Aydin Babakhani | Rice University
Advanced Sensors for Subsurface Use
From Miniaturized Spectrometers to Smart Electronic Proppants"
Today's silicon process technology makes it possible to integrate everything from antennas to processors on a single chip at almost no cost. This creates new opportunities for implementing complex sensors and systems on a millimeter scale and brings an unprecedented level of sensing to the oil & gas industry. To create such devices, an understanding of physics, waves, electromagnetics, and high-frequency electronics is essential. In this presentation, I will show how the convergence of these fields has resulted in a miniaturized Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectrometer for online monitoring of asphaltenes (a chemical that clogs oil wells). The EPR sensor technology developed in my laboratory has been successfully deployed in major oil and gas fields in the United States and Canada. This technology is used to monitor the concentration of asphaltenes in real-time and to minimize the use of environmentally hazardous chemical inhibitors in energy production.
In addition to the EPR technology, I will present a miniaturized THz spectrometer for detecting polar gas molecules such as H2S and CO2. This technology is based on the technique of direct Digital-to-Impulse (D2I) radiation invented in my laboratory. The D2I technology enables us to produce high SNR signals up to 1.1THz, for the first time. In addition to gas spectroscopy, the D2I technology is used to produce high-resolution THz images of cores extracted from deep underground locations (10,000ft depth). Finally, I will discuss my research on proppant-sized microchips for harvesting electromagnetic energy and performing sensing in previously impossible locations including the fractures in a reservoir and the cement behind a well casing.
Dr. Babakhani is a Louis Owen Junior Chair Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Rice University and the director of Rice Integrated Systems and Circuits Laboratory. He received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Sharif University of Technology in 2003 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Caltech in 2005 and 2008, respectively. He was a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech in 2009 and a research scientist at IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in 2010. Dr. Babakhani has been awarded multiple best paper awards, including the Best Paper Award at the IEEE SiRF conference in 2016, the Best Paper Award at the IEEE RWS Symposium in 2015, the Best Paper Award at the IEEE IMS Symposium in 2014, and the 2nd-place in the Best Paper Awards at the IEEE APS Symposium 2016 and IEEE IMS Symposium 2016. He has published more than 85 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings as well as 21 issued or pending patents. His research is supported by NSF, DARPA, AFOSR, ONR, the W. M. Keck Foundation, SRC, and more than 10 companies. He received a prestigious NSF CAREER award in 2015, an Innovation Award from Northrop Grumman in 2014, and a DARPA Young Faculty Award in 2012. He also received the Caltech Electrical Engineering Department's Charles Wilts Best PhD Thesis Prize for his work titled “Near-Field Direct Antenna Modulation.” He was the recipient of the Microwave Graduate Fellowship in 2007, the Grand Prize in the Stanford-Berkeley-Caltech Innovators Challenge in 2006, the Analog Devices Inc. Outstanding Student Designer Award in 2005, as well as a Caltech Special Institute Fellowship and an Atwood Fellowship in 2003. He was also the Gold Medal winner at both the National Physics Competition in 1998 and the 30th International Physics Olympiad in Padova, Italy, in 1999.