R5: Ultra-low-power wireless communication

Research line leader: André Kokkeler (UT)

To communicate with its surroundings, an energy autonomous node is facilitated with a wireless communications interface. Because of the limited amount of energy that is available, this interface has to operate extremely power efficient and, in case energy sources become exhausted, has to be able to cope with ultra-low voltages. Data-rates are expected to be (very) low for many applications ranging from a few bits per second to at most 10 kilobits per second (kbps). Current standards aiming at ultra-low power communications (such as IEEE 802.15.4 LR-WPAN, IEEE 802.15.6 WBAN, Bluetooth LE) provide data rates between 100-1000 kbps and the lowest published power consumption figures are around 500 µW. Besides this, interference rejection is poor and the reported circuits heavily rely on sophisticated analogue techniques where digital techniques have the advantage that they scale with technology. The scientific challenges within R5 are, therefore, to develop new digital solutions for transmitters and receivers:

  • Investigate new approaches to improve interference-robustness in low-power receivers.
  • Research new circuit techniques to cope with ultra-low voltages, even below 0.4V.
  • Define digital techniques for the mitigation of imperfections of ultra-low power analog RF circuits, that minimize the energy per transmitted and decoded bit.