Lee Center for Advanced Networking

The purpose of the Lee Center for Advanced Networking is create a global communication system that is reliable and robust. Current wireless communication systems are plagued by static and lost connections. But Lee researchers envision a global system as reliable as a basic utility—like tap water, sewage or natural gas—which consumers will take for granted. The skeleton of this new global communication system will consist of a combination of wireless radio frequencies and high-speed fiber-optic cable.

The Lee Center is the brainchild of Caltech graduate and venture capitalist David Lee, whose David and Ellen Lee Foundation donated $10 million to establish a center for networking research and fund it for ten years. Rather than fund a specific single program, Lee intends the Center’s researchers to have free rein to “start a lot of little projects.”

The emphasis at the Lee Center is wireless communication—exchanging information by means of radio waves. Wireless communication presents challenges in modeling and protocols, circuits and coding, transmitting and receiving, and antennas. All these areas benefit from intensive collaborations among researchers. To facilitate such collaborations, the Lee Center holds regular seminars and workshops to exchange ideas.

The Center’s work is already paying dividends. A number of Caltech faculty and graduate students are using the research conducted at the Lee Center in five start-up companies—Mani Chandy’s iSpheres; Ali Hajimiri’s Axiom Micro-devices; Kerry Vahala’s Xponent Photonics; Wavestream Wireless, founded by graduate students Mike Delisio, Chad Deckman, and Lawrence Cheung; and Steve Low's FastSoft.

In addition to funding research projects, the Lee Center has also helped build wireless networks on campus—in the Moore Laboratory, the Fairchild Library, Beckman Auditorium, the Powell-Booth, the Jorgenson Laboratories, and the Red Door Café, where people can drink their morning coffee while surfing the net.

Kerry J. Vahala
Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Professor of Applied Physics
Director, Lee Center for Advanced Networking