As electronic devices combine more functions into a single product, the demand for efficient microelectronic systems is increasing. One of the most important requirements for enhancing efficiency in micro-scale technology is maintaining the strength of the signal as it travels through the complex circuitry. Electrical engineer Dr. Natalie Nakhla has developed tools that improve the integrity of signals in high-speed microelectronic systems and provide a rate of design efficiency that is thousands of times faster than existing techniques.
Nakhla’s research focuses on developing efficient tools for the simulation and design of large-scale, high-speed and mixed-signal (analogue and digital circuits on the same semiconductor) electronic circuits. When a signal travels along these circuits, the high-speed interconnects can lead to signal degradations such as delay and distortion. Nakhla has devised novel algorithms that allow designers to predict these effects in simulation and optimize high-speed circuits that are larger and faster than what is currently feasible. For instance, one of Nakhla’s algorithms reduced the processing time required to simulate a 64-bit data transfer rate—the kind used by large research institutions to perform massive, complex calculations—from 40 hours to less than 10 minutes.
Due to the accuracy of her techniques, Nakhla’s discoveries have provided microsystem designers with the tools they need to develop higher-quality products with a shorter design cycle. Her research will have a significant impact on the development of future high-speed microelectronic systems. Two of her algorithms have already been adopted by IBM, and she is currently working with several other industrial organizations that will further adopt her methodology.