PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago
Power the next generation of advanced medical implants
The last decade has seen a tremendous revolution in all kinds of wearable health devices. Advances in ultra-low-power analog circuit design for various health sensing as well as advances in sensor technology for various biomarkers have been instrumental in this revolution. While wearables are becoming increasingly more mainstream, the research field is seeing a shift towards minimally invasive implantable solutions. Miniature electronic implants like pace makers, cochlear implants, deep-brain stimulation, electrical nerve stimulators are truly saving lives and improving quality of life dramatically. Ever more advanced sensor technology and ultra-low-power interface electronics pave the way for a whole slew of innovative miniature implants.
This is a rapidly evolving scientific field with many research opportunities. One of the key challenges remains powering such advanced implants. Today all implants are battery powered. This poses a number of challenges around biocompatibility, safety, size, surgery complexity, ... Also from a sustainability point of view, there is a strong interest to get rid of batteries because they often require rare earth metals and medical devices are not easily recyclable.
A potential solution lies in wireless power transfer and energy harvesting. There are many different technologies that can be considered for wireless power transfer (ultrasound, RF, magnetic, ...) as well as for energy harvesting (heat, motion, electro-magnetic, chemical reactions, ...). However, no matter which technology is being used, for small, deep tissue implants, the available power at the implant is always going to be very low. In this PhD, we will research power management circuitry that can efficiently harvest power from very weak sources and efficiently boost the available power to voltage levels able to power normal circuitry.
The candidate will be responsible for exploring various ASIC architectures that address these challenges. This PhD research will require strong innovation in analog circuit design, specifically power management circuits. The candidate will required to familiarize themselves with the field of wireless powering in body and energy harvesting in-body, design a prototype ASIC and validate it in a suitable in-vitro setting.
Required background: Electrical Engineering - option microelectronics
Type of work: 30% literature, 70% analog circuit design, simulation and layout
Supervisor: Chris Van Hoof
Daily advisor: Nick Van Helleputte
The reference code for this position is 2022-085. Mention this reference code on your application form.