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7 imec innovations in wireless

01 Jul 2015  | Steve Taranovich

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Steve Taranovich lets you see some highlights of imec's technical advances, especially in the wireless area.

I have been in many press briefings with Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (imec), a micro-and nanoelectronics research centre headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. Their research, especially in the wireless arena, has greatly impressed me with their technical prowess so I want to present some of the pretty amazing technical accomplishments they bring to the electronics world via semiconductor process technology research and development.

Figure 1

Wireless transceiver circuit

In 2014, Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. and imec Holst Centre developed a wireless transceiver circuit for body area networks (BAN) especially for medical applications. The solution uses the 400MHz-band and follows the international standard. The low power capability of this solution is the novel achievement because, instead of more than a dozen mW of power for this wireless transceiver front-end solution, only 1.6mW is expended on the receiving end and 1.8mW on the transmitter side. Battery life is obviously essential in these types of applications in longer battery lifetime and lower weight for the patient wearable.

Figure 2

Transceiver architecture

Shown here is the Fujitsu/imec transceiver architecture for the BAN. The receiver portion is digitally controlled and the simplicity of the architecture lends a lower power design with its programmable structure. The transmitting modulation technology is a clever high-speed three-point modulation scheme instead of a mixer to keep the power low.

Figure 3


Imec has developed a 0.47mW to 1.6mW SAR ADC, 5bits sampling at 0.5-1Gsps using a time-interleaving technique. The ADC has a 16 channel input and is targeted towards Ultra-Wideband (UWB) radios. There are two modes, 1Gsps at a 1V supply consuming 1.6mW and 0.5Gsps at 0.75V supply consuming 0.47mW. The Figures-of-Merit are 36fj/conversion-step and 57fj/conversion-step respectively.

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