Use IEEE DataPort to Share Your Research Data Sets

The Web-based portal lets you store just about any format

4 min read
illustration of data being shared
Illustration: Shutterstock

THE INSTITUTE IEEE DataPort made its debut to the public last year, and to date more than 200,000 people have used the Web-based platform, uploading more than 1,000 data sets. Developed and supported by IEEE, the product allows researchers to store, share, access, and manage their research data sets in a single trusted location.

The portal accepts both standard and open-access data sets in many formats. Each data set uploaded may be as large as 2 terabytes. The data is stored on the Amazon Web Services cloud and can be downloaded or retrieved at any time. There is currently no charge to upload data sets.


IEEE DataPort is integrated with the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID). An ORCID identifier distinguishes you from other researchers, and data set owners have the option to enter their ORCID identifier with their data sets to ensure they are included on their ORCID asset list.

In addition, digital object identifiers (DOIs) are automatically assigned to each data set.

Uploaded data sets that are open access are by definition freely accessible at no cost to all users. Data uploaded as a standard data set is also free to access by subscribers. According to the terms and conditions of IEEE DataPort, those who upload a data set automatically grant a Creative Commons license to their data set so others may access and use it.

Data sets must be cited if used. Therefore, data owners can generate citations once they’ve uploaded their data set.

IEEE DataPort also stores related documentation such as scripts and visualizations. Data sets are visible to all users, while related documentation may be accessed only by those with an IEEE DataPort account.

Data sets can be linked to articles previously published by IEEE, and the platform is integrated into the article submission process for more than 91 IEEE journals and magazines.

Users can send an email message directly through the platform to other data set owners and provide them with feedback, ask questions, and request collaboration. They also have the ability to share their data sets and others’ through social media platforms.


IEEE DataPort was created in response to the demand by IEEE members to address the growing data needs of the global technical community.

“IEEE DataPort is now widely used by researchers around the world,” says IEEE Fellow K.J. Ray Liu, 2019 vice president, IEEE Technical Activities, who is one of the platform’s originators. “IEEE DataPort can bring global exposure to your research efforts. It supports research reproducibility and serves as a valuable resource for additional researchers.”

Senior Member David Belanger, the IEEE volunteer lead for IEEE DataPort, adds that “all major IEEE organizational units came together to develop and support the platform.

“We are extremely pleased to see the rapid usage growth,” Belanger says. “User feedback clearly indicates IEEE is meeting their data needs.”


Researchers at organizations around the world are using IEEE DataPort to collaborate and advance their work.

Rabindra Lamsal, a graduate research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, in New Delhi, is developing a disaster response system that can classify crisis-related Twitter tweets into categories such as community needs, number of deaths, and property damage.

Creating a centralized platform to easily access standard data sets was necessary, Lamsal says. He was able to access data sets on machine learning that helped him develop his own research, he says. By getting in contact with other data set owners, he adds, he was able to use the full benefits of the platform to his advantage.

“The large data storage capacity is impressive and extremely beneficial to data set users to directly connect with data owners to make specific inquiries,” he says. “Because the data sets have DOIs, they can be easily cited in future research.”

Ana-Cosmina Popescu, a graduate researcher at the University Politehnica of Bucharest, Romania, is using the platform to store data from her research on using machine learning for recognizing human activities, such as falling, sitting, standing, and writing, based on merging information from all channels of a 3D video.

“IEEE DataPort offered an affordable and stable storage method,” Popescu says. “It also provided me visibility among other researchers and engineers and let me browse through existing activity recognition and machine learning data sets.”

The platform helps her meet her goals, adds Popescu, whose research includes filming an RGB-D (red, green, blue, and depth) human activity recognition and machine learning data set, with the purpose of sharing it with the computer-vision research community.

Postdoctoral researcher Manjunath Matam at the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, is using IEEE DataPort for solar photovoltaic system work. His research on identifying corrupt data, such as nonrelevant values and substandard measurements in grid-tied photovoltaic systems, is quickly reaching a broader audience.

“My two data sets together have reached more than 1,000 people in the past two months, and I’ve received direct feedback from some of them,” Matam says. “Having 2 terabytes of free storage is a great feature.”


IEEE DataPort has an option for users to host a data competition, a time-limited challenge in which a data set owner can invite members of the global technical community to provide specific analyses or make predictions based on the available files.

Participation in the competitions is managed by the initiator, and can be open to all or limited to specific participants.

Visit the IEEE DataPort website to explore data sets and house your own research data. Use promo code DATAPORT1 at checkout to get a free subscription.

Melissa Handa is the senior program manager for IEEE DataPort.

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The Inner Beauty of Basic Electronics

Open Circuits showcases the surprising complexity of passive components

5 min read
A photo of a high-stability film resistor with the letters "MIS" in yellow.
All photos by Eric Schlaepfer & Windell H. Oskay

Eric Schlaepfer was trying to fix a broken piece of test equipment when he came across the cause of the problem—a troubled tantalum capacitor. The component had somehow shorted out, and he wanted to know why. So he polished it down for a look inside. He never found the source of the short, but he and his collaborator, Windell H. Oskay, discovered something even better: a breathtaking hidden world inside electronics. What followed were hours and hours of polishing, cleaning, and photography that resulted in Open Circuits: The Inner Beauty of Electronic Components (No Starch Press, 2022), an excerpt of which follows. As the authors write, everything about these components is deliberately designed to meet specific technical needs, but that design leads to “accidental beauty: the emergent aesthetics of things you were never expected to see.”

