Meet Jeffrey Elloian: Electrical Engineering PhD Student

Nanotech NYC sits down with students, faculty and researchers from across the city to give those interested a glimpse into the local nanotechnology scene. Today we sit down with Jeffrey Elloian, a 4th year PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University.

Jeffrey Elloian. Electrical Engineering Graduate Student at Columbia University

Tell us a little bit about where you are from.

I am from a suburb of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is a quiet New England town right outside of a small city.


Where did you complete your undergraduate and any graduate degrees prior to this one?

I completed both my Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in Electrical and Computer engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, located in Worcester, Massachusetts.


Where are you in your graduate program?

I am currently in my 4th year of my Ph. D. Program at Columbia University and I hope to graduate within the next 2 years.


What group are you in and what is your particular research on?

I am in Prof. Kenneth Shepard’s Bioelectronic Systems group.  Our lab works on a variety of biomedical applications for integrated circuits and electronic devices. Specifically, I am developing a type of flexible ultrasound phased array. (https://www.bioee.ee.columbia.edu/).  Although my original background was in antenna theory, much of my current work involves using microfabrication techniques to create these arrays.  Due to the temperature limitations of the sensitive piezoelectric materials, I need to find creative ways to adapt traditional methods in my processes.


The Jeff at the one of the many testing benches in the Sheppard Lab, where he evaluates iterations of his devices.

Can you tell me about some potential future applications for your work?

A flexible ultrasound array would allow more comfortable scanning for diagnostic imaging.  The human body does not have rigid, flat surfaces, and each person has a different body shape.  A flexible transducer allows one to use a single probe to adapt to different contours. Moreover, it enables long term monitoring with patch applications.  The fabrication techniques that I am working on will allow others to use piezoelectrics materials that are currently prohibitively difficult to work with.


How did you figure out you wanted to specialize in this area?

My previous background was in antenna theory, which lent itself to an understanding of acoustics and phased arrays. I enjoyed building practical devices and test setups, but coming to Columbia gave me my first experience in a cleanroom.


What does your lab work look like?

I split my time between fabricating devices in the cleanroom and lab work with our laser system and testing equipment.

The PG IX-255 laser ablation system Jeff uses to pattern and cut his samples at various points in his fabrication. The system is a 193nm excimer laser, which can align and cut features down to 1um. Excimer lasers specialize in cutting materials that have poor absorption at longer, more common wavelengths.

Where do you hope to take your career in the next 5 or 10 years?

I hope to do research at a FFRDC after I graduate; however I would also like to go teach. Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) are nonprofit entities sponsored and funded by the U.S. government to meet some special long-term research or development need which cannot be met as effectively by existing in-house or contractor resources.


Why FFRDC?

I previously spent time at MIT Lincoln Lab and MITRE Corporation and was really fascinated with the technologies they were developing. I also really enjoy the rich history these companies have in working with the US government.

Jeff splits his fabrication work between the Columbia University Cleanroom and the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center Nanofabrication Facility. Shown here fully gowned with person protection equipment (PPE) for working with strong acids and bases.

What do you do outside of the lab for fun?

Outside the lab, I am a martial artist and an avid video gamer.


What kind of martial arts and favorite gaming platform?

I’m not currently training, but I was a 2nd degree black belt in Shaolin Kenpo Karate and love teaching it. Definitely a PC gamer and mostly into RPGs.


If you could go back to the first day you started your graduate work and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?

I would definitely have told me myself to get trained in the machine shop. At first this didn’t seem to be something I would use very frequently, but testing apparatuses often need machined parts. I am fortunate to have coworkers that help me, but it would have been a useful skill to have.

Jeff fully gowned in a cleanroom suite, using a variable angle ellipsometer to characterize his deposited films.

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