Expert in the spotlight: Radislav A. Potyrailo

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10 years of news and resources for members of the IEEE Signal Processing Society

Expert in the spotlight: Radislav A. Potyrailo

In this series, we introduce a scientist, who makes use of signal processing techniques for his research findings, by means of an interview. This month, we are happy to introduce Dr. Radislav A. Potyrailo, a Principal Scientist at GE Global Research Center, whose research interests mainly focus on material characterization and chemical sensing.

What is your application that requires signal processing technologies?
My research teams deal with sensor data, especially the data from chemical and biological sensors and sometimes physical sensors. These sensors typically operate in the presence of interferences from both known and unknown sources. Some examples of interferences include temperature, chemicals and particulates in the gas phase, and different compounds in liquids. In actual applications, interference levels can be quite high, potentially causing false readings. That is why, lack of understanding and inadequate processing of the signals affected by interferences might cause unacceptably large accuracy loss in the sensor response.
We have significant experiences in advancing detection technologies for GE, DOE, AFRL, NIH, and DARPA applications (see below Figure which shows a GE resonant sensor). For example, for NIH we developed resonant electromagnetic vapor sensors and corresponding sensor readers, while for DARPA we designed bio-inspired photonic vapor sensors. In both cases, the challenges we were facing were related to complex environments at the workplace or on the battlefield that have significant levels of gaseous interferences. Typical levels of gases of interest to be detected for these and many other applications are very small and the presence of other gases may affect readings by masking the response of conventional sensors. Temperature fluctuations of the ambient environment can also negatively affect sensor response. In our projects, we critically access these and other challenges and develop signal generation and processing approaches to solve these practical problems.

In your opinion, are there any emerging applications for which signal processing technology may play an important role?
Depending upon the new directions the technology is taking, liquid phase sensors might play a very important role in chemical detection systems. For example, in medical diagnostic applications (e.g., blood analysis, bodily fluids analysis), the design of unobtrusive sensing devices with high detection sensitivity and high selectivity is of most importance. I believe that new signal processing techniques could be developed to achieve a more accurate detection. I also believe that, for example, the non-linear estimation theory can be a very attractive tool to extract clean, consistent features from noisy and contaminated sensor responses.

In your opinion, what are the most exciting new techniques in signal processing field?
For me, exciting new techniques are in (1) quantitative analysis for sensor responses in the presence of unknown interferences and (2) analysis of data from individual sensor nodes of distributed wireless sensor networks. I also see that signal processing of nonlinear responses is still often based on empirical approaches that do not provide robust enough implementations. I would like to see more tools for practical implementations with significantly improved performance reliability.

In which way have you been connected first with IEEE SPS (university, conference, etc…)?
I usually look for new results published on Transaction on Signal Processing, which help my research.

Which application fields should be more focused in IEEE SPS publications?
New approaches and methodologies on how to cope and win against the drift and interferences.

Do you have any suggestions about our e-NewsLetter?
I just learned about it and checked the current and several past issues. Very impressive range of topics – very useful for my research and general overview.

Brief biography
Dr. Radislav Potyrailo is a Principal Scientist at GE Global Research with research interests in sensors and data analytics.  He joined GE Global Research in 1998 and contributed to development of sensing technologies and functional materials for GE Plastics, Water Technologies, Security, Corporate Environmental, Sensing, Healthcare, Consumer & Industrial, Energy, Transportation, and other GE businesses.  He has 85+ granted US Patents and 150+ publications, 80+ invited lectures and eight keynote lectures at National and International Meetings.  Radislav has been serving as the GE Principal Investigator on US Government programs funded by NIH, AFRL, DARPA, TSWG, and DHS. He is the initiator and a co-organizer of the First Gordon Research Conference on Combinatorial and High Throughput Materials Science and other conferences and symposia (ACS, MRC, Pittcon) on sensors and functional materials. Radislav is Editor of the Springer series Integrated Analytical Systems. Recent awards include 2010 Prism Award by SPIE for the development of a TrueSense Personal Water Analytics sensor system for GE Water Technologies and 2012 Blodgett Award by GE Research. Radislav is SPIE Fellow and Senior Member of the IEEE.

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