3D Printed Circuits and Electromagnetic Devices


The EM Lab is developing some of the most ambitious and revolutionary technologies happening today using the latest hybrid 3D printing techniques. We were the first to automate hybrid direct-write 3D printing that gives us the unique capability to make very complicated metallo-dielectric structures. We used this to demonstrate the first true 3D/volumetric circuit where components can be located at any position (x,y,z) and be oriented at any angle (theta,phi) throughout all three dimensions and the traces meander smoothly through the circuit following splines. Hybrid 3D printing enables us to produce systems with electromechanical functionality, manufacture systems with complex form factors, fit more functions into a smaller amount of space, embed electrical functionality into structural members with near zero added size and weight, incorporate volumetically complex structures that improve electromagnetic compatibitliy, and more. Devices include antennas, sensors, frequency selective surfaces, transmission lines, metamaterials, circuits, and others.

We have recently invented and patented a technique to electromagnetically decouple components that are placed in very close proximity using spatially-variant anisotropic metamaterials (SVAMs). We have demonstrated this technology in a 3D printed mobile phone and showed dramatic improvement in the performance of two closely spaced antennas. The envelope correlation coefficient (ECC) was reduced from 0.65 to 0.018 with the application of our SVAMs.

Devices for Extreme Environments


We have demonstrated the world's highest power frequency selective surfaces operating well in excess of 2.0 GW. These same devices also broke records for bandwidth and field-of-view. Our first generation of devices used traditional manufacturing, but our next generation use 3D printing and are providing greatly enhanced performance.

Spatially-Variant Metamaterials, Metasurfaces, and Photonic Crystals


3D printing is extraordinarily capable of producing parts with extreme complexity. To take advantage of this, we developed a novel algorithm to spatially vary and functionally grade all of the attributes of a periodic structure independently and simultaneously while still rendering the overall lattice smooth and continuous. Attributes include unit cell orientation, lattice spacing, fill fraction, geometry, material composition, and more. The algorithm can "bend" a lattice with almost no deformations to the size and shape of the unit cells. Applications include putting periodic structures onto curved surfaces, bending metamaterials and photonic crystals, exploiting directional phenomena, and more.

Computational Electromagnetics, Optimization, and High Performance Computing

When developing radically new device concepts, commerical software often cannot solve Maxwell's equations in the ways that we need. For certain classes of structures, they can also fail to converge properly. We maintain a comprehensive suite of custom modeling and optimization codes that execute faster and incorporate more physics than most commerical software. We offer world class capabilities for simulating all-dielectric structures. We are always developing new tools and working to implement our unique set of algorithms on scalable high performance computers.

Diffractive Optics, Nanophotonics, and Computational Lithography


Very often, concepts from optics can be applied at radio frequencies and concepts from radio frequencies can be applied to optics. The EM Lab is active in many areas of photonics including integrated optics, gratings, thin-films, guided-mode resonance devices, waveguides, grating couplers, photonic crystals, and more. Work also includes computational lithography where we model micro and nano fabrication processes to predict the geometry of nanoscale devices more accurately.

In collaboration with the University of Central Florida, we have recently demonstrated the world's tightest bend of an unguided optical beam. We are applying this technology for chip-to-chip optical interconnects in high speed digital systems.


Design and Simulation

The EM Lab offers extraordinary modeling and simulation capabilities including world-class deisgn and analysis of dielectric structures, spatially-variant lattices, photonic crystals, metamaterials, and transformation optics.

Primary Electromagnetic Simulation Software Computer Aided Design (CAD) Custom Electromagnetic Tools Custom Optimization and Geometry Generation Tools
  • Synthesis of Spatially-Variant Lattices
    • Attributes that can be spatially varied: unit cell orientation, lattice spacing, fill fraction, material composition, lattice symmetry, and pattern within the unit cell.
    • Output: STL files
  • Transformation Optics (TO)
  • Fast Marching Method (FMM)
  • Level Set Methods (LSM)
  • Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO)
  • Genetic Algorithms (GA)
Computer Resources
  • Dell Precision Workstation T7600, 16 cores, 196 Gb RAM
  • Dell Precision Workstation T7500, 12 cores, 96 Gb RAM, 6 Gb Tesla GPU
  • Dell Precision Workstation T7500, 8 cores, 96 Gb RAM, 6 Gb Tesla GPU
  • Four Dell Precision T5810 Workstations, 6 cores Xeon 3.5 GHz, 32 Gb RAM
  • Dell Precision Workstation T3610, 12 cores, 16 Gb RAM
  • More than a dozen dual-monitor workstations for students
  • Dedicated EM Lab BLADE Cluster
    • Five Machines: 32 Gb RAM, 12-core Xeon
  • UTEP Clusters

3D Printing and Manufacturing

The EM Lab is uniquely equipped for 3D printing of digital and high-frequency circuits. This requires higher precision, finer resolution, better surface finish, and the ability to build structures composed of multiple materials.

