Research Assistant in Ultra-Low-Power Mixed Signal PMIC

  • Cork

Established in 2004, the Tyndall National Institute is one of Europe’s leading centres in ICT research and development. It hosts over 500 researchers, engineers and support staff. It has a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide. Tyndall performs breakthrough research in photonics, electronics, micro/nano-technology and smart systems to deliver innovative solutions in the communications, energy, medtech, biopharma, agricultural and the environmental sectors. MCCI is one of many research centres hosted by Tyndall

MCCI is Ireland’s national Microelectronics Circuits Research Centre. MCCI has a team of over 90 researchers and engineers hosted across Tyndall National Institute, UL and UCD, collaborating on more than 50 research projects. Funded by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, its focus is to generate innovative technologies. Specifically, MCCI’s mission is to carry out industry-led, world-class Analog, Mixed-Signal, RF and Power Management integrated circuit research and deliver high impact research, IP and trained people to industry.

MCCI’s Power Research Theme Is focused on creating advanced technology, integrated power systems employing both on-chip (PwrSoC) and in-package (PwrSiP) packaging technologies and exploiting the capabilities of next-generation commercial components such as based on the 20 -100 MHz thin film cobalt based magnetic materials. Alternatively, the systems are based on the technologies and expertise being created by Tyndall’s co-located research groups, in areas such as III-V devices, solid-state electrochemical storage cells/sensors or micro-power energy harvesting transducers spanning thermoelectric, UV PV, MEMs piezo or electromagnetic. Gate driver technologies for higher power systems employing Si DMOS, GaN or SiC power switching bridges are also a theme.

MCCI wishes to offer a twelve-month fixed-term research assistant role in the area of mixed-signal control system implementation on CMOS, for integration with our ultra-low-power energy harvesting PMIC platform.

The Role

The role primarily involves modelling, design and simulation of mixed-signal modulator and control systems to maximise energy transduction from a range of µW-level ambient energy harvester types including PV, TEG, and Piezo Vibrational, into both energy storage devices and into regulated system voltages. The systems will be developed for Tyndall’s ultra-low power buck-boost power conversion IC platform. The IC will be the central controller for technology show-case designs such as highly integrated energy-source-in-package, eSiP. The designs are to be a basis for next generation energy harvesting or ultra-long life battery powered smart-sensor nodes, as might be appropriate for IoT or Body-Wearable application.

Modulators for power and energy control will be based on asynchronously triggerable oscillator based digital-to-time (DTC) converters. Multi-disciplinary and multi-domain models for the various harvester types will be created in Matlab/Simulink. Linear Time Invariant (LTI) controllers will be developed to implement voltage, current, power and energy control loops for the above harvester types around averaged models for the switch mode converter feeding into both super-capacitor and battery storage devices. The control systems developed will be predominantly implemented as asynchronous Verilog RTL and will be synthesised as digital state-machine blocks on 180 nm CMOS IC.

The role will suit a control designer who enjoys multi-disciplinary theoretical analysis and will contribute to the group’s research publications.

Key Responsibilities

  • Schematic design and CMOS layout of ganged-oscillator and PLL based modulator system.
  • Modelling, design and simulation of mixed-signal control systems to maximise energy transduction from a range of µW-level ambient energy harvester types including PV, TEG, and Piezo Vibrational, into both energy storage devices (supercapacitors and rechargeable cells) and into regulated system voltages. Energy conversation will be through ultra-low power multi-mode buck-boost.
  • Design of digital controllers (Z transform and discrete time domains) to implement voltage, current, power and energy control loops for the above harvester types around averaged models for the switch mode converter.
  • Implement the designed controller blocks in Verilog RTL (substantially asynchronous for ultra-low power).
  • Synthesise designed modulators and controllers as digital circuit blocks (to transistor level) on CMOS (Timing, Place and Route).
  • Design of electronic hardware test schematics and PCB prototypes to prove devised controller blocks with FPGA based hardware.
  • Assist with integrated power system prototype characterisation and the dissemination of results, as directed by and with the support of a Senior Researcher or Principal Investigator through to tier one conference technical paper publication.
  • Engage in appropriate training courses, as required.
  • Participate in Education and Public Engagement activities, as required.
  • Ensure all activities are compliant with the Tyndall Quality Management system.
  • Ensure all activities are compliant with the required Health and Safety standards.
  • Carry out any additional duties as may reasonably be required within the general scope and level of the post.

Essential Criteria

  • Master’s Degree (honours) in Electronics Engineering or related discipline with experience or training modules completed in Analog, Mixed-Signal or RF CMOS integrated circuit design.
  • Evidence of successful execution of analog circuit design from specification through schematic design, layout, DRC (design rule checking) and PEX (extracted parasitic) validation.
  • Experience of successful execution digital block design for implementation in CMOS, from RTL-Verilog through to validated synthesized digital circuits.
  • Evidence of ability to work independently on the schematic design and layout of challenging mixed signal circuit blocks.
  • Good planning, organisational and oral/written communication skills.
  • Strong evidence of being a self-starter and highly motivated.
  • Experience of contributing well in a team-oriented, collaborative environment.
  • A strong desire to progress a career in research and technology development in the area of ultra-low-power PMIC, to the level of publishing at tier-1 conferences.

Desirable Criteria

  • PhD in Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
  • Experience of mixed signal system level modelling in Matlab-Simulink.
  • Experience of PLL design.
  • Experience of implementation of real-time control algorithms in FPGA.
  • Good understanding of switch mode power circuit operation.
  • Publishing or Patenting track record

Informal inquiries can be made in confidence to

Appointment may be made on the IUA Scale for Research Assistant €28,701- €38,390 per annum Salary placement on appointment will be in accordance with public sector pay policy.

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