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Alessandra Costanzo


Department of Electrical, Electronic, and Information Engineering "Guglielmo Marconi"

Academic discipline: ING-INF/02 Electromagnetic Fields

Coordinator of PhD Programme of Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technologies Engineering

Curriculum vitae

Alessandra Costanzo is full Professor at the University of Bologna Cesena Campus, since September 2018.  Her research interests are very widely distributed in the field of modern RF/microwave front-ends design, both traditional and miniaturized ones: specifically i) electro-thermal characterization and modeling of RF/microwave nonlinear devices; ii) development of simulation techniques for active microwave integrated circuits, including broadband self-oscillating systems, spanning electrical, stability, and noise performance; iii) nonlinear and electromagnetic co-simulation, co-design of active antenna systems, entire RF links, SISO or MIMO, including radiation and propagation specifications. In the last few years she exploited this background to provide highly innovative solutions for ubiquitous energy autonomous wireless embedded systems. She successfully designed and exploited solutions based on microwave interference for precise and non-invasive structural monitoring, exploiting RFID technologies, applied in the microwave range; she implemented highly innovative multi-band rectennas, specialized for wearable applications, for ambient RF harvesting and for micro-power generation to achieve energy autonomous sensor nodes. She studies and develops single-band and multi-band wireless power transmission systems (WPTs) and energy harvesting systems by adopting both near-field and far-field techniques, for different operating frequencies and different power levels. She also studies innovative hardware solutions for energy autonomous long-range UWB localization and system integration of simultaneous data and energy transfer.

She holds three international patents; she has authored or co-authored more than 170 papers in peer reviewed international conferences and journal and several chapters book.

She is IEEE Senior Member. She is past-chair of the MTT-S technical committee TC-26 “Wireless energy transfer and conversion”. She has been the co-founder of the EU COST Action IC1301(2013-2017) WiPE: “ Wireless Power Transfer for sustainable Electronics” where she chaired the WG1 on “Far-field WPT” and was elected Italy member of the action management committee. She is steering committee chair of the new IEEE Journal of RFID and MTT-S representative on the CRFID. Since 2015 she has been Associate Editor of the IEEE Transaction on Microwave Theory and Techniques and of the Cambridge Journal of Microwave and wireless technologies. She serves as reviewer of many other journals such as (but not limited to): IEEE Trans. on Antennas and propagation, IEEE Trans. on Industrial Electronics, IEEE Trans. on Power Electronics and the IET Microwaves Antennas & Propagation. She is regularly invited as TPC member for the MTT-S IMS symposium, the EuMW and many other IEEE conferences related to RF and microwaves, such as (but not limited to) RFID-TA, WPTC, IWS, IMARC, RWW.


She obtained the 5-year Master degree, with honours, in Electronic Engineering in 1987 at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Bologna. She obtained the qualification for the engineering profession. She became research associate in 1989, a permanent position at the University of Bologna not compatible with a PhD course, this is why she could not be enrolled in any PhD course.

Academic roles

1987 - 1989 she obtained research grants from private companies to develop projects at the University.

In 1989 she won the national competition as a research associate in electromagnetic fields.

In 2001 she won the national competition as associate professor of electromagnetic field (scientific-disciplinary sector ING-INF / 02 Electromagnetic fields), at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Bologna, Cesena campus.

She is with the Department of Electrical Energy and Information Engineering "G. Marconi "(DEI) and the Advanced Research Center on Electronic Systems "E. De Castro", and the Inter-Departmental Center for Industrial Research in ICT.

2007-2009: member elected of the governing body of the department that assists the Director.

2009-2011: member elected of the governing body of the department that assists the Director.

2016- current: member elected of the governing body of the department that assists the Director.

2016- current: member elected in the Council of the School of Architecture and Engineering at the University of Bologna, Italy Consiglio della Scuola d’Ingegneria ed Architettura of the University of Bologna, Italy.

2017- current: deputy coordinator of the PhD Program ET-IT, developed by the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering (DEI)

Teaching activities

Alessandra Costanzo has teaching experience at different levels. She has developed two undergraduate (Techniques for Microwaves, Electromagnetic fields in Guided Waves) and three graduate (Microwaves, Radio-Frequency Systems, Bio-electromagnetic) electromagnetic and microwave courses and laboratories.

She gives basic courses on the theory and applications of the EM propagation, both in free space and guided, in the three-year degree of electronic and telecommunication engineering and in the master degree she gives courses dedicated to the nonlinear design of microwave circuits. In the Master degree of biomedical engineering she gives the course of Bio-electromagnetic and she is currently developing a new master degree course on theory and applications of wireless power transfer.

She carries out intense teaching activities in the context of major international conferences in her area of scientific interest, and international advanced training schools for specialists. She has held numerous educational seminars in various Italian and foreign universities.

She is frequently invited as Opponent during public defense of PhD theses in several Italian and European universities, such the Imperial College, London (UK), The Ghent University (Belgium) Chalmers University, (Sweden) and several Italian Universities. She is frequently supervisor of master thesis and PhD students.

Currently her group is formed by five PhD students, two graduated students with bi-annual research grants.

Research interests

I am interested in the development of efficient, rigorous and general-purpose procedures, based on the Harmonic balance technique, for the circuit level analysis and design of entire RF front-ends, integrated with their antennas. The main goals are: energy efficiency, miniaturization and integration for future distributed applications. These techniques are in fact indispensable for the pervasive exploitation of modern wireless systems that need integrating energy collection, sensing, identification and localization. In this context, with a collaboration of my research group with the microelectronics unit of the University of Bologna, I have implemented innovative solutions of multi-band rectifying antennas capable of capturing electromagnetic energy from the environment, to efficiently treat the collected energy for its immediate or future use. I have also studied very novel RF-to-DC dynamic converters, allow to operate in multi-mode, starting from ultra-low power to manage both the wake-up radio and the main power-hungry radio. These activities have been demonstrated in various scientific contributions since 2009 and constitute the deliverables of several National and International research projects. In particular, we have developed quite a few compact multiband rectennas (rectifying antennas) not only on traditional substrates but also experimenting new materials, such as: various fabrics for both insulators and conductors. Some of these original results have been subject of an international patent. I have specifically designed magneto-dielectric materials, EM characterized for wearable applications.

From the transmitter side of the RF system I have developed smart radiators for realizing multi-beam antennas by modulating the RF signal with a slow signal (TMA). These techniques have been demonstrated also for innovative RFID readers capable not only to identify but also to locate and track objects and people in harsh EM indoor environments. (Furthermore, I have studied novel excitation techniques, based on duty-cycling of the RF excitation to minimize the energy per bit thus enabling the wake-up radio operations at long distances.

Another area of interest concerns the modelling of entire RF links at the circuit level, both SISO and MIMO, including the modelling of the radio channel and the actual layout of the antennas among the descriptive blocks. I have developed a procedure to define new figures of merit that include both the performance of the nonlinear subsystem and those of the radiating parts, in order to formulate the specifications of an RF system directly in terms of performance in the far field, accounting for a realistic prediction of the radio channel. This enable to model interactions between antenna and front-end in such a way that the impact on the overall system behaviour can be actual connection can be predicted with extreme precision. In this research field, I have also developed tools for neural networks of custom sub-systems, derived from their electromagnetic simulation.

Recently I have been dedicated to the development of wireless power transmission (WPT) systems, exploiting EM techniques for both near-field and far-field transfer mechanism, for different operating frequencies and power levels. I am studying general purpose solutions to integrate energy and data transfer for industrial applications and for the non-trivial problem of “on the move” WPT which is a highly relevant topic for EV vehicles recharging for civil and industrial application. I have obtained very interesting solutions for keeping a flat efficiency regardless of the vehicle position. Novel system configurations for power levels higher than > 100 W have been obtained with a system based on reactive coupling that is powered and controlled by transmitter and receiver systems exploiting the new GaN technology. Accurate circuit models of both the active and the passive parts have been derived, by means of a general purpose procedure, to enable system optimization based on its actual and dynamic terminations, rather than on unrealistic reference ones. I have developed a fully integrated system for high power transfer, as high as 1 kW, to rotating arms, foreseen as a strategic feature for industrial environments. In this case I have also demonstrated the simultaneous transmission of power and data through a passive sensing technique. This system has obtained a US patent in 2017.

