Ian Galton: Juggles Research and Entrepreneurism
Professor Ian Galton, this issue’s featured innovator, holds several world-records for high-speed/high-accuracy converters and is inventor on several U.S. patents in this technology area. Students in Galton’s department—Electrical and Computer Engineering—also voted him “best teacher” in 2006. In addition, Galton has several inventions disclosed to the Technology Transfer Office at UC San Diego and works with David Gibbons, assistant director, to commercialize these new technologies. This long-term collaboration has resulted in license agreements for Galton’s analog-to-digital converter innovations. Working with Galton, Gibbons is impressed with the inventor: “a no-nonsense researcher who knows his stuff and doesn’t waste time.”

Galton’s work has impressed San Diego entrepreneurs as well. Two start-up companies formed during the last decade using Galton’s technology. More recently, Dr. Bernard Xavier, one of the founders of Quorum Systems, Inc. (acquired by Spreadtrum Communications, SPRD) and Innocomm Wireless (acquired by National Semiconductor, NSM), began laying the foundation for a new start-up. Partnering with Dr. Andrea Panigada, then a Ph.D. student, Xavier and Panigada licensed Galton’s newest converter technology and formed Linear Silicon Solutions, Inc. Galton will serve as a scientific advisor for the new company.
Linear Silicon Solutions isn’t Xavier’s and Galton’s first common endeavor. The two met in 1996 at Pacific Communication Sciences, Inc., where Galton was consulting while on leave from the University of California. Two years later, Xavier invited Galton to join his newly formed board of directors at Innocomm Wireless.

Galton and Panigada have been working closely for several years as well. Galton has served as Panigada’s Ph.D. advisor since 2005 and the two have conducted joint research since 2003. Galton and Panigada were honored with an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) best paper award in 2008 for their paper on Digital Background Correction of Harmonic Distortion in Pipelined ADCs. According to Galton, this paper was pivotal in outlining the technology licensed by new start-up, Linear Silicon Solutions.

In talking about his academic research ventures, Galton states, “my group’s objective is to develop enabling technology for highly integrated, low-cost, communication systems. A major challenge is to overcome analog performance limitations that have been imposed by processes optimized for today’s digital circuitry.”

Galton has been teaching and conducting research at UC San Diego since 1996, initially as an associate professor and later a professor of electrical engineering. He also leads UC San Diego’s Integrated Signal Processing Group. Prior to UC San Diego, Galton worked at UC Irvine as an assistant professor of electrical engineering.

In addition to his academic research, Galton regularly consults at several semiconductor companies and teaches industry-oriented short courses on the design of mixed-signal integrated circuits, as well as serving on corporate Boards of Directors and corporate Technical Advisory Boards. He is also active in various capacities with IEEE, including past Editor-in-Chief of Transactions on Circuits and Systems II: Analog and Digital Signal Processing, member of the Solid-State Circuits Society Administrative Committee, member of the Circuits and Systems Society Board of Governors, and member of the International Solid-State Circuits Conference Technical Program Committee. Galton received his Sc.B. degree from Brown University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the California Institute of Technology.

  • Ian Galton, Ph.D.
  • Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering