revolutionize health care in the nation. The combination of microelectronics, infrared and AI/neuromorphic along with other science areas, biomedical can change the health care system. New tools to self-diagnosis capability can help early detection of diseases and prevention. CLI research areas will include such endeavors. In addition, VCU is the lead for central node in the Commonwealth Cyber Initiatives (CCI). Through a multimillion-dollar investment from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the CCI seeks to elevate the state-wide ecosystem of innovation and excellence in cyber physical systems with an emphasis on trust and security and to further secure Virginia's role as a global leader in secure cyber physical systems. The initiative currently supports world-class research at the intersection of AI, 5G and beyond, and security; promotes technology commercialization and entrepreneurship; and prepares future generations of innovators and research leaders.
Enable intelligent imaging, systems and communication capabilities as a decision support tool.
The VCU CLI mission will be to provide leap ahead EOIR/RF/Cyber solutions to challenging national problems in sea, land, air, space, and cyber domains through basic and applied research, education, training, testing & prototyping, as well as demonstration and fielding of technologies. The R&D will also have a concerted line of effort to drive EOIR, RF and Cyber Security technologies for commercial applications that includes medical, smart city & other cyber physical systems, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, and many other applications including automation. The VCU CLI center will be the leader in EOIR/RF/Cyber technologies and applications in defense and commercial domains, with expertise covering infrared and RF components and sensor systems, intelligent algorithms, information processing, test & evaluation, modeling and simulation for data to decision across the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Drive innovation through research, development and experiential learning to educate future generation scientist, engineers and technicians in the combined areas of electro-optics, infrared, radio frequency and cyber security
- Focused research in data to decision and decision aid capabilities
- Strategic workforce development to support & help maintain future needs of the department of defense and the defense industrial complex
- Apply innovation in the commercial sectors & spinoffs
- Ensure multidisciplinary collaboration & diversity, inclusion and equity
- Create a robust full value-chain ecosystem