Sahil Shah Receives NSF CAREER Award

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Sahil Shah

ECE Faculty Member Sahil Shah has been awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his project titled Exploring Mixed-Signal Computation for Energy-Efficient and Robust Brain-Machine Interfaces.  He will be awarded $599,495 over five years to support his research.  The NSF Career Award is awarded to early-career faculty who have contributed to advances in the mission of their department and serve as academic role models in research and education.

Shah's research in Brain-Machine Interfaces (BMIs) is focused on improving the functionality for individuals with neurological conditions and sensory or motor impairments. This is achieved by enabling them to control prosthetic limbs or computers through the conversion of neural signals into actionable commands. The current limitations of BMI technology are primarily due to the large size and high power consumption of the decoding equipment, which restricts its use to laboratory environments, in addition to the high costs associated with the technology. 

To address these challenges, Shah's project is developing energy-efficient BMIs by utilizing mixed-signal Spiking Neural Network (SNN)-based neural decoding algorithms and creating a mixed-signal integrated circuit. Shah's lab has recently published research in the Journal of Neural Engineering that highlights the efficiency and durability of SNNs, especially their continuous learning capabilities for neural decoding. These algorithms are recognized for their low energy usage and are designed to reduce both the physical size and operational expenses of BMIs. The project aims to integrate these algorithms into an integrated circuit platform, facilitating on-chip learning and adaptation, which could decrease the frequency of recalibrations and the need for extensive technical support. 

This approach is intended to enhance user mobility and quality of life while also making the technology more affordable. Alongside these technical goals, the project includes an educational component that involves providing students with research internships and programs focused on integrated circuit design and rehabilitation engineering, with the aim of making STEM fields more accessible and increasing awareness of rehabilitation engineering research.

Since joining the ECE Department in 2021, Shah has been highly recognized for his work.  In August, 2023, he received another grant from the NSF for his project onCollaborative Research: CMOS+X: 3D integration of CMOS spiking neurons with AlBN/GaN-based Ferroelectric HEMT towards artificial somatosensory systemHe was also awarded funding from SRC, Inc., along with Professors Don Yeung and Dinesh Manocha, for a project titled Hardware-Algorithm co-design for on-chip learning at the edge.  He received the 2023 George Corcoran Memorial Award for ECE faculty, which recognizes a young faculty member who has shown exemplary contributions to teaching and education leadership.  Shah became an Affiliate Fellow with the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices in 2022. 

Published February 29, 2024