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Research themes

The Centre for Communications and Electronics Research (CCER) conducts high quality research in the fields of optical, wireless, optical and multimedia communications. Our Centre has particular interest in applied research areas such as wireless sensor networks with applications in environmental monitoring, voice and voice over IP, green communications, next generation wireless broadband networks (i.e. 5G), smart energy systems, sensors and devices, frequency selective surfaces, 2D barcodes, and structural health monitoring.

Our focus at CCER is to respond critically to various new applications and develop leading edge technologies on communication systems and networks to facilitate these applications.

Our objectives at CCER are to:

  • Develop an environment for the pursuit of research in the fields of communication systems and networks.
  • Conduct collaborative research projects with industry and interdisciplinary partners.
  • Become a recognised research centre that will attract scholars, experts and students from interstate and abroad.
  • Disseminate research outcomes through international journal and conference publications, workshops, community focused seminars and the University’s teaching programs.

CCER provides an excellent opportunity for new postgraduate students to undertake high quality research in the field of communication systems
and networks via the PhD and Masters in Engineering. Academic and research staff at our Centre are recognised nationally and internationally for their research contributions in communication systems and networks. Our researchers work closely with industry, so students get the opportunity to interact
closely with industry partners and promote their research works, assisting students with their career development within the industry. Students are equipped with dedicated office space and excellent computing resources at the Centre. CCER has two researches groups. These two groups are Wireless Communications Research Group and Smart Energy Systems Research Group.

Wireless Communications Research Group

The Wireless Communications Research Group at CCER conducts high quality research in the fields of wireless, optical and multimedia communications. Our Centre has a proven track record of conducting applied research such as wireless sensor networks with applications in environmental monitoring, green communications, next generation wireless broadband networks (i.e. 5G), sensors and devices, frequency selective surfaces, digital image processing, and structural health monitoring.

Next generation wireless broadband technologies (e.g. 5G networks)

Wireless communication has enjoyed increasing interest from researchers over the last decade resulting in various industry standards. In recent years, we have seen a major growth of multimedia traffic mainly due to the popularity of smart phones and tablets, and as such, QoS provisioning for Multimedia applications has become a major research topic. Researchers at CCER are currently working on developing techniques for the 5G wireless
broadband network standards so that higher data rates as well as high QoS can be facilitated.

Green communications

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is becoming a major consumer of energy and unless technologies are further improved,
the ICT sector itself will account for more than 14% of total estimated power consumption by 2020. Our Group is currently working on developing green
communication technologies for reducing power consumption in the next generation wireless systems.

Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) and their applications for environmental monitoring and precision agriculture

Our Group is currently working on developing a low-power wireless communication framework which provides assistance for remote sensing applications, particularly with monitoring environmental conditions. We focus on three main applications which include: a. Air-quality monitoring, b. Gas-leak detection, and c. Fire sensing. Recent developments in WSNs have led to their use in remote data acquisition and automatic data analysis applications, which have proven to be an invaluable tool in a diverse range of fields including biosecurity. WSNs allow collecting data from various samples, and the data can be further analysed and used for developing a data classifier which can detect any attribute of known interests. Our Group aims to use this fundamental technique for developing new technologies for biosecurity applications (e.g. pest monitoring in grains, sugarcane,
honeybees etc.).

Sensors and devices

Devices implanted within the human body have been used for decades. The most familiar of these is the cardiac pacemaker. Pacemakers are currently being used for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Pacemakers, as electronic devices, have a limited battery life, typically five years, when the device needs to be surgically removed, and replaced. Current work is investigating the ability to communicate wirelessly with these devices safely, using acoustic communications signals. Our Group is also investigating the ability to develop novel optical technologies to make low coherent
medical imaging, Optical Coherence Tomography, portable and more cost effective. We are also investigating the effect of laser light on seed germination, and on plant diseases

Visual communications

This area focuses on research in the capture, analysis, processing, storage and transmission of visual information for visual communications, using advanced signal and image processing, pattern recognition and machine learning techniques. It aims to develop sensors and machines endowed with human like intelligence. It involves the design and development of a new generation of smart vision sensors with on-chip implementation of human-like vision algorithms for face detection and recognition. It also includes barcode image processing, image and video compression, and multimedia applications.

If you are interested in applying to ECU and want to discuss a specific project proposal in Wireless communications,

contact:
Associate Professor Iftekhar Ahmad
T: (61 8) 6304 5458      E: i.ahmad@ecu.edu.au

Smart Energy Systems Research Group

Existing power grids, which form the backbone of electrical power infrastructures, are expected to undergo a period of rapid change in the near future, mainly driven by the emergence of smart grids, as intelligent, digitally enhanced, two-way power delivery and control networks.

The activity of the Smart Energy Systems Research Group is directed towards developing smart grid technologies for microgrids, as innovative small-scale power generation networks. Specific aspects of this work include integration of renewable energy sources; demand forecasting by using artificial
intelligence; development of decision making and generation scheduling methods by considering the economic and environmental implications; integration of microgrids into the electricity market by developing smart and adaptive pricing mechanisms, which include ancillary services; and the development of intelligent control techniques for power quality. Energy storage systems such as plug-in electric vehicles and superconducting magnetic storage as well as multiagent systems for power quality are also included.

Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage Systems (SMES)

In the last few years, due to many developments and advances in power electronics system and electrical energy storage technology, the SMES has been used in many electrical and electronic applications. SMES shows a very high storage efficiency (about 98%) and a very rapid reaction to release
the stored energy (milliseconds) comparing with other storage technologies. Because of these significant features, SMES applications are providing practical solutions for several critical power system issues. These applications are used to help power transfer, improve the stability and develop the quality of the power system, and act as tools. In addition, applications of SMES show that energy storage technology can be combined with power electronic converters ensuring power system stability, improving transmission capability and enhancing the quality of power systems.

Energy storage and electric plug-in vehicles

Successful operation of a smart grid demands close cooperation among the generation, transmission and distribution systems. A smart grid offers a two-way communication between the source and the load; integrates renewable sources into the generation system; and provides reliability and
sustainability in the entire power system from generation through to ultimate power consumption. The lack of reliability in continuous production from renewable sources offers a challenging scenario in the real-time power delivery. Different storage options have been considered to account
for this unreliability. Popular energy storage devices include electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles with two-way power transfer capability (Gridto- Vehicle and Vehicle-to-Grid). At CCER, we aim to address challenges on how to increase the average lifetime of vehicles while discharging to the grid; how to make this two-way power transfer economically viable; and how to make the whole system more reliable and sustainable in  the presence of these vehicles. Another major problem of electric vehicles is the time required for full charging. Fast charging stations solve this problem to a certain degree, but a suitable charging algorithm/mechanism is required so that cars do not have to queue up at a charging station for an unacceptably long period.

Smart grid control and energy quality

Driven by environmental protection, economic factors, conservation of energy resources, and technical challenges, the microgrid has emerged as an
innovative small-scale power generation network. Microgrids consist of a cluster of Distributed Generation units that encompass a portion of an electric power distribution system and may rely on different energy sources. The microgrid is required to provide adequate levels and quality of power to meet load demands.

Energy demand forecasting

Future power generation management systems will include smart grid applications to perform complex tasks such as power trading, demand response
and resources scheduling. In all these applications forecasting the load profile, for both shortand long-term operation, is essential. Providing accurate
forecasts of the load profile is  a critical research target for mathematicians and engineers in this area. In modern automation, adaptability has become a crucial factor when implementing smart applications. The addition of adaptability enables smart applications to more closely resemble the human  sense of adaptive thinking.

If you are interested in applying to ECU and want to discuss a specific project proposal in smart grid technologies,

Contact:
Professor Daryoush Habibi
T: (61 8) 6304 5787   E: d.habibi@ecu.edu.au

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