Coenrad Fourie, Pr Eng
Professor
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Stellenbosch University

Research

Available postgraduate opportunities

Enrolled students

Graduated students

My group's primary research areas are:

  • InductEx
  • Superconductive electronics / Applied superconductivity
    • CAD applications (equivalent circuit extraction / optimization / layout verification / HDL synthesis / Placement-and-routing)
    • Digital electronics (SFQ families) and field-reprogrammable circuits
    • Field use of SQUID magnetometers
  • Space weather:
    • Geomagnetism (www.squidmagnet.org).
    • Space-borne hazard prediction
    • Globally-distributed ground-based sensor networks

Available postgraduate research opportunities (MScEng, PhD, post-doc):

The projects listed below are the main research opportunities for 2015-2016. I have other projects too, and am also willing to consider project proposals that can be aligned with my current research.

Develop SFQ and AQFP HDL cell libraries and synthesis methods (MEng, PhD)

Develop detailed hardware description language (HDL) cell libraries for superconducting single-flux quantum (SFQ) and adiabatic quantum flux parametron (AQFP) logic families, in both VHDL and Verilog. Also develop synthesis methods to turn high level HDL descriptions into collections of gates, and enable very large scale integration (VLSI) synthesis of superconducting circuits at the level of microprocessors.
Requirements: BEng in E&E, HonsBSc in Physics, HonsBSc in Comp. Sci., or equivalent degree. Proficiency in Java, C and C++ is a necessity.

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InductEx - Maintain and extend inductance extraction utility and offer consulting services to users (MEng)

InductEx is the world's most powerful inductance extraction tool for multi-terminal superconductive integrated circuit layouts. It is compiled for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. However, it is still developing. New fabrication processes and improvements in calculation speed (through segmentation optimisation algorithms) require constant and innovative development, while rapid response to user requests and consultation on advanced extraction problems are required.
Requirements: BEng in E&E, HonsBSc in Physics, HonsBSc in Comp. Sci., or equivalent degree. Proficiency in Pascal is a necessity.

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Clock-tree design, placement and routing algorithms for VLSI SFQ logic circuits (MEng)

Develop clock-tree design, cell placement and signal routing algorithms for the very large scale integration (VLSI) desig of superconducting single-flux quantum (SFQ) logic circuits, especially for more than 100 000 gates. SFQ logic families are special: operating frequencies above 100 GHz, ultra-low power dissipation, and lossless interconnects with ballistic signal transfer (at the speed of light). There are also challenges: low fan-out (typically 1 or 2), pulse-based operation (no voltage levels), susceptibility to magnetic fields from bias currents, and sensitivity to timing jitter; so that standard techniques for semiconductor VLSI logic cannot be applied as-is.
Requirements: BEng in E&E, HonsBSc in Physics, HonsBSc Mathematics, HonsBSc in Comp. Sci., or equivalent degree. Proficiency in C / C++ is a necessity.

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Capacitance extraction for superconductive circuit layouts (MEng, PhD)

Starting with available electroquasistatic solvers, develop a capacitance extraction programme for superconductive circuit layouts. Map circuit layouts to 3D structures with surface panels and devise a method to extract capacitance in a complex network from the solutions obtained with the solver.
Requirements: MScEng/MEng in E&E, MSc in Physics, MSc in Comp. Sci., or equivalent degree.

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Develop Layout-versus-Schematic (LVS) extraction utility for superconductive integrated circuit layouts (MEng)

Engineers and physicists involved in superconductive integrated circuit layout need an advanced tool that can translate layout drawings back to circuit netlists to verify layouts. This involves polygon processing, graph theory, isomorphism checks and strong algorithms.
Requirements: BEng, HonsBSc in Physics, HonsBSc in Mathematics, HonsBSc in Physics in Comp. Sci., or equivalent degree.

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Full-circuit network parameter extraction from port excitations (MEng)

Develop linear algebra solutions and algorithms to calculate the impedance of each branch in a multi-port network from excitation voltages and currents into the terminals of each port. Resistance and inductance/capacitance must be calculated, as well as mutual inductance between any combination of inductances. The systems of linear equations are large and typically overdetermined, with infinite sets of solutions. Finding a least squares solution is conceptionally easy, but mutual inductance complicates this. Methods must be investigated to determine solution stability and arrive at the best results, specifically for mutual inductance.
Requirements: BEng in E&E, HonsBSc in Physics, HonsBSc in Comp. Sci., or equivalent degree.

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Develop low-power, low current superconductive integrated circuits (MEng / PhD)

Single-Flux Quantum (SFQ) electronics such as the RSFQ logic family are ultra-fast (200-300 GHz), differ radically from voltage-based semiconductors, and offer many possibilities for innovative new circuit designs. With recent advances in low-power SFQ circuits (such as eSFQ), new circuits can be designed to switch at energy levels below 1 aJ per bit. Current consumption can be reduced with current recycling. Such circuits must be designed, fabricated, and tested in liquid helium in labs in New York, France and Germany.
Requirements: BEng in E&E, E&E Comp. Sci., Mechatronic, HonsBSc in Physics, HonsBSc in Comp. Sci. or equivalent degree.

