My name is Xilin (/'ʃi-lin/) Liu. I am an Assistant Professor in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada. I direct the X-lab, which is a diverse team of people who build integrated circuits (IC) and systems that aim to improve the lives of millions, if not billions, of people. I am affiliated with the Centre for Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Engineering (CARTE) and the Center for Advancing Neurotechnological Innovation to Application (CRANIA). I obtained my Ph.D. degree under the supervision of Prof. Jan Van der Spiegel at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. Before joining the University of Toronto, I spent five years working at Qualcomm Inc., USA.
My research expertise includes IC design, vertical system integration, and edge artificial intelligence (AI). My current research develops ICs and systems for advancing human healthcare, 5G telecommunication, and environmental science. I am passionate about pushing the boundaries of technologies in enhancing human life quality. My research outcomes to date include 15 journal publications (including Nature Electronics, PNAS, IEEE journals, etc.), 2 book/chapters, 14 conference papers, and 4 U.S. patents [see my publications]. My industrial experience includes contributions to a series of top-tier IC products including the world's first commercial 5G chipset. I have received the IEEE Solid-State Circuit Society (SSCS) 2016 Predoctoral Achievement Award. My first author papers have received 3 Best Papers Awards on top conferences. I was also the recipient of the Student-Research Preview Award of the 2014 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).
My current research focuses on developing ICs and systems with edge AI for advancing human health, 5G telecommunication, and environmental sciences. Specifically, I conduct interdisciplinary research in the following three themes: (1) biomedical IC designs for treating intractable neurological conditions; (2) ultra-wideband data converter designs for 5G telecommunication; and (3) multi-functional CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) sensor designs for environment monitoring. Currently, I conduct research at the University of Toronto (U of T) in collaboration with multiple faculty members in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the University Health Network (UHN), international researchers (e.g., the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, Tsinghua University in China), and industrial partners.
Theme 1: Neuroelectronic IC designs for human health. Up to 1 billion people around the world are suffering from neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury. Neurological disorders cost 25% of the global burden of diseases. There is a great need for improved treatments with low-cost and high efficacy, consuming mini-mum healthcare resources. My research develops neural implants, a type of medical device that can treat neurological conditions by providing therapeutic stimulation (similar to a heart pacemaker) to a patient in response to the real-time detection of irregular biomarkers in the neural signals (e.g., seizures). ICs have been developed for integrating neural implants into miniature chips for improving performance and reducing invasiveness. However, conventional ICs for neural implants have limited interfacing modalities and oversimplified neuromodulation algorithms. My research aims to overcome these limitations by advanced IC design techniques with edge AI. In addition, my research develops wearable, low-cost, autonomous medical devices for neu-rorehabilitation.
Theme 2: Wideband Data Converters for 5G Telecommunication. 5G is a global wireless standard for the fifth generation telecommunication technologies, which deliver multi-Gbps mobile data speeds. 5G is projected to generate $4.36 trillion economic output and support 22 million jobs in 2030. 5G cell towers (i.e., base stations) are much cheaper, smaller, and lower power than earlier genera-tions, which can bring high-speed internet access to remote regions (e.g., Northern Canada) and underdeveloped countries that cannot afford the infrastructure of massive fiber-optic networks. Despite being more energy-efficient than earlier generations, massive deployments of 5G raise environmental concerns. Developing green and sustainable solutions (e.g., low-power IC, solar-powered bases stations, etc.) is a top-priority task, which needs top talents from both industry and academia. My research develops low-power IC techniques for reducing the power consumption for both mobile end and base station. For example, my research studies massive parallel path interleaving architecture for wideband data converters.
Theme 3: CMOS Sensors for Environmental Studies. According to WHO, 26% of the world’s population lack safely managed drinking water. Despite being one of the most water-rich nations in the world, Canada currently has been unable to test drinking water and identify toxins at low costs in the field to guarantee access to clean wa-ter, particularly for Indigenous peoples. My research will enable low-cost methods of real-time in-field monitoring of water contamination by developing miniature NMR spectrometers. The miniature NMR spectrometer features a fully integrated transceiver IC for on-chip signal proccessing. In addition, my research develops low-power, distributed multi-functional sensor nodes for environmental monitoring (e.g., ambient light, temperature, humidity, etc.). The sensor nodes have been integrated into responsive building facades for energy saving.