Electrical and Computer Engineering facilities

Our electrical and computer engineering research students have access to facilities at the UC College of Engineering, the Spatial Engineering Research Centre (SERC) and The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

Electrical and Computer Engineering facilities

The College of Engineering has some of the best-equipped research and teaching laboratories in New Zealand.

Research labs

The Communications Laboratory is primarily engaged in research into advanced digital wireless systems. The work encompasses theoretical, simulation and DSP-based hardware prototyping and the projects underway include:

  • Development of advanced adaptive receiver structures for fading dispersive channels. This includes work on near optimum, reduced complexity receivers.
  • Various studies of advanced coded modulation systems for use in the wireless environment.
  • The development, including a hardware prototype, of adaptive wireless systems to allow the experimental study of array performance and the investigation of multiuser detection and decoding algorithms.

The High Voltage Laboratory is a graduate research and undergraduate teaching laboratory. It specialises in the measurement and testing of equipment and components of Electric Power Engineering.

Equipment in the laboratory

The High Voltage Laboratory testing facilities are based around two major pieces of equipment, namely an impulse generator and a HVac testing transformer. These allow controlled testing of equipment and material insulation, such as under dry and wet conditions. While testing can be undertaken according to standards requirements, staff specialize in developing testing requirements for specific customer requirements and more explorative research.

Research is geared towards understanding the electric field and high voltage phenomena, developing innovative equipment for the electrical industry and new technologies which use high voltage concepts in their design.

Teaching laboratories include studying the breakdown of air under varying atmospheric conditions, especially moisture, varying supply voltage and frequency and under multiple insulation arrangements. They are particularly geared towards the use of live-line techniques for transmission and distribution system maintenance. Transformer insulation condition measurement is also a set laboratory exercise.

Lectures in high voltage are embodied into specific courses associated with Electrical Engineering.

In electrotechnology, electric fields, insulation materials and the physics of the breakdown of gases, liquids and solids is presented, along with applications from micro-electronics to power engineering. A practical laboratory exercise involves studying the breakdown of air under varying atmospheric conditions, especially moisture, varying supply voltage and frequency and under multiple insulation arrangements. They are particularly geared towards the use of live-line techniques for transmission and distribution system maintenance.

In power systems engineering, various methods of measuring the breakdown of insulation are presented. The equipment required to undertake these tests and the apparatus required to measure insulation characteristics is also presented. The laboratory exercise involves the measurement of transformer insulation condition using a high voltage capacitance and dissipation factor test set.

For a full list of the equipment see High Voltage Equipment page

The Electrical and Computer Engineering's (ECE) Nanofabrication Laboratory contains facilities for semiconductor material processing, nanofabrication, and sensor and microfluidic device development. This is the main fabrication facility for the inter-departmental Nanostructure Engineering, Science and Technology research group, as well as the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. The facility is also used as an undergraduate teaching laboratory for ENEL 491 Nano Engineered Electronic Devices and ENEL 400 Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Project.

The equipment in the Nanofabrication Laboratory covers most aspects of semiconductor device fabrication, from materials growth and characterisation to device packaging. The principal tools are: 

  • Electron Beam Lithography (Raith 150)
  • Reactive Ion Etching (Oxford PlasmaLab 80Plus)
  • Optical Microscopy (Olympus BX30 with digital image capture)
  • Atomic Force Microscope (Digital Instruments Dimension 3100)
  • Plasma Ashing
  • Optical Lithography (Suss MA-6)
  • Nanoimprint Lithography (EVG)
  • Interference Lithography
  • Thin Film Deposition (Edwards AUTO 500)
  • Semiconductor Device Characterisation (HP 4155A Parameter Analyser)
  • Surface Profilometer (DEKTAK 150)
  • Wire Bonding
  • Micromilling (CNC Mini- Mill/GX)

Access to Equipment Booking (Requires a current user account)

These are accessible to outside organisations on a contract or collaborative basis. For more information contact Professor Maan AlkaisiA/Prof Martin Allen or Dr Volker Nock.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering's (ECE) Biological Applications Laboratory contains facilities for PC-2 Biological Containment and is certified for live cell and micro-organism experiments. This is a research facility for the inter-departmental Nanostructure Engineering, Science and Technology research group, as well as the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

The equipment in the Nanofabrication Laboratory covers most aspects of cell culture, biological imaging and microfluidic device testing. The principal tools are: 