Opportunity to spend 6 months to 1 year for student exchange with Technische Universität Ilmenau, Germany, or as intern at Hypres, Inc. (New York).

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My current students and their projects are:

Kyle Jackman
(PhD)

 

Fast multicore CEM solvers and flux trapping analysis for superconducting structures

Kyle is developing multicore, hybrid mesh computational electromagnetic solvers for inductance and frequency-dependent impedance extraction from superconductive integrated circuits. He also develops flux trapping analysis methods and tools for superconducting structures.

 

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Rodwell Bakolo
(PhD)

 

Magnetic field tolerant SFQ electronics

Rodwell is developing SFQ electronics with increased magnetic field tolerance. He considers analysis techniques for assessing magnetic field effects on circuit operational points and operating margins, as well as layout and shielding techniques to improve margins.

 

 

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Joey Delport
(PhD)

 

Electronic design automation software for superconductive circuits

Joey is developing EDA software and supporting tools for superconductive SFQ circuits, and is also investigating the requirements for adapting conventional semiconductor design tools to superconductive circuit technologies.

 

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Ruben van Staden
(PhD)

 

Layout-versus-schematic and design rule checking methods for SFQ integrated circuits

Ruben is working on layout-versus-schematic (LVS) methods for SFQ integrated circuits, to aid circuit designers with layout verification and to improve the accuracy of automated parameter extraction for such circuits.

 

 

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Calvin Maree
(MEng)

 

A superconducting FPGA

Calvin is developing architectures, logic synthesis methods and routing solutions for a superconducting field-programmable gate array.

 

 

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Lieze Schindler
(MEng)

 

Design and analysis methods for VLSI superconducting circuits

Lieze is investigating methods to construct and analyse VLSI superconducting circuits, especially at the hardware description language level. Her aim is to allow million-gate circuits to be verified with HDL.

 

 

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Paul Le Roux
(MEng)

 

3D rendering utility for superconducting integrated circuits

Reino is developing 3D rendering methods to create visual models of current flow and magnetic fields in and around superconductive ICs, and generate manufacture-realistic models. He is also studying parasitic coupling and shielding models for new-generation multi-layer manufacturing processes.

 

 

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Peter Peiser
(MEng)

 

HDL synthesis and automated clock tree planning and routing for SFQ circuits

Peter develops HDL synthesis and automated clock tree planning and routing methods and algorithms for superconductive circuits. He is also responsible for security and copy protection measures in our group's software modules.

 

 

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Tiffany Woodley
(Final year UG)

 

An HDL Superconducting FPGA model

Tiffany is developing a full Verilog simulation model of a superconducting FPGA for the purpose of verifying the programming sub-layer and the operation of circuits synthesized onto the SFPGA.

 

 

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Graduated students since 2005:

Nicasio Maguu Muchuka
(PhD, 2017)
Hardware description language modelling and synthesis of superconducting digital circuits
Christaan Kwisanga
(PhD, 2016)
SQUID geomagnetic signal analysis and modelling of Schumann resonances in the Earth-ionosphere cavity
Ruben van Staden
(MEng, 2015)
Magnetic field visualization for superconducting circuits
Louis Müller
(PhD, 2015)
RSFQ digital circuit design automation and optimisation

Rebecca Roberts
(MEng, 2015)

 

Automated parameter extraction for Single Flux Quantum integrated circuits with LVS

Lucas Janse van Vuuren
(MEng, 2015)

 

Global interconnected SQUID geomagnetometer network

Emile Lochner
(MEng, 2015)

Towards a global network of SQUIDs through optimal monitoring station design

Anton Kilian
(MScEng, 2014)
3-Axis Geomagnetic Magnetometer System Design Using Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices

Thabang Matladi
(MEng, 2014)

(Co-supervised with Danie Gouws and Elda Saunderson at SANSA)

Correlation between SQUID and Fluxgate Magnetometer Data-sets for Geomagnetic Storms: Hermanus
Mark Volkmann
(PhD, 2013)
A superconducting software-defined radio frontend with application to the Square-Kilometre Array

Temwani-Joshua Phiri
(MScEng, 2012)

(Co-supervised with Danie Gouws at SANSA)

Correlation between SQUID and fluxgate magnetometer data for geomagnetic storms
Rodwell Bakolo
(MScEng, 2011)
Design and implementation of a RSFQ digital electronics cell library
David Northeast
(MScEng, 2011)
Hot electron bolometer sensor for millimetre-wave and terahertz wave detection
Le Roux Badenhorst
(MScEng, 2009)
Cryogenic integrated circuit CMOS devices for RAM and interface applications
Charl van Niekerk
(MScEng, 2008)
A Cryogenic CMOS-based Control System for Testing Superconductor Electronics
Riaan du Toit
(MScEng, 2008)

A CDMA software defined radio system with a superconductive front-end
Hannes van der Westhuyzen
(MScEng, 2006)
Probe characterisation, design and evaluation for the real-time quality indication of milk
 
Pierre Lötter
(MScEng, 2006)
Parameter extraction of superconducting integrated circuits
 
Hein van Heerden (MScEng, 2005)

Design and testing of a superconducting programmable gate array

 
     

 

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