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Our research spans the gap between solar cells and smart grids, supported by the NSF, QNRF, and industry partners.

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News Feed

Research team awarded US Patent for innovative shape memory allow actuated switch (SMAAS).

The REAPERlab is pleased to announced that Dr. Robert Balog (Professor and lab Director) along with Dr. Ibrahim Karaman (Professor and Department Head with the Texas A&M University Department of Materials Science and Engineering) and Mr. Moustafa Raslan (former MS Student of Interdisciplinary Engineering with the Texas A&M University) have been awarded US Patent 11,515,101 entitled “Shape memory alloy actuated switch.”

A shape-memory alloy actuated switch (SMAAS) enables the bi-stable switching between two or more electrical circuits. The disclosed SMAAS includes a substrate, one or more electrical contacts attached to the substrate for connecting to one or more electrical circuits, and one or more electrically conductive elements for selectively connecting the one or more electrical contacts. The disclosed SMAAS also includes one or more shape-memory alloy actuators attached to the substrate. The shape-memory alloy actuators are configured to move the electrically conductive element(s) and are self-heated by passing a brief current pulse through the shape-memory alloy material. The SMAAS invention discloses a retention mechanism(s) to prevent movement of the electrically conductive element(s) after actuation. Thus the SMAAS is efficient as is only requires energy to changing switch state and does not require holding current to maintain a particular switch configuration.

For Prof. Balog, this is his twenty-first US patent that he has been awarded. Most of his patents have been assigned or licensed to the industry and have already been or are currently being commercialized.

The patent assignee is Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. This patent was made possible by NPRP grant # 7-299-2-124 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Dr. Morcos Metry Promoted to Assistant Research Scientist

The REAPER lab congratulates Dr. Metry on his promotion to Assistant Research Scientist. Dr. Morcos Metry received the B.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University at Qatar, Doha, Qatar, in 2014, and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, in 2020. Since 2020, he has been a postdoctoral researcher with the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M university at Qatar. In 2022, he was a visiting researcher with the department of energy technology, Aalborg university, Aalborg, Denmark. His current research interests include power converters for solar energy, optimal control methods for power electronics, and highly reliable power electronics and power systems for renewable energy applications.

Dr. Robert Balog and M.S. student Ms. Nabila Elbeheiry publish paper on smart agriculture in IEEE Sensors Journal

Dr. Robert S. Balog and Ms. Nabila ElBeheiry have published a paper entitled “Technologies driving the shift to smart farming: A review” in the IEEE Sensors Journal.

The agriculture industry is facing numerous challenges including climate changes and encroachment of the urban environment; there is increasing interest in developing new practices to ensure a sustainable agriculture and food supply. Smart Farming (SF) is an advanced manufacturing technique that utilizes advanced information and communication technologies to improve the quantity and quality of agricultural activity. The paper curated and explored the state of the art in smart agriculture and can be used by researchers, practitioners, and other stakeholders to identify technology gap and opportunities for innovation.

Keywords for the paper include: Actuators, Automation, Internet of Things (IoT), Irrigation Systems, Data Analysis, Deep Learning, Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN), Machine Learning, Microcontrollers, Remote Monitoring, Robotics, Smart Farming, Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN).

These publications were made possible by grant # AICC02-0505-190022 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Ms. Fatima Al-Janahi and Ms. Sawsan Shukri selected as finalists and present an invited research poster at the 14th Annual QNRF UREP Competition

Masters of Science student Ms. Fatima Al-Janahi, and Ph.D. student Ms. Sawsan Shukri were selected as final contestants in the14th Annual Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) Competition. They presented their invited research poster entitled “Characterizing DC Arcs for Photovoltaic Arc Fault Detection” on October 18, 2022.

Their project developed a computer-controlled mechatronics arc generation test bed using the pull-apart method described in UL1699B. The test bed enabled to team to study the electrical characteristics of direct-current arcs using various parameter combinations including electrode material and geometry, electrical current and voltage, and the electrode separation gap profile. The analysis of the results can be help researchers to identify key distinguishing features of the arc that can be used to design a reliable arc detector. The methods developed in this project have been adopted and are in use by industry.

This project was made possible by QNRF grant # UREP24-023-2-010 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of the Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Ph.D. Final Examination: Dr. Aaqib Peerzada

The REAPER lab congratulates Dr. Aaqib Peerzada for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation, related to modelling and statistical methods for distributed energy resource into the electrical power grid. Dr. Peerzada was an affiliate of the REAPERlab and was in-residence at both the TAMU College Station and TAMU Qatar locations. His relevant research focused on power quality at the grid edge and the impact of a D-STATCOM on the operation of the power distribution systems. His Ph.D. adviser and committee chair is Dr. Miroslav Begovic and Dr. Balog served as his co-adviser.

Dr. Peerzada received the B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar India, in 2011 and the M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University at College Station, TX USA in 2018.

The REAPER lab congratulates undergraduate students Ms. Maria Khan and Ms. Swati Singh on the publication of their Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) thesis.

The REAPERlab congratulates undergraduate students Ms. Maria Khan and Ms. Swati Singh on the publication of their Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) undergraduate honors research thesis entitled “I-V Curve Tracer Communication Protocol.”

Their research pertains to experimentally measuring the current vs. voltage characteristic curve of photovoltaic cells, modules, or even arrays. They developed a communication protocol for an i-v curve tracer and addressed the challenge of a scalable, low latency communication between the Pi-Arduino-Relay interface by significantly reducing the packet size of the transmitted data and eliminating the need for bloated and slow IoT platforms.

Their thesis can be found at the following URL: https://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/196546


The REAPER lab welcomes Dr. İBRAHİM GÜNEŞ as a Visiting Scholar (Post Doctoral Fellow). Dr. GÜNEŞ received his B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Istanbul University in 1999, 2005, and 2010 respectively. Currently he is an Associate Professor in the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department at Istanbul University – Cerrahpaşa in Istanbul, Turkiye, where he has been a faculty member since 2001. He was an Adjunct Faculty in Arizona State University, 2007-2008, performing research on insulation materials in high voltage applications.

His current research interests include power electronics for renewable energy systems including photovoltaic systems, energy efficiency applications, economics of energy, power generations transmission and distribution, high voltage techniques, mechanics of power transmission lines, energy management, finite element methods (FEM).

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