/PhD position IC design for FMCW LiDAR

PhD position IC design for FMCW LiDAR

PhD - Gent Zwijnaarde | More than two weeks ago

Ghent University is seeking a candidate for a PhD position to research high-frequency electronic integrated circuits which will be co-designed and co-integrated with complementary photonic integrated circuits for next-generation frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) LiDAR transceivers.

Ghent University - imec research group IDLab 

Ghent University is one of the most important education and research institutions in the Low Countries, ranked 84 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (http://www.shanghairanking.com/). On a daily basis, over 15,000 staff members and 49,000 students implement its motto "Dare to Think". Ghent University's mission statement is characterized by qualitative education, internationally renowned research and a pluralistic social responsibility. 

The IDLab research group is also a core group of imec. Imec is the world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and also has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. 

All of these particular traits make IDLab a top-class research employer.


Ghent University is seeking a candidate for a PhD position to research high-frequency electronic integrated circuits which will be co-designed and co-integrated with complementary photonic integrated circuits for next-generation frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) LiDAR transceivers.

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is a 3D sensing technology based on laser light to measure the distance between an object and the sensor that holds great promise for allowing autonomous machines to see and navigate the world with very high precision. Typically, LiDAR designs comprise a multitude of moving parts (e.g., an assembly of lasers, optics, electronics, and detectors) on a mechanically rotating stage. The need to assemble and align all these parts leads to high costs and relatively low manufacturing volumes, while the wear and tear on the mechanical components limits long-term reliability, and all these factors have been hindering a wide adoption of this technology. To solve these problems, one of the big trends that industry is witnessing is the drive to higher levels of integration enabled by semiconductor technologies, and the move away from discrete and mechanical components. 

The PhD student will participate in an international team in an EU-funded Doctoral Network project called NiteLiDAR. The project consists of 10 PhD students at 3 universities, an international R&D organization, and a company. The project has partners from four different EU countries. All 10 Phd projects are within the overall theme of photonic and electronic integrated circuits for next-generation LiDAR technologies. 

This PhD project will take place at Ghent University. Apart from the time at UGent there will be secondments at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Electro) and at Bright Photonics, The Netherlands. There will also be common meetings with the other 9 PhD students in the doctoral network, including 3 training schools. 

As a participant of the project, the PhD student will become part of the IDLab-Design team at UGent and imec with extensive expertise in the design and characterization of high-speed integrated circuits for optical transceivers in various applications. The activities within the project will benefit from synergies with other projects in the group as well as with other activities in the department. The main supervisor will be Prof. Johan Bauwelinck.
The NiteLiDAR project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 101120353.
What you will do

This research is situated in the receiver part of the FMCW LiDAR system and complements the research on the transmitter design by other PhD students. The specifications and key requirements will be jointly defined taking advantage of potential system-level trade-offs. A balanced optical receiver or a full coherent receiver are envisioned with high bandwidth (around 15 to 20 GHz), high dynamic range and low noise to obtain high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in the FMCW receiver. Electro-optic co-simulations will be set up, using appropriate models and equivalent circuits, to co-optimize the electro-optic receiver performance for LiDAR. A co-designed FMCW receiver will be investigated and developed through custom photonic IC and electronic IC design. The resulting receiver architectures and circuits will be fabricated through MPWs and assembled in functional sub-systems.
The PhD student working on this project will closely collaborate with another PhD student at UGent working on the related photonic integrated circuits, considering the electronic-photonic co-design. The project will among others consist of the following tasks:

  1. Study and define receiver architectures and specifications
  2. Investigate circuit-level trade-offs and implement custom solutions 
  3. Design of electronic ICs in co-design with photonics ICs 
  4. Proof-of-concept realization, experimental validation and demonstration in relevant conditions

The IDLab Design group focuses on the research and development of electronic and opto-electronic integrated circuits for photonic applications, covering both high-speed communication and sensing applications. The group is internationally recognized as a leader in this area, as evidenced by its current involvement in 18 Horizon 2020 projects, 16 Horizon Europe projects, one ESA project and several significant direct collaborations with leading industry partners. These collaborations form the perfect basis for high-level and industry-relevant research and training in an environment with expert peers and top-notch test and measurement equipment. The group is currently 34 people strong, and very active in the imec high-speed transceiver and coherent transceiver programs. The IDLab research is supported by extensive high-speed and high-frequency measurement infrastructure housed in a 160m2 Faradized cage allowing for e.g. 4-port network analysis up to 67GHz, 256 GSa/s arbitrary waveform generation for signals beyond 100 Gbaud and 256 GSa/s signal acquisition for broadband signals up to 110 GHz. 

What we do for you

We offer a fully funded PhD position for full-time research in a highly international, renowned and friendly working environment, with a competitive salary at Ghent University. As a researcher you will publish and present your research results at major international conferences and in scientific journals in order to pursue your PhD degree and you will receive the possibility to follow various advanced training courses in Belgium and abroad. You are also expected to participate in outreach activities including, but not limited to, YouTube videos, social media updates, participation in public events and campaigns, as well as dissemination to popular press.
Typical research projects in the Design group involve multiple researchers with different specialties working as a team. Hence, a good team spirit, a good knowledge of English and effective communication skills (such as presenting and reporting) are of major importance for a successful collaboration. 

Location: Tech Lane Ghent Science Park 126, 9052 Ghent, Belgium

Who you are

  • You need to hold a relevant master’s degree e.g., Master of Science in Electrical  Engineering or Electronics Engineering. Moreover, at the date of recruitment you have maximum four year research experience and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Strong background in the design and realization of analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits using advanced SiGe BiCMOS or CMOS processes
  • Proficiency with design tools such as Cadence, electromagnetic simulators, parasitic extraction and verification tools
  • Additional experience considered as a plus:

               o    Work experience (academic or industrial) or publications 
               o    Experimental characterization of high-speed, high-frequency components and (sub-) systems
               o    Principles of optical Communications, signal processing, optical devices and photonics circuits

  • Your English is fluent, both speaking and writing
  • You are a team player with good networking and reporting skills
  •  Furthermore, due to the mobility rules of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie program, you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Belgium for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the recruitment date. 


Send your application or any questions concerning this vacancy to Prof. Johan Bauwelinck, johan.bauwelinck@ugent.be
Applications should include:a CV, a personal motivation letter, and contact information of three reference persons. After screening, selected candidates will be invited for an online interview as a first contact in a multi-stage selection process. 

Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 27 November 2023

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. The desirable start for the PhD position is May 1, 2024.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply. The recruitment is taking place following the European Code of Conduct for Recruitment of Researchers, which all candidates are encouraged to consult. The personal data of the applicants will be handled in compliance with applicable EU and national law on data protection (GDPR).

Selection process

NiteLiDAR is open to researchers regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, political views, language, age and nationality.  Applications from highly qualified applicants from outside the EU will thus be equally considered to other applicants. The integration of refugees is an EU priority and we will ensure equal opportunities to the researchers whose scientific careers have been interrupted. To ensure a gender balance in the project and work towards the Commission’s own policies on narrowing the gap between the genders in research, should two applicants be found to be equally qualified the preference will be given to the one that will balance the gender distribution in the entire Doctoral Network. After the deadline, all submitted applications will be checked against the defined admissibility and eligibility criteria (e.g. submitted electronically, readable, complete, in English, including grades and references), and applicants will be informed by email within two work weeks on the outcome. The following interviews and selection process will be carried out by a temporary Selection Committee constituted by the Coordinator (when possible) and the supervisors. Evaluation criteria include: Scientific background, capacity for creativity and independent thinking and leadership, mentoring and presentation abilities.

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