Extremely Energy Efficient Integrated Systems enabling Millimeter Scale Implantable Medical Devices

March 31, 2011
Time: 11:00am-12:00pm
Speaker: Mingoo Seok, Texas Instruments


Millimeter scale implantable medical devices with years of lifetime can bring revolutionary advancements in health care. They could be safely introduced into human body without invasive operations and constantly monitor physiological signs without having to be replaced. However, it is very challenging to create such devices. Why? Conventional circuit and system design techniques fail to deliver the required energy efficiency to satisfy such long lifetime requirement with the constraint of almost invisible system size. In order to improve energy efficiency, it has been suggested to scale supply voltage down to near or below transistor threshold voltages. However, such ultra low voltage operation is by itself insufficient to achieve the sub-nW power budget of millimeter scale medical devices. Also, it creates several other challenges such as performance degradation, heightened variability, and circuit robustness.

In this talk, I will discuss ultra low voltage systems and present a range of new circuit and architectural design approaches to overcome the above challenges, and thus lead to millimeter scale medical systems. This talk will focus on three relevant projects from my dissertation: a 35pW sensing platform (Phoenix Processor), a two-transistor voltage reference, and a Fast Fourier Transform core. In these projects, we successfully improved energy efficiency, performance, and variability, bringing the abstract concept of millimeter scale medical devices towards practical applications. Our proposed approaches provided record-setting energy efficiency in major building blocks such as microcontrollers, embedded memories, power conversion circuits, and DSP accelerators. The improvements were extensively verified through extensive silicon demonstrations.


Mingoo Seok received a PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2011. During his PhD, he has published more than 25 journal and conference papers in his field of research which includes low power digital and analog circuit and system design and methodology. His work contributed to the improvement of energy efficiency, performance, and variability in energy- constrained systems, allowing the abstract concept of millimeter-scale implantable medical devices to be translated into practical applications.

Dr. Seok received 1998 Excellency Fellowship from Seoul National University, 1999 Distinguished Undergraduate Scholarship from the Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies, 2005 Doctoral Fellowship from the same organization, and 2008 Rackham Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from the University of Michigan. He also won 2009 AMD/CICC Student Scholarship Award for picowatt voltage reference design and 2009 DAC/ISSCC Student Design Contest for the 35pW sensor platform design, also known as Phoenix Processor. He holds one pending US patent and two invention disclosures. He is currently a member of technical staff at the R&D center of Texas Instruments, focusing on ultra low power communication systems and security-enhancing circuit techniques.

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