Public Release: 

Wayne State professor earns prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Aims to improve microwave radar-sensing technology

Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research

DETROIT - Chung-Tse Michael Wu of the Wayne State University College of Engineering has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the agency's most prestigious award for up-and-coming researchers in science and engineering.

Wu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the recipient of a five-year, $500,000 grant for the project "Spectrally-Encoded Ultrafast Microwave Panoramic Camera." This was his first NSF CAREER application.

Microwave radar systems, used in sensors and wireless communications, detect targets using beam-scanning antennas. Traditionally, the antennas are powered by motors or electronic phase shifters, which Wu states can be slow, expensive and provide only a limited field of view. Through this research project, Wu plans to develop antennas made of novel transmission-line-based metamaterials that would enable a high-speed, microwave panoramic camera (MPC).

"The new type of transmission line has a unique property in that it can map different frequencies to particular angular locations -- what is known as frequency space mapping," said Wu. "We can build the antenna on a printed circuit board and have 180 by 180 degree, or half of a sphere, field of view for the microwave panoramic camera."

The main use for a microwave panoramic camera is automotive safety for both conventional and autonomous vehicles. "The proposed MPC will be applied, in particular, to automotive radar to provide driver assistance, making driving safer and more convenient," said Wu. "The fast sensing and panoramic field of view enabled by MPC-based radars will provide early warning of potential collisions to drivers and continuously monitor road conditions." Other uses include medical imaging as well as security and defense systems.

Through this project, Wu is applying optical imaging concepts -- namely spectrally encoded confocal microscopy, a fiber-based optical imaging method for high-speed scanning -- to microwave and millimeter-wave research. He will use the nFAB laboratory, a semiconductor fabrication cleanroom facility at the College of Engineering, to create the prototype.

Wu, who earned his Ph.D. from UCLA and focuses on microwave circuits, wireless electronics, radar imaging systems and applied electromagnetics, will recruit five undergraduate students from WSU and partner community colleges each year to assist in this project. He is currently involved with Wayne State's University Bound program, which assists community college students with completing their programs and transferring to a four-year university.

"Congratulations to Dr. Wu on receiving this prestigious award from the National Science Foundation on his first try," said Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering. "His research in microwave radar systems and its applications will enhance lifesaving technologies and continue to demonstrate Wayne State's leadership in automotive safety."

The National Science Foundation award number for this grant is 1552958.


About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation's pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit

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