Trevor Lee Rei

Intern - Trevor Lee
Q: Share something about yourself.

Hello, I am Trevor Lee. I am an incoming Year Three student at the University of Cambridge, specialising in electrical engineering. My upcoming core modules include subjects such as semiconductor engineering and photonic technology, both of which I have had to study in detail for this internship.

My internship journey with A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) was from July – September 2022.

Q: Tell us about what you do at IHPC?

I mainly ran simulations to determine the performance of photodetectors, which are an important component of photonic devices as they would allow us to convert light into a clean, decipherable electrical signal. This also allowed us to exploit the element of light speed information transfer, while integrating it with the rest of our electronic devices such as our phones and computers. 

The photodetectors that I studied involve the detection of infrared radiation and visible light, with the former having a greater emphasis on fields such as high-speed communication while the latter involves fields such as LIDAR.

During my internship at IHPC, I worked on a research problem to further understand and optimise the design of photodetectors for commercial use, namely by increasing their responsivity (photocurrent to optical exposure ratio), for example, a more powerful signal would be generated for a smaller amount of optical exposure, thereby making the device more sensitive and thus more effective.

To do this, we implemented schemes such as distributed Bragg reflectors and changed the absorption lengths in the simulations for different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. The simulation then gathered data on key performance metrics such as transmission and absorption of power, by varying multiple key parameters. This method of gathering data is known as the Design of Experiment (DOE) study. 

Since changing simulation parameters such as length by hand would take a long time, I had to modify the script for the simulation to run automatically.  Using the data that I have gathered, I was tasked to process and present the information graphically using a Python script, where we represented two dependent variables and one independent variable with a heat map. 

After explaining the science and analysing processed data, I also had the opportunity to derive and share conclusions with my supervisor – Dr Jason Png? during our meetings. The DOE study has allowed us to quickly observe and pinpoint the sweet spot of input parameters for the best performance.

In addition, I also touched on the literature review. I believe it is important to go through many scientific papers to hone my understanding of certain topics or to learn about various designs and experiments conducted to test their performance. 

Q: What/Who is your inspiration in life?

My inspiration is the astounding exponential rate of technological growth, and how these technologies have, to quote Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, and co-founder of the String Field Theory, “disappeared into the fabrics of our lives”. Our smartphones are essentially pocket-sized supercomputers - nowadays, phone calling is simply one of the many features a phone possesses.

I therefore looking forward to learning the genius that goes behind such designs and contribute to this ever-growing field with my own research and designs. 

Q: Describe a typical work week.

I would usually start off the week by preparing a slide deck for my weekly internship meeting to summarise the tasks that I had completed over the past week in terms of simulations, data, literature review and deliverables. I aimed to make these slides as comprehensive as possible so that they could serve as a reference for myself or even for future student interns. 

I would spend the rest of my week conducting primarily simulations and coding. Simulations are essentially the “experimental” side of IHPC. While having to generate physical experiments is manual, costly and time-consuming, virtual simulations are an effective way of dictating an experiment’s outcomes before actually conducting it.

Internship - Trevor Lee
From L to R: Dr Thomas Ang, Scientist, Trevor and Dr Jason Png, Director of
Electronics & Photonics department 

Q: How has this internship benefits you?

My internship at IHPC has certainly provided me with practical experience, namely being able to run simulations using a coded script, and to import, analyse and effectively present data using a separate Python code. 

I also learnt a lot from my 2 supervisors, Dr Jason Png, Director and Dr Thomas Ang, Scientist from the Electronics & Photonics department, where they both specialise in electrical engineering, particularly in the field of photonics. They would be the ones I would approach for advice if I ever aim to specialise in photonics or require an academic reference in the future.

Through the regular preparations for my presentations at regular meetings, I have also acquired the ability to improvise when necessary and convey information effectively.

Prior to this internship, I read ahead of the syllabus to prepare myself for the projects and literature review. I am certain that the scientific knowledge acquired during my internship will be applicable and useful for my upcoming third year course in university.