Most of us have heard the adages "work smarter, not harder" or "be quick, but don't hurry." 

That will be easier for anyone on campus needing high-powered computing for research, a better view of the next solar eclipse or laser power for autonomous systems.

"UD is among fewer than 100 universities in the nation with this type of capability. In Ohio, only UD, Ohio State, Case Western and the University of Cincinnati have these networks.

This comes thanks to a $250,000 Air Force grant awarded to the Intelligent Optics Laboratory, located in the Department of Electro-optics and Photonics, and Director Mikhail Vorontsov for his work to improve atmospheric optical systems for laser communications, LIDAR (radar using laser beams), imaging, laser beam projection and power delivery systems.

Vorontsov's group worked with PSSC Labs, a developer of custom high-performance computing and big data computing solutions, to install a cluster of 780 processing cores and four state-of-the-art graphics processing units.

"Lasers can be used to transmit all sorts of data, including high-definition images, and power various remote systems. Our lab looks at how atmospheric turbulence, clouds and other weather conditions cause the degradation or loss of data, and power transmission efficiency," Vorontsov said. "Then, we try to find ways to mitigate those effects and build better optical systems."

Vorontsov's group has studied laser beam propagation over the 4.34 miles from the University's Fitz Hall to the Dayton VA Medical Center and the 92 miles between two Hawaiian islands. He also is interested in examining laser communication links between ground stations and satellites and between low-orbit satellites. These high-performance links will eventually replace conventional radio frequency-based communication technology.

But these high-performance computational capabilities aren't just for researchers in the Intelligent Optics Lab. Anyone on campus is welcome to use the computer cluster to support their research activities, according to Vorontsov.

The cluster is part of UDsciNet, a 10-gigabyte high-performance data network that provides unimpeded connections to researchers around the nation. UDsciNet, upgraded with a quarter-million-dollar National Science Foundation grant, also allows researchers to remotely access and control instruments like electron microscopes at the Ohio State Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis. 

"UDsciNet connects to the global ‘Internet 2’ research network, thereby facilitating UD's high-performance computing/research relationships beyond our campus. All researchers can better share data regardless of its size or complexity. What used to take days, now takes minutes," said Tom Skill, the University's CIO. "This upgrade is the type of support a good research university needs. Building and sustaining a network of this caliber is an important component in advancing a vision for a far-reaching research infrastructure. These investments show current and future faculty we are serious about supporting their research needs.”

 “These high-performance research networks only exist on NSF-funded campuses,” Skill added. “UD is among fewer than 100 universities in the nation with this type of capability. In Ohio, only UD, Ohio State, Case Western and the University of Cincinnati have these networks." 

Other examples of how faculty intend to use the system include:

  •  Umesh Haritashya, geology professor, is using the network to access and analyze massive data files of high-resolution satellite imagery from NASA and others to study geohazards such as earthquake-induced landslides and river blockages.
  •  Andrew Sarangan, electro-optics professor, will work with Sinclair Community College through the network to develop new ways of learning in STEM fields, including nanotechnology.
  •  Vijay Asari, Ohio Research Scholars Chair in Wide Area Surveillance and Vision Lab director, will use the network with Central State University to send, receive and store tremendous amounts of data for their work in sensors, imaging, automatic scene analysis and three-dimensional movement analysis.
  •  Shuang-Ye Wu, associate professor of geology, will analyze massive data sets involving climate change and precipitation models through the remote use of the Ohio Supercomputer Center.
  •  Charles Browning, chair of the chemical and materials engineering department, will access Ohio State's Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis.