Fink and Professor Lichty work to create linear phased arrays from cell phones

Selecting a research topic for the 2016 Cornell Summer Research Institute was a team effort for Simon Fink ’17 and Professor Lyle Lichty.

“I thought of a few different projects, and I actually gave Simon the choice – you can look at this one, this one, or this one – you choose what’s more exciting,” Professor Lichty said.

“This is the one that I picked because I thought it would be the most interesting,” Fink said. “So in a way, the research came about from both of our ideas – what both of us found interesting.”

The project involves a lot of cellphones and a lot of computer time.

“My research this year was mostly on creating linear phased arrays from cell phones,” Fink said.

“Part of what got me started on this was I noticed Rockwell Collins was one of several companies that’s involved in improving phased arrays for radar use. A phased array is just a bunch of emitters, and they put out signals at the right time.  So they can point it in any direction, as opposed to having to turn an antenna. So it’s really pointing radar in different directions.”

But instead of pointing radar, this project attempted to direct sound waves using a number of cell phones.  The research is a true expression of the liberal arts–mixing techniques used in engineering, physics, and computer science.

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