Funding for these projects comes from both public and private, national and international entities such as: projects funded by the European community under the VII program and the ARTEMIS and EXCEL platforms, the European space agency (ESA) the MIUR, COST IC1301 action, from the European Regional Development Fund POR-FESR, the Ministry of Defense and several private companies such as IMA spa, Ducati Energia, Nubila and Alstom.

Awards and Honours

  1. Since 2013 she is IEEE Senior Member.
    1. 2016- current: Distinguished Lecturer del IEEE CRFID with the lecture entitled: “Smart Beaming of RFID Reader for Data and Power Transfer”.
  2. 2016-current: Steering committee Chair of the new IEEE Journal on RFID
  3. Advisor/co-author of students' honors and awards (student name in parentheses)
  • 2013 IEEE MTT-S undergraduate Fellowship with the project: “Wearable miniaturized magneto-dielectric (MD) antennas for body area network and wireless power transmission applications ( Alex Pacini).
  • 2016 IEEE MTT-S graduate Fellowship with the project: “A compact-size eco-compatible solution for simultaneous RF energy harvesting and data communication toward next-generation ultrawideband (UWB)-based RF identification (RFID) systems (Marco Fantuzzi).
  • 2016 IMS2016 First Place Award, Student Design Competition on “Wireless Energy Harvesting” ( Massimo Del Prete, Marco Fantuzzi).
  • 2015 IEEE International Microwave Symposium Student Paper Competition Finalist (Massimo Del Prete)
  • 2016 7th COST Meeting Student Design Competition on “UWB-UHF systems for improved reader-Tag distance” ( Marco Fantuzzi).
  • 2017 9th COST Meeting Student context “Design of a Position and Load Independent dc-to-dc Wireless Power Transfer System for Moving Applications” (Alex Pacini).

Leadership positions in society administrative committees, publications, conferences:

  1. 2015 - 2017: chair elected of the IEEE MTT-S Technical committee TC-26 “Wireless power transmission and conversion”.
  2. 20113 - 2014: deputy chair elected of the IEEE MTT-S Technical committee TC-26 “Wireless power transmission and conversion”.
  3. 2015 - current: representative for the University of Bologna of the SIEM Italian society of Electromagnetism.
  4. 2015 - current: member elected of the AdCom of the IEEE Council of RFID, as representative of the MTT- Society.­­­
  5. 2015 – current Distinguished Lecturer of the CRFID: “Smart Beaming of RFID Reader for Data and Power Transfer”.
  6. 2015 – current Associate editor of the IEEE Transaction on Microwave Theory and Techniques.
  7. 2014 – current Associate editor of the Cambridge Journal: “Wireless power Transfer” University, Cambridge University Press.
  8. 2013 - current Associate editor of the Cambridge Journal: International Journal of Microwave and Wireless Technologies, Cambridge University Press
  9. 2016 – current: Steering Committee chair of the new IEEE Journal of RFID
  10. 2012 – current: Technical program committee member of the IEEE MTT-S IMS TPRC.
  11. 2017 designated subcommittee chair: of SC35 “Wireless power transfer” of the IEEE MTT-S IMS TPRC.
  12. 2014 general chair of Workshops, focus e special sessions of the European Microwave Week (EuMW).
  13. 2012 – current TPRC member European Microwave Conference (EuMW).
  14. 2014 - 2015 Organizer of the focus session: Women in Microwaves, in the framework of the EuMA EuMW (European Microwave Week (EuMW).
  15. 2010 – current every year she proposes and organize at least one workshop on emerging technologies exploiting microwaves at IEEE MTT-S IMS and for the EuMW.
  16. 2017 – current ExCom chair of the IEEE WPTC.

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