  • Class 2 Biological Laminar Flow Hood
  • Harvard PHD2000 Syringe Pump
  • Elveflow OB1 MK3 - 4 channel flow controller
  • Elveflow MUX Quake Valve - microfluidic flow switch matrix
  • Nikon Eclipse 80i Fluorescence Microscope (B-3A, FITC, TxRed, DAPI, Special Red, RTDP, MitoXpress)
  • Hamamatsu ORCA Flash 4 V2 digital imaging system
  • Nikon Eclipse TS100 F Inverted Microscope
  • Thermo Fisher Cell-Culture Incubator
  • Contherm Mitre 4000 Cell-Culture Incubator
  • Heraeus Labofuge 300
  • PreSens Microx 4 trace fiber optic oxygen sensor

[Equipment Booking] (current login required)

These are accessible to outside organisations on a contract or collaborative basis. For more information contact Dr Volker Nock or Professor Maan Alkaisi.

The Power Research Lab (situated alongside the Power Electronics Lab) is a postgraduate research laboratory specialising in higher power applications. Here you will find projects and equipment associated with renewable and sustainable energy electrical systems, electric vehicles and utility power quality.

Teaching labs

This laboratory is used for many undergraduate courses for laboratory experiments and projects. It contains 28 workbenches, each equipped with a PC, a dual-channel 100 MHz oscilloscope, a DC power supply, multimeters and a multipurpose waveform generator. Each bench can seat up to three students.

A wide range of specialised instrumentation is also kept in this laboratory to support final year projects and research conducted by staff and postgraduate students. Some of the specialised equipment includes: RF and microwave spectrum analysers, a microwave vector network analyser, microwave power meter, RF and microwave signal sources and pulse generators.

Most academic staff teach in this laboratory.

The Machines Laboratory is one of the main teaching laboratories in the department. It is used for First and Second Professional Year laboratories as well as Third Professional Year Projects and postgraduate projects.

It is used for the undergraduate teaching of:

  • Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering
  • Electromagnetism
  • Transformers
  • AC Machines
  • DC Machines
  • Power Electronics

The Control Laboratory is used for the teaching of the Control Systems 1 and Control Systems 2 courses within the department. In addition it is used to house a number of third professional projects each year. 

It is also used for ENMT 201 Mechatronics Design for PLC laboratories, and ENEL 482 Robotics for automated vehicle robotics labs.

Information on the Digital Systems Technical Library relates to digital systems, development tools, PCB design and soldering.

The Power Electronics Lab (situated alongside the Power Research Lab) is used for some undergraduate labs (involving solar-electric cars and electric go-kart speed control) and for postgraduate research specialising in the fast growing field of power electronics. This field is very wide, ranging from small power supplies of just a few watts (as you would find in a smartphone) to high voltage static convertors (1.2GW). Power electronics is critical for the efficient distribution and use of electric power and as such plays a key role in reducing the environmental impact of electric energy use.

Find out more on the School of Electrical and computer engineering facilities page.

Spatial Engineering Research Centre (SERC)

SERC has a range of hardware and platforms available to facilitate its research projects and services. SERC resources encompass both in-house developed equipment and processing software and an array of leading geospatial related products from around the world.

  • Global navigation satellite system
  • Inertial measurement unit
  • Imaging Devices
  • Hardware Simulations
  • Thermal imaging cameras
  • Precise time data logger
  • Aerial mapping package
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)
  • Fixed wing aircraft
  • Helicopters
  • Other vehicles

Find out more on the SERC resources page.

The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology

The MacDiarmid Institute has scientific equipement at its partner institutes in Christchurch, Dunedin, Palmerston North and Wellington including:

  • Time Resolved Raman Experiment 
  • UV Tuneable Laser Source 
  • BlueFern Super Computer Facility 
  • SC1000B Gatan Digital Camera for Transmission Electron Microscope 
  • Quantum Design PPMS with Evercool Dewar 
  • Quantum Design Helium Recycler for SQUID Magnetometer 
  • Ultra-High-Vacuum Deposition System 
  • Low Temperature ‘Mini-lab’ with Closed Cycle Cryostat 
  • Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS) 
  • Cryo-attachment for Scanning Electron Microscope
  • Electron Beam Annealer for UHV Triple Beam Line System 
  • Nano-particle Size Analyser, Zetasizer and Vibrating Blade Viscometer 
  • Luminescence Spectrometer 
  • Hyperpolarisation Instrument 
  • GREAT60 Amplifiers and Controllers 
  • Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer 
  • Optical Tweezers 
  • Rigaku Spider X-ray Diffractometer 
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) Instrument
  • Eco Chemie Autolab Potentiostat with Low Current Module 
  • WRC Mössbauer Spectroscopy System

See the MacDiarmid Institute facilities page for more information.