THE INSTITUTEIEEE Fellow Teresa Huai-Ying Meng is the first woman to receive the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal. She is being honored for “technical contributions to and leadership in the development of wireless semiconductor technology.”
Meng’s innovations greatly accelerated the development of Wi-Fi as we know it.
She is a professor emerita of electrical engineering at Stanford.
During the late 1990s, wireless local area networks (LANs) were expensive, consumed a large amount of power, and delivered relatively poor performance. Meng’s solution was based on complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) integration, whereby many functions are placed on a single chip, combined with intensive digital signal processing to improve channel utilization.
Meng helped to found T-Span Systems in 1998, with an eye toward commercializing her CMOS-based wireless technology. In 2001 the company—then named Atheros—introduced the industry’s first CMOS transceiver at 5 GHz, an IEEE 802.11a-compliant wireless LAN chipset that was ready for production. The integrated wireless communication system-on-a-chip in CMOS was the technological foundation on which all Wi-Fi devices were designed.
Atheros went public in 2004. In 2006 the company partnered with the mobile code-division multiple access (CDMA) leader, Qualcomm, to create integrated cellular and Wi-Fi solutions. The partnership culminated in Qualcomm’s acquisition of Atheros in 2011.
According to the nominator, Meng’s vision, technical leadership, and perseverance led to the availability of inexpensive communications that fueled the wireless revolution by enabling low-cost, high-performance LANs.
The award is scheduled to be presented during the annual Honors Ceremony, part of the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit, to be held on 17 May at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina.