School of Electronic Engineering

Research & Innovation | Research Interests and Expertise

Research Interests and Expertise


The observation by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that computing power doubles every two years is a near-iron law of the industry. However, as chips get faster and smaller, engineers are encountering barriers they must overcome if performance is not to slow or diminish. Working at an atomic scale, our researchers are at the forefront of a global effort to create new materials and designs, which will enable the electronics that power our lives to get smaller, better and more energy-efficient.

The Nanomaterials Processing Laboratory (NPL) researches:

(i)              Novel materials for blue-ultraviolet electroluminescence on Si

(ii)            Advanced non-destructive electronic nanomaterials characterisation

(iii)           Advanced plasma process control and diagnostics

(iv)           Ultrafast spectroscopy


The group is equipped with facilities for material growth and processing using e.g. liquid phase epitaxy, physical vapour deposition, magnetron sputtering, plasma etching and sol-gel deposition. It has class 100, 1000 and 10000 clean rooms and facilities for fabrication of semiconductor devices. There is a heavy emphasis on nanomaterials characterisation, especially photoacoustic spectroscopy, micro-Raman spectroscopy, deep level transient spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, FTIR spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction. In addition NPL works in conjunction with HASYLAB in Hamburg and ANKA in Karlsruhe on synchrotron X-ray topography.

 Professor Patrick McNally, BE, Sc.M., Ph.D., C.Eng., MIEI, C.Phys., FinstP, SMIEEE

  • Nanomaterials and electronic device process characterisation
  • Synchrotron X-ray topography
  • Semiconductor dislocation studies
  • Wide-bandgap semiconductors
  • Photoacoustic spectroscopy of semiconductors

Dr Xiaojun Wang, B.Eng., M.Eng., Ph.D., C.Eng., MIEE -

  • High-level logic synthesis
  • Rapid system prototyping

Dr Stephen Daniels, B.Eng., Ph.D.

  • Micro/nano-electronic manufacture
  • Twin film deposition and characterisation
  • Process diagnostics

Signal/Image Processing

Information is carried in electronic devices by analogue and digital signals. Manipulating these signals to extract information, add effects or improve performance is what signal and image processing is all about. Examples are all around, from compression algorithms that enable your portable mp3 player to hold tens of thousands of songs, to face-recognition systems that allow you to arrange a photograph library, to medical imaging systems that can scan your body to identify conditions and illnesses. The “big-data” era now demands highly effective methods to manipulate signals as the number of information sources rapidly increases. Our School has a long history of developing and using signal and image processing to, for example, detect cancers, improve the performance of elite sportspeople, and assist older people in living independently at home.

At the Centre for Image Processing and Analysis, the Computer Vision and Medical Imaging Group specialises in developing and designing computer-based solutions for automatic extraction of image features in 2D, video, 3D and 4D data for analysis of data/information within the scene. This enables image processing and analysis for industrial, robotic, computer-aided detection and diagnostic biomedical applications. It also supports visual biometrics, virtual reality and image visualisation applications. 

Professor Paul F. Whelan, B.Eng., M.Eng., Ph.D., C.Eng., MIEE, SMIEEE

  • Image processing and quantitative image analysis
  • Computer and machine vision
  • Medical image analysis
  • Computer assisted detection and diagnosis
  • 3D Imaging of biological surfaces

Dr Derek Molloy, B.Eng., Ph.D., M.I.E.I., A.M.I.E.E.

  • Machine vision (motion analysis)
  • Virtual reality applications
  • Web-based teaching
  • Software engineering

Dr Robert Sadlier, B.Eng., Ph.D, M.I.E.I., M.I.E.E.E.

  • Computer and machine vision
  • 3D computer graphics
  • Medical image analysis

At the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, the Multi-Modal Digital Media Analysis and Processing Group has contributed to world-wide standards such as ITU-T H.263, ISO MPEG-4 and MPEG-7. Current research focuses on mining context and semantic information from digital media for e.g. ambient assisted living, social media and personal health.

Professor Noel E. O’Connor, B.Eng., Ph.D., MIEI, MIET, MIEEE -

  • Audiovisual content understanding for extracting context and semantics
  •  Object, event and activity analysis and modelling
  •  Content processing and indexing for browsing, searching, alerting, filtering and summarisation
  • Power aware reconfigurable hardware for media processing on mobile platforms

The Speech Synthesis and Speech Recognition Group brings together experts in speech acoustics, synthesis, recognition, speaker transformation and signal processing. Our current work in synthesis covers concatenative and statistical parametric synthesis, as well as new models of perception of discontinuity and perceptual experiments to validate. Our work on speaker transformation ranges over non-linear estimation of speech production models and dimensionality reduction for voice modification.

Dr Ronan Scaife, B.A., B.A.I., Ph.D., M.ISCA, M.ASA

  • Speech acoustics
  • Perception of speech discontinuities
  • HMM speech synthesis
  • Virtual-physical musical instruments

Systems and Control

In our homes electronic control systems, automatically and invisibly, enable many domestic appliances, monitoring, controlling and regulating their operation. The media have recently started reporting the prospect of self-driving cars and unmanned drones delivering to your door the things you just bought online. Our Systems and Control researchers are concerned with designing and analysing complex systems like these to work in ways we haven’t even yet imagined. Their work involves mathematical analysis, theory development and prototyping. It includes, for example, work on self-repairing machines, hydrogen fuel cells and solar panels.

