CAREER: Optimal Operation and Control of Multiscale Process Systems

Project: Research project

Project Details



PI: Antonios Armaou

Institution: Pennsylvania State University

Proposal Number: 0644519

Title: CAREER: Optimal Operation and Control of Multiscale Process Systems

Intellectual merit

Precise regulation of the microstructure of key industrial products, such as thin films with specific surface morphology and biological crystals with specific shape, is currently an important yet unresolved research problem with broad industrial implications. Regulation of microscopic product properties within tight limits requires the development and implementation of computationally-efficient model-based optimal operation and control policies on the processes that make the specific product. Fundamental mathematical models that link microscopic product properties to macroscopic process variables that can be automatically regulated are usually referred to as multiscale process systems and their solution has very high computational requirements. Computationally-efficient techniques for calculating high-performance operation and control policies should utilize highly-accurate, yet computationally tractable approximations of multiscale process systems. Motivated by this, the objective of this research is to resolve the fundamental issues associated with the development of computationally-efficient techniques for computing optimal operation and control policies for multiscale process systems which will allow setting product microstructure within certain stringent confidence limits. To achieve this objective, a number of specific projects are planned including: a) development of computationally-efficient algorithms for optimization and optimal operation of multiscale process systems using a variety of microscopic/multiscale objectives, b) development of nonlinear, low-order, approximate models of multiscale process systems and construction of practically-implementable feedback control systems that can deal with the issues of nonlinearity, model uncertainty and constraints, c) application of the optimal operation and control methods to micro- electronics manufacturing processes (in particular, metal-organic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE) of GaN thin films widely used for the production of green/blue lasers), and d) integration of the= research results into education. In addition to computationally-efficient methods for optimal operation and control of multiscale systems, the research will provide fundamental insight into the nature of the optimization and control problems for multiscale process systems and address practical implementation issues.

Broader Impact:

There is a wide range of industrial processes and products that will benefit from the results of the

research including microelectronics manufacturing/advanced materials processes such as vapor phase epitaxy, chemical vapor deposition and etching, where film microstructure is an important product quality variable. To transfer the results and insight of the proposed research to the industrial sector and pursue future experimental implementation, the PI will also actively seek collaborations with industry and experimental faculty at Penn State. Finally, a number of activities are planned to integrate the proposed research with education, including incorporation of research results in the advanced transport phenomena and control courses, undergraduate student participation in the research through the honors program, and the development of a

LEGO Mindstorms laboratory to facilitate outreach to high-school and college students from under-represented groups.

Effective start/end date11/1/0610/31/13


  • National Science Foundation: $402,817.00


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