EM Lab Manufacturing Capabilities
  • nScrypt 3Dn Hybrid 3D Printer
    • nScrypt Fused Deposition (nFD)
    • nScrypt Micro-Dispensing
    • 200 W pulsed CO2 laser for trimming, cutting, and drilling
    • 200 W CW CO2 laser for curing and sintering
    • All above capabilities available simultaneously
    • Part resolution: < 50 micrometers
    • Build volume: 15 L x 10 W x 10 H cm
  • Ultimaker 3 3D Printer
    • Dual nozzle FDM
    • Heated glass bed (max 100 ℃)
    • Resolution: 12.5 microns XY and 2.5 microns Z
    • Build volume: 21.5 L x 21.5 W x 20 H cm (single nozzle)
    • Build volume: 19.7 L x 21.5 W x 20 H cm (dual nozzle)
  • MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D Printer
    • Dual head FDM
    • Heated metal bed
    • Build volume: 24.6 L x 15.2 W x 15.5 H cm
  • GMW Model 3473 Electomagnet
    • Generates > 3 Tesla
    • Magnetic studies
    • Particle alignment during curing
Other Resources at UTEP

Testing & Measurement

Materials Characterization
  • Measurement Capabilities: permittivity, permeability, loss tangent, and dielectric breakdown
  • Waveguide Materials Measurement
    • 1.72 - 2.60 GHz, WR 430, 109.22 L x 54.61 H x 35.56 W mm
    • 8.2 - 12.4 GHz, WR 90 X Band, 22.86 L x 10.16 H x 7.62 W mm
    • 12.4 - 18.0 GHz, WR 62 Ku Band, 15.80 L x 7.90 H x 5.08 W mm
  • Damaskos Materials Measurement System
    • Model 015 thin dielectric sheet tester: 7 data points, 0.4 to 6.0 GHz
    • Model 125HC thin dielectric sheet tester: 5 data points, 6.0 to 12.0 GHz
    • "Cavity" software
    • Sample size: < 1 mm thick, > 6x6 cm wide
    • Accuracy better than 1.5% when sample thickness is less than 1 mm and dielectric constant is less than 10
  • ViTREK V63 AC/DC/IR Safety Analyzer: 5 kVAC, 6 kVDC
Device Inspection and Repair
  • Matter and Form 3D Scanner
    • Color scans
    • Max Size: 18 cm diameter, 25 cm height
    • Max Weight: 3 kg
    • Scan Time: 5 minutes (high-speed), > 10 minutes (high-quality)
    • Accuracy: 430 microns (high-speed), 250 microns (high-quality)
  • Digital microscope with measurement capability
  • Micromanipulator probe station
  • Numerous Microscopes
  • Weller EC2002M professional soldering station
Electromagnetic Testing
  • Anechoic Chamber
    • Full 360° coverage
    • Room Size: 27 L x 12 W x 10 H feet
  • EMI shielded room for low noise testing
  • Agilent N5245A PNA-X Vector Network Analyzer
    • 10 MHz to 50 GHz
    • Four ports
    • Time-domain
    • Materials measurement
  • Keysight Vector Signal Analyzer/Generator
    • M9018A 18-slot PXI chassis
    • M9036A PXI embedded controller
    • M9381A PXIe vector signal generator
    • M9391A vector signal analyzer
    • M9099 waveform creator
    • 89601B vector signal analyzer sofware
    • M909XA X-series measurement applications
    • Signal studio software
    • N7618B WLAN signal studio app
    • N7624B LTE-FDD signal studio app
  • Two HP E4411B Spectrum Analyzers
    • 9 kHz to 1.5 GHz
  • Frequency Synthesizers
  • Agilent B3006A Microwave System Amplifier
    • 0.01 GHz to 26.5 GHz
Electrical and Electronics Testing
  • Oscilloscopes
  • Power Supplies
  • Digital Multimeters
  • Function Generators
  • Wide Assortment of Components and Supplies