Analog and power management circuits

Thanks to our analog world, analog circuits remain vital components, even in our highly digitized society. Analog circuits span a wide variety of challenges and applications, ranging from analog front ends, amplifiers, filters, comparators, etc. Scaled CMOS technologies, with their reduced supply voltage and intrinsic gain, challenge such building blocks fundamentally. Also, the supply voltage of electronic systems is an analog quantity. More advanced power management circuits are emerging as power efficiency is critical to increasing battery life and enabling more powerful applications. The trend towards higher voltages, high power densities, higher conversion ratios, and a higher integration level is hugely apparent. MICAS is a strong player in these domains. We focus on innovative approaches and the use of standard CMOS and more innovative integration technologies.


Research challenges

Higher voltages

While the nominal supply voltage of scaled CMOS technologies is continuously reducing, the voltage of the mains remains constant. On the contrary, the trend in energy storage is towards higher voltages. For example, electric cars are shifting from 400 V towards 800 V batteries. Additionally, capacitive storage profits quadratically from increasing the voltage (see figure). These trends necessitate power management circuits with increasing conversion ratios to efficiently and reliably step down the energy source's voltage. Inductive converters suffer from extremely low duty cycles for such high conversion ratios. On the contrary, capacitive converters can use a 50% duty cycle clock regardless of the conversion ratio. Additionally, capacitors can be integrated easily. Shifting to higher voltage remains a considerable challenge. Research at MICAS is exploring new possibilities in this domain.

New technologies

Silicon-based bulk CMOS technologies have been the dominating platform for several decades. Although this is probably going to continue in the foreseeable future, some applications profit from other technologies. Recently, many technologies are emerging, for example, monolithic GaN technologies, TFT-based technologies, etc., which combine exciting properties with the integration aspect of traditional CMOