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Duke's Hu Wins EDAA Outstanding Dissertation Award

Kai Hu is a recent Duke Electrical & Computer Engineering doctoral graduate

Kai Hu, a recent Duke ECE doctoral graduate, has won the 2016 European Design and Automation Association’s (EDAA) Outstanding Dissertations Award for new directions in logic, physical design and CAD for analog/mixed-signal, nano-scale and emerging technologies.

This is the fourth time Duke doctoral students have won the prestigious award, tying for the most with École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Hu’s dissertation, completed under the tutelage of Krishnendu Chakrabarty, the William H. Younger Distinguished Professor of Engineering, was titled ““Optimization, Testing and Design-for-Testability of Flow-Based Microfluidic Biochips.”

The research focuses on design automation and test methods for large, extremely dense microfluidic lab-on-a-chip devices that use large numbers of membrane-based valves, packing up to a million in a single square centimeter. The thesis presents a theoretical framework for designing and optimizing the top (control) and bottom (flow) layer of valve-based, two-layer biochips.

The programmability and valve-based control of these devices are revolutionizing a wide range of applications, such as high-throughput sequencing, parallel immunoassays, clinical diagnostics, DNA sequencing and protein crystallization.

“Kai’s research envisions an automated design flow for microfluidic biochips, in the same way that design automation revolutionized integrated circuit design in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” said Chakrabarty. “Biochip users such as chemists, nurses, doctors and clinicians, and the biotech/pharmaceutical industry, will adapt more easily to new technology if appropriate design tools and automated test methods are made available.”