Institute of Electronics, Computer and Telecommunication Engineering (IEIIT)

Research activities

The activities of the Institute are organized into six Research Groups whose researchers belong to different IEIIT sites and work in tight connection thanks to the modern communication technologies. Moreover, the research activity of the Institute and the specific interest in the technological transfer allowed the establishment of three small enterprises (CNR spin-offs).

1 - Applied Electromagnetics and Electronic Devices (Torino, Bologna, Milano, Pisa)
In the ICT area, microwave, millimeter-wave, optical and electronic devices and systems play a fundamental role in the definition of novel solutions that enhance the existing applications and support the development of new ones. The applications concern satellite communications, wireless links, optical communications, remote sensing, scientific observations and industrial applications. The activities cover both theoretical and experimental aspects ranging from electromagnetics area to photonics and electronics. The theoretical activities concern the study of problems related to the design of novel devices and sub-systems by means of mathematical models based on integral and differential formulations. In particular, in the microwave and millimeter-wave fields, the development of simulation codes for a large class of waveguide components and open structures is an intensive activity. They are based on distributed parameter models, spectral methods, and reduced order methods. Furthermore, various models for the studies of the troposphere propagation are also developed. As for photonic research, several studies are tackled for the analysis and design of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), whereas, as far as electronics is concerned, the modeling studies focus on the design of novel micro and nano-electronic devices, power electronic converters, microwave amplifiers, integrated sensors and MEMS.
The research unit utilizes several experimental facilities: a microwave laboratory equipped up to 110 GHz, a mechanical workshop, an open antenna test range based on UAV, an experimental station for the propagation studies, and an electronic technology laboratory equipped with a scanning electron microscope adapted to e-beam lithography and various thin film deposition systems.
Significant effort is devoted to the design, manufacturing and characterization of novel microwave, photonic and electronic devices and systems. In the framework of several industrial cooperations, the research team covers all those aspects for a successful realization of various high-performance prototypes such as antennas, microwave and millimeter-wave, waveguide components and sub-systems, polarization stable VCSELs, integrated electronic sensors and active devices.

2 - Computer Engineering & Networks (Torino, Padova)
The Computer Engineering & Networks (CE&N) group is active in several areas of industrial ICT and focuses, in particular, on industrial communications, techniques and tools for cyber-security and real-time and embedded systems, as briefly summarized below.
Industrial Communications:
One key to success in modern enterprises is the ability to integrate all production activities effectively and inexpensively. The adoption of digital communications in factory automation environments dates back to the 1980s with the introduction of fieldbuses. However, the convergence towards fully integrated systems, with pervasive adoption of ICT solutions, started more recently. Technologies such as industrial Ethernet and wireless networks are deeply changing the way manufacturing and automation were conceived, with unprecedented degrees of flexibility, scalability and availability.
Techniques and Tools for Industrial Cyber-security:
Industrial plants and critical infrastructures have moved from isolation and closed/proprietary communication solutions, typical of the past, to more open, flexible and cheaper standard communication technologies. This migration, however, also exposes industrial networks to the same security threats that are experienced by traditional computer systems. CE&N group analysis techniques and automated software tools help in modeling the system, evaluating the effectiveness of the approach with respect to the functional requirements and security goals and, consequently, coping with possible security weaknesses.
Real-time and Embedded Systems:
The adoption of real-time operating systems (RTOS) for embedded application development is becoming increasingly important nowadays, to integrate a large set of heterogeneous and reusable software modules into a single computing system with as little effort as possible. Advantages of this trend in terms of software flexibility, reliability and reusability are clear but, until recently, they have been hindered by the high cost and hardware requirements of RTOS. With the advent of open-source software and the improvement of microcontrollers this is no longer an issue, though a considerable amount of expertise is still needed to perform a sound design.

3 - Engineering for Health and Wellbeing (Torino, Genova, Milano, Padova)
The Engineering for Health and Wellbeing group applies technologies and engineering methods to improve the knowledge on biological systems and health sciences and to understand issue of biomedical interests, developing solutions, to promote health and well being. These activities are on based on a multidisciplinary and multi-scale approach, addressing issues at the molecular and cellular scales up to those ones of complex living systems, to improve diagnosis and therapy, to develop and optimize new biomedical devices, to support to health systems and services. This wide research area is divided into the sub-categories as described below.
Cognitive Systems:
modeling of mechanisms involved in processes of communication, adaptation, learning and growing up in order to develop architectures for caregiver robots with adaptable and intelligent behavior with acceptable human robot interfaces using also natural language processing.
Computer Vision:
development of image and signal processing algorithms and their application in medicine and in industrial inspection and quality control. The problem of the real-time pose estimation and tracking of (parts of) the human body is addressed: methodologies for articulated hand and limbs tracking are developed by using depth cameras and/or Body Sensor Networks. Real-time tracking of hands and limbs makes the development of tools possible for both rehabilitation and remote monitoring of elder people and patients suffering from various traumatic and/or neurodegenerative diseases, and for the study of a new type of human computer interface in automatic sign language recognition.
EMF for Health:
to expand the scientific and technological basis of the safe and beneficial applications of electromagnetic energy (EMF). Based on three pillars of EMF applications: medical (EMF MED), for a safe environment (EMF SAFE) and for health risk assessment (EMF RISK). EMF MED: study of EMF biomedical applications and design and optimization of novel diagnostics, therapeutics tools and medical devices. EMF SAFE: EMF exposure assessment by computational techniques on healthy subjects and EMF personal exposure measurements. EMF RISK: establishment of health risk assessment procedures related to the exposure of population to EMF fields.
application of knowledge from engineering, e-Health/ICT, and computational modelling for biomedical applications, particularly for hearing sciences. Main research topics are: Natural Language Processing (NLP) approaches for information extraction and information retrieval in unstructured clinical notes; ontologies for editing and processing medical information in clinical notes; development of models for the description and technical evaluation of apps for mobile-health; development of smart technological solutions for innovative and personalized hearing systems; development of ad hoc methods for remote and home-based self-assessment of auditory function; computational models of auditory perception and auditory processing in aging, neurodegeneration, and cognitive disorders.
Physiological Modeling:
practical and methodological aspects of mathematical modeling of dynamic biological and physiological processes. The aim is to represent knowledge and validate hypotheses about biological functions by simulating their expected behavior under different experimental conditions and by matching them to experimental data. Methodological aspects include structured model representation, simulation, optimization, parameter estimation and experiment design.
design of assistive service robots able to provide assistance to human's daily life, operating semi - or fully - autonomously to perform tasks in unstructured environment. Moreover, the increasing availability of networks expands the possibilities of Internet and Network Robotics to the new field of Cloud Robotics. Another line of research is Educational Robotics. It is accounted for by the necessity to prepare and educate our citizenship on the coming robotics revolution that is going to affect our society deeply and dramatically. A consequent, interdisciplinary field in which the group is involved is Roboethics, that deals with the Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues in Advanced Robotics.
Tissue Engineering:
modeling, design and development of new intelligent and bioactive materials, which replace non-functional natural tissues (as a result of trauma or tumor surgery). To this aim, the group is also actively interested to design and realize innovative bioreactor systems for culturing living tissues by recapitulating physiological microenvironments. The investigation of fundamental aspects of cell response and tissue adaptation under controlled and defined stimuli is also carried out.

4 - Network Security (Genova)
The group deals with network and systems security aspects, analyzing both threats and mitigation technologies.In particular, during our research activities we study various areas in the security field: analysis of infective tools (such as malware, virus or trojan horses), Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems, Wireless security, penetration testing, forensics techniques, Denial of Service attacks, data exfiltration techniques. The aim is to identify how such attacks work, in order to provide innovative mitigation methodologies.
The group also accomplishes network management operations on the CNR ARiGe network, providing users a wide range of services, such as email, DNS, web hosting, antispam services, wired and wireless Internet connectivity, backup management, network monitor and firewall and network devices management. Finally, this knowledge is shared trough technological transfer actions, dedicated to small and medium businesses related to computer security field. In particular, one of the most important goals achieved is Cleis Security s.r.l., CNR spin-off between IEIIT researchers and a SME.

5 - System Modeling and Control (Torino, Milano, Genova, Padova)
The System Modeling and Control (SMC) group of IEIIT gathers researchers active in the fields of system analysis and design of control techniques aimed at achieving desired targets. Particular attention is devoted to the possibility of forecasting and driving the evolution of complex and uncertain systems, both with stochastic identification and control techniques and through innovative machine learning methods capable of describing the system behavior via intelligible rule models.
The intrinsic generality of considered issues allows a widespread application of obtained results; in fact, modeling and control techniques are currently employed in all the sectors of everyday life, even if in most situations users are not aware of their presence. The progress of technology makes these techniques even more important since they allow achieving targets so far reputed unattainable, in terms of life quality improvement, while optimizing resource utilization and reducing non-recyclable waste.
Currently considered application fields include classical engineering branches, such as aerospace, chemical, electrical and mechanical, together with new areas of research, which comprise economics, biomedical systems, social sciences and telecommunication networks. In particular, the ever closer interconnection between systems requires the design and implementation of distributed solutions capable of taking into account both the peculiarities of each single component and the characteristics of the global network.
The group is carrying on international research activities in cooperation with academic institutions distributed worldwide, such as University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University of California at Irvine, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Toulouse, UNAM in Mexico City, University of Hull in UK, and it is involved in major Italian and European projects. Researchers of the SCT group hold key positions in the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Control Systems Society and IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control) and in their journals and conferences.

6 - Wireless Communication Systems (Torino, Bologna, Milano)
The Wireless Communication Systems group carries out research on a wide range of topics in the field of mobile communications, covering all layers of the protocol stack. The group develops novel solutions for wireless channel modeling and coding, digital signal processing, cognitive and software-defined radio, medium access control, scheduling, routing, localization and detection, traffic analysis and profiling, and resource management at all network levels.
Such activities make use of a full-fledged array of expertise, covering diverse methodologies based on theory, simulation/emulation, and experimental evaluation. Specifically, the members of the Wireless Communication Systems group have strong competences in information and coding theory, statistical signal processing, graph theory, stochastic geometry, networking, traffic analysis, probabilistic learning, knowledge discovery, and optimization. The group manages research laboratories dedicated to the development, investigation and evaluation of software-defined radio and internet of things (IoT) systems in Bologna and Milan.
The research activities above find applications in a number of contexts, including beyond-5G cellular networks, machine-type communication and sensing for IoT systems, future-generation broadcast and local area networks, connected and autonomous intelligent transportation systems, radio-localization and context recognition for future generation industrial automation systems, cloud networks, body area networks, and opportunistic communications.
The group is located in the IEIIT premises of Bologna, Milan, and Turin. It actively participates in research projects at European and national levels, and entertains collaborations with major industrial and academic partners worldwide, including Orange, ESA, IMDEA Networks, Pepperl+Fuchs, Nokia, Micron, Inria, and Korea Electronics Technology Institute.