From a book that spans the wide world of electronics, what we at IEEE Spectrum found surprisingly compelling were the insides of things we don’t spend much time thinking about, passive components. Transistors, LEDs, and other semiconductors may be where the action is, but the simple physics of resistors, capacitors, and inductors have their own sort of splendor.

High-Stability Film Resistor

A photo of a high-stability film resistor with the letters "MIS" in yellow.

All photos by Eric Schlaepfer & Windell H. Oskay

This high-stability film resistor, about 4 millimeters in diameter, is made in much the same way as its inexpensive carbon-film cousin, but with exacting precision. A ceramic rod is coated with a fine layer of resistive film (thin metal, metal oxide, or carbon) and then a perfectly uniform helical groove is machined into the film.

Instead of coating the resistor with an epoxy, it’s hermetically sealed in a lustrous little glass envelope. This makes the resistor more robust, ideal for specialized cases such as precision reference instrumentation, where long-term stability of the resistor is critical. The glass envelope provides better isolation against moisture and other environmental changes than standard coatings like epoxy.

15-Turn Trimmer Potentiometer

A photo of a blue chip
A photo of a blue chip on a circuit board.

It takes 15 rotations of an adjustment screw to move a 15-turn trimmer potentiometer from one end of its resistive range to the other. Circuits that need to be adjusted with fine resolution control use this type of trimmer pot instead of the single-turn variety.

The resistive element in this trimmer is a strip of cermet—a composite of ceramic and metal—silk-screened on a white ceramic substrate. Screen-printed metal links each end of the strip to the connecting wires. It’s a flattened, linear version of the horseshoe-shaped resistive element in single-turn trimmers.

Turning the adjustment screw moves a plastic slider along a track. The wiper is a spring finger, a spring-loaded metal contact, attached to the slider. It makes contact between a metal strip and the selected point on the strip of resistive film.

Ceramic Disc Capacitor

A cutaway of a Ceramic Disc Capacitor
A photo of a Ceramic Disc Capacitor

Capacitors are fundamental electronic components that store energy in the form of static electricity. They’re used in countless ways, including for bulk energy storage, to smooth out electronic signals, and as computer memory cells. The simplest capacitor consists of two parallel metal plates with a gap between them, but capacitors can take many forms so long as there are two conductive surfaces, called electrodes, separated by an insulator.

A ceramic disc capacitor is a low-cost capacitor that is frequently found in appliances and toys. Its insulator is a ceramic disc, and its two parallel plates are extremely thin metal coatings that are evaporated or sputtered onto the disc’s outer surfaces. Connecting wires are attached using solder, and the whole assembly is dipped into a porous coating material that dries hard and protects the capacitor from damage.

Film Capacitor

An image of a cut away of a capacitor
A photo of a green capacitor.

Film capacitors are frequently found in high-quality audio equipment, such as headphone amplifiers, record players, graphic equalizers, and radio tuners. Their key feature is that the dielectric material is a plastic film, such as polyester or polypropylene.

The metal electrodes of this film capacitor are vacuum-deposited on the surfaces of long strips of plastic film. After the leads are attached, the films are rolled up and dipped into an epoxy that binds the assembly together. Then the completed assembly is dipped in a tough outer coating and marked with its value.

Other types of film capacitors are made by stacking flat layers of metallized plastic film, rather than rolling up layers of film.

Dipped Tantalum Capacitor

A photo of a cutaway of a Dipped Tantalum Capacitor

At the core of this capacitor is a porous pellet of tantalum metal. The pellet is made from tantalum powder and sintered, or compressed at a high temperature, into a dense, spongelike solid.

Just like a kitchen sponge, the resulting pellet has a high surface area per unit volume. The pellet is then anodized, creating an insulating oxide layer with an equally high surface area. This process packs a lot of capacitance into a compact device, using spongelike geometry rather than the stacked or rolled layers that most other capacitors use.

The device’s positive terminal, or anode, is connected directly to the tantalum metal. The negative terminal, or cathode, is formed by a thin layer of conductive manganese dioxide coating the pellet.

Axial Inductor

An image of a cutaway of a Axial Inductor
A photo of a collection of cut wires

Inductors are fundamental electronic components that store energy in the form of a magnetic field. They’re used, for example, in some types of power supplies to convert between voltages by alternately storing and releasing energy. This energy-efficient design helps maximize the battery life of cellphones and other portable electronics.

Inductors typically consist of a coil of insulated wire wrapped around a core of magnetic material like iron or ferrite, a ceramic filled with iron oxide. Current flowing around the core produces a magnetic field that acts as a sort of flywheel for current, smoothing out changes in the current as it flows through the inductor.

This axial inductor has a number of turns of varnished copper wire wrapped around a ferrite form and soldered to copper leads on its two ends. It has several layers of protection: a clear varnish over the windings, a light-green coating around the solder joints, and a striking green outer coating to protect the whole component and provide a surface for the colorful stripes that indicate its inductance value.

Power Supply Transformer

A photo of a collection of cut wires
A photo of a yellow element on a circuit board.

This transformer has multiple sets of windings and is used in a power supply to create multiple output AC voltages from a single AC input such as a wall outlet.

The small wires nearer the center are “high impedance” turns of magnet wire. These windings carry a higher voltage but a lower current. They’re protected by several layers of tape, a copper-foil electrostatic shield, and more tape.

The outer “low impedance” windings are made with thicker insulated wire and fewer turns. They handle a lower voltage but a higher current.

All of the windings are wrapped around a black plastic bobbin. Two pieces of ferrite ceramic are bonded together to form the magnetic core at the heart of the transformer.

This article appears in the February 2023 print issue.