There are three research groups in Systems and Control:

The Artificial Life Laboratory & e-Accessibility Group researches self-repairing machines and enhancing access to web-based services for people with a disability. Machines have not yet learned to do what living systems can: self-repair, reproduce and evolve. Our research may enable the machines of the future to do just that. Our current work on e-Accessibility includes national and EU evaluations of web accessibility.

Professor Barry McMullin, BE, M.Eng.Sc., Ph.D., AMIET, MIEI

  • Artificial life
  • Evolutionary growth of complexity
  • Web accessibility evaluation
  • Guidelines
  • Technologies

The Control Systems Group focuses on instrumentation, robust controller design, intelligent systems, and optimisation by vector space methods, evolution-based methods and semi-infinite linear programming.

Ms. Jennifer Bruton, B.Eng., A.M.I.E.E., M.I.E.E.E.

  • Control system design
  • Fuzzy logic control and identification
  • Neural network control and identification
  • Evolutionary approaches to optimisation

Dr Anthony M. Holohan, B.E., M.Eng.Sc., M.Phil., Ph.D., M.I.E.I.

  • Robust control theory
  • Mathematical optimisation
  • Computer-aided design
  • Functional analysis

The Energy and Design Laboratory specialises in energy engineering. We design, model and analyse sustainable energy systems and installations; design energy-efficient devices; and rapidly develop prototype designs and systems. We welcome the opportunity to use these capabilities for industry-academic collaborations.

Dr Stephen Daniels, B.Eng., Ph.D

  • Power monitoring
  • Remote monitoring systems
  • Data Management systems
  • Solar analysis and modelling
  • Nanostructured solar materials
  • Marine device acoustics


Telecommunications, especially wireless communication, has become an integral feature of modern life.  It underpins the internet, and will enable the “internet of things” where, for example, household devices will ‘talk to each other’ allowing us to monitor, regulate and control our lives, generally making life more convenient.

 There are significant challenges to overcome in how we design and manage these future communication networks e.g. how to create the capacity to manage this torrent of information and how to reduce the energy costs in moving it around. Our research groups solve the mathematical equations describing the limits constraining how communication systems operate, design the systems and components, and design and analyse the networks over which communication takes place.

We have, for example, designed multimedia content streaming systems that can automatically adapt to the quality and speed of the communications link, to maintain a smoother viewing experience. We have designed laser-based pulse generation systems that can transmit data faster than current systems. We are also researching meta-materials that can bend and manipulate light – bringing us a step closer to the invisibility cloak! 

There are five research groups, specialising in systems and software issues, communications protocols and performance, switching and transmission over copper, optical and wireless links, and physical layer modelling and simulation.

The Performance Engineering Laboratory applies queueing theory to understand or improve the design of systems experiencing performance problems.

Dr Jennifer McManis, B.E.E., M.S., Ph.D.

  • Real-time and hybrid systems

Dr Gabriel Muntean, B.E., M.Sc., Ph.D., M.I.E.E.E.

  • User perceived quality-oriented multimedia delivery
  • Performance-aware adaptive multimedia systems
  • Quality of service and quality of experience provisioning
  • Mobile and wireless communications
  • Adaptive hypermedia systems


In the Radio and Optical Communications Laboratory, the focus is on design, simulation and demonstration of new technologies for broadband photonic communication systems.


Professor Liam Barry, B.E., M.Eng.Sc., Ph.D., M.I.E.E.E. –

  • Fibre optics
  • Optical communications
  • High speed devices

Dr Pascal Landais, M.S., Ph.D., M.I.E.E.E.

  • Semiconductor laser
  • Semiconductor optical amplifier
  • Optical fibre network


The RF Modelling and Simulation Group specialises in wave scattering modelling, wireless communications and circuit modelling.

Dr Marissa Condon, B.E., Ph.D., M.I.E.E.E.

  • RF systems
  • Computational electromagnetics
  • Circuits and systems
  • Numerical Analysis


Dr Conor Brennan, B.A. (Mod), Ph.D., M.I.E.E.E., M.I.E.E.

  • Computational electromagnetics
  • Full-wave, asymptotic and hybrid methods for electromagnetic wave scattering modelling
  • Wireless communications: propagation modelling
  • Inverse scattering.
  • Metamaterial design


The Switching and Systems Group focuses on the theory of broadband switched networks and translates this into practice by designing broadband systems.

Dr Martin Collier, B.Eng., M.Eng., Ph.D., M.I.E.E.E.

  • Network protocols
  • High-speed switching and routing
  • Switching theory
  • QoS routing


The Network Processing Group specialises in energy-efficient network processing.

Dr Xiaojun Wang, B.Eng., M.Eng., Ph.D., C.Eng., MIEE

  • Energy-efficient Network Processing
  • High-level logic synthesis for power efficiency and testability
  • HDL Modeling for rapid system prototyping