2022 IEEE APS R. W. P. King Award recognizes new theory in computational electromagnetics

Patel and Michielssen developed the Wigner-Smith time delay matrix for electromagnetics.

Eric Michielssen and Utkarsh Patel took a technique common to the field of quantum physics and, in a novel twist, applied it to their field of electromagnetics. Their innovative research was recognized with the 2022 IEEE Antennas & Propagation Society (APS) R. W. P. King Award.

“This is a new theory for understanding electromagnetic wave propagation,” said Patel, former postdoctoral researcher now at AMD. Specifically, “it is a new way of characterizing time delays experienced by electromagnetic waves as they interact with devices and complex environments,” added Michielssen, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Potential applications include the design of antennas, microwave devices, and novel material systems.

The award-winning paper, Wigner–Smith Time Delay Matrix for Electromagnetics: Computational Aspects for Radiation and Scattering Analysis, co-authored by Patel and Michielssen, was published in the IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, July 2021. 

That paper is the second in what has become a series of papers by the authors. The first, Wigner-Smith Time Delay Matrix for Electromagnetics: Theory and Phenomenology, published in February 2021 in the same journal, introduced the new theory.

Engineering advances often describe continual optimization, but Michielssen and Utkarsh had the novel idea of applying Wigner-Smith techniques, developed about 60 years ago to characterize time delays experienced by interacting fields and particles and commonly used in physics, to computational electromagnetics.  

“There were similarities in the equations, and there were interesting applications in photonics which made this more interesting,” said Patel, former postdoctoral researcher now at AMD. “We thought we could come up with new ways to design antenna arrays, for example, or come up with new devices where we need to precisely control the time delay between the signals.”

The second paper, unlike the first which introduced the theory, is highly technical and provides the mathematics for how to compute Wigner-Smith time delay matrices in a computational electromagnetics setting, specifically,  for systems composed of lossless PEC radiators and/or scatterers.

Since then, the authors have submitted several additional papers, co-authored by current postdoctoral researcher Yiqian Mao. These papers apply the Wigner-Smith time delay matrix to acoustics and to systems composed of dispersive and lossy materials.

About the authors

Utkarsh Patel

Patel worked with Michielssen as a postdoctoral researcher between August 2019 and January 2021, and then joined AMD as a senior analog designer. He received his PhD from the University of Toronto in 2019, and during his graduate years, received a Best Paper Award at the IEEE Topical Meeting on Electrical Performance of Electronic Packaging and Systems, and a Best Student Paper Award at the IEEE Workshop on Signal and Power Integrity.

Eric Michielssen

Michielssen is the Louise Ganiard Johnson Professor of Engineering and currently serves as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering. He has received the URSI Koga Gold Medal and Booker Fellowship, as well as the IEEE AP-S Chen-To-Tai Distinguished Educator Award, the IEEE APS Sergei A. Schelkunoff Transactions Prize Paper Award, the IEEE APS Harrington-Mittra Computational Electromagnetics Award, and the ACES Computational Electromagnetics Award.

About the award

The R. W. P. King Award is given to an author under 36 years of age for the best paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation during the previous year.  Patel and Michielssen will be presented with the award at the 2022 IEEE APS Symposium on July 13, 2022.