Professor Rajeevan Amirtharajah Wins NSF 'Early Career' Award

Dr. Amirtharajah's research focuses on powering electronic systems from environmental sources by harvesting energy from solar radiation or mechanical vibration. The goal is to reduce battery size and volume, decrease system maintenance costs, and increase operating lifetime for portable or wearable electronics or wireless sensors. Research under the new grant will include the exploration of circuit styles and signal processing architectures for energy harvesting sensors which enable a trade off between system performance and available power. This work will open new possibilities in long-lifetime sensors for monitoring critical infrastructure, health care, and security applications.


Energy Scalable Signal Processing for Energy Harvesting Microsystems


This CAREER proposal focuses on developing integrated circuits for energy harvesting microsystems. Advances in digital technology have brought computation out of the machine room and made it nearly ubiquitous. Integrating computation with sensing and actuation enables new applications in transportation systems, environmental studies, and public safety. However, battery technology has not kept pace-limiting size, operating lifetime, and raising costs. Energy harvesting from external sources can enable the next generation of ubiquitous computation, but energy-harvesting microsystems are still in their infancy. Moreover, the desire for smaller devices and high integration limits the power available from energy harvesting. Intellectual Merit: This proposal addresses these issues by developing microarchitectures and circuits for sensor signal processing that are energy efficient, energy scalable, and robust to voltage variations, which characterize energy harvesting transducers. The approach is to develop computational elements that do not require DC power supplies by using energy recovery and self-timed circuits adapted to energy harvesting operation from AC supplies. The project culminates in the development of a custom DSP integrated circuit with a target energy efficiency of 10 TeraOps/W, which will demonstrate critical enabling technologies for future energy harvesting microsystems. Broader Impacts: To broaden the impact of this work, the project will bring energy scalability ideas into new and revised courses through design projects and laboratory experiments. The goal is to reintroduce physical constraints into digital design, which is currently dominated by logic synthesis, and link education with the research program.

The project will involve underrepresented minorities in the proposed research through the NSF California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) program. The project will contribute to the energy harvesting and low power research community by disseminating methodologies, results, and tools online and through interdisciplinary collaboration with researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and with industry researchers at Motorola and Xilinx, Inc.

Posted: February 17, 2006

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