Thomas Johann Seebeck Department of Electronics celebrates its 60th anniversary on September 1. Over the years, the researchers of the department, which received several patents, have been involved in the development of industrial electronics, test and measurement solutions, including electrical impedance and bioimpedance methods, and semiconductor research. Today, the focus of research is, among other things, broadband and 5G communication network solutions.
Associate professor Paul Plakk, who started working as the head of the electronics department in 1962, is considered to be the founder of the research and teaching of the department named after Thomas Johann Seebeck, a physicist and discoverer of thermoelectricity. The department’s senior researcher Olev Märtens is planning to publish a longer publication about him and the history of the department, where, in addition to the memories of other colleagues, it will be known that associate professor Plakk was already involved in the development of measuring devices as a student in the late 1930s. Initially, he worked on it for physical chemistry applications, and in 1952 he defended his candidate's thesis on the measurement of peat moisture.
These measuring devices are related to the measurement of impedance (electrical resistance to alternating current) and these solutions have been further developed by Professor Mart Min and his colleagues. Applications based on the measurement of electrical impedance and bioimpedance can be found, for example, in heart pacemakers or measurement techniques that can be used to identify and study particles in liquids, solutions and gases, as well as analyze human circulation or prove the authenticity of metal coins.
Semiconductor research led by Enn Velmre, Andres Udal and Toomas Rang has been an important field at the department. In 1973, in cooperation with the Scientific Research Institute of Electrical Engineering, the parameters of the power semiconductor devices produced in Estonia were improved and new devices based on GaA were characterized. A unique analytical-numerical model was created for this purpose in the Department of Electronics.
Semiconductor electronics is further dealt with in the research group of the Research Laboratory for Cognitronics (Professor Yannick Le Moullec and others), where methods and techniques for miniaturized actuators and sensor technologies resource-constrained implementation of wireless connectivity technologies are developed.
According to Laur Lemendik, director of the Department of Electronics, the importance of the department celebrating its jubilee cannot be overestimated. "We understand our responsibility to society, because neither the green nor the digital revolution can be implemented without electronics and communication, and we believe that in cooperation with colleagues and students we can make an important contribution," said Lemendik.
Today, the department has achieved success and recognition in the research and development of 5G mobile communication solutions, among which is the major project of the European Horizon program 5G Routes, where various modes of transport are studied under the leadership of Professor Muhammad Mahtab Alam. Intelligent transport systems (including self-driving cars, smart roads, etc.) are not feasible without reliable 5G mobile communication services, but in order to specify the requirements for the infrastructure, it is necessary to carry out thorough research and tests.
However, the goal of the research and development project 5G Timber, which started this year and involves several industrial and academic parties, is to reduce the waste generated in the wood industry, specifically in the wooden house industry, and to optimize production processes in both the wooden house industry and the sawmill industry. Soon, the focus of the department’s research work will shift from 5G communication networks to the next generation of mobile communication, 6G.
The teaching work carried out at the department is rapidly developing both in the field of electronics and telecommunications. The field of electronics has been added to the program of the Academy of Engineering, and for the 2023 admission, master's programs that better meet the expectations of the labor market are being developed. The undergraduate study program "Hardware development and programming" that was opened a few years ago continues to be successful this year as well, where a total of 85 students came to study.
- The heads of the Department of Electronics have been: Paul Plakk (1962-1968), Otto Pikkov (1968-1978), Uljas Tamm (1978-1983), Enn Velmre (1983-1988), Mart Min (1988-1992). The directors of the Department of Electronics, established in 1992, have been Mart Min (1992–2000), Toomas Rang (2000–2018) and since 2018 – Laur Lemendik.
- Enn Velmre's comprehensive book "Thomas Johann Seebeck from Tallinn merchant son to physics classic" will be published in the autumn of this year.