Student Profile: Pasindu Aluthwala
Where are you from and where did you complete your prior studies?
I was born in Sri Lanka, and I completed my secondary education in Sri Lanka. In 2009 I moved to Adelaide, SA, Australia, to pursue undergraduate studies. I had been awarded a full tuition fee scholarship from the University of Adelaide. In 2012 I received the B.E. degree in electrical and electronic engineering with a University Medal from the University of Adelaide.
Why did you choose to enrol at UNSW?
I wanted to conduct postgraduate research in the field of analog/mixed-signal integrated circuit (IC) design. I knew that there are not many institutions in Australia with the expertise and resources to conduct research in the field of IC design, and that UNSW is the best among them. After conversing with Prof. Sri Parameswaran, who is my Ph.D. supervisor now, I was convinced that at UNSW I would have access to the resources as well as both academic and industrial expertise required to conduct a successful IC design research project.
A further incentive for choosing UNSW was the UNSW Research Excellence Award, which was offered to postgraduate research applicants who were University Medallists or the first in their overall cohort.
What is your research about and why are you excited about your project?
My research is about developing integrated analog signal synthesizer circuits. Let me elaborate a bit on that. Chances are that at some point in your school or university life you have seen a bulky analog signal synthesizer, which is a necessary equipment in an electronic lab. My research aims at miniaturising such analog signal synthesizers to fit into an integrated circuit.
The main reason why I am excited about my project is that I have been fascinated by the field of IC design since the early days of my undergraduate degree. My research project has allowed me to get hands-on experience in the complete process of developing ICs, from conception, to design, to simulation, to physical verification, to fabrication, to testing, and finally to analysing and presenting measured test results. Recently, I successfully completed the development of my first IC prototype. The IC was fabricated using a 130 nm CMOS semiconductor process, and contained around 50,000 circuit elements within a silicon area of 1 square milimeter.
Another reason which excites me is that I am contributing to the revival of a 47 year old concept through this project. During the early days of the research project I came up with the signal synthesis technique that is at the core of the integrated analog signal synthesizers I am developing. I found out later that I had been almost five decades late. However, for some reason this particular signal synthesis technique had not gained much popularity since it was first published in 1969. With our project we are using modern circuit design concepts to enhance the hardware cost efficiency of integrated analog signal synthesizers which utilise this analog signal synthesis technique.
What do you like to do outside of research and academics?
My time away from IC design is spent relaxing with my family and friends, playing cricket, reading, and doing a bit of amateur photography.
What are your career goals and future plans?
Currently I am an IC Design Engineer with the WiFi radio team at Broadcom Ltd, Sydney, Australia. My career goal for the foreseeable future is to improve my IC design skills and experience while contributing to the development of Broadcom's world-leading WiFi products.
What advise do you have for prospective students interested in applying for a research degree at UNSW (or CSE)?
I would encourage prospective students to enrol at UNSW for a research degree. UNSW has an excellent environment for postgraduate research, where you will find the resources to conduct your research, as well as the opportunity to interact with experts in your field who can help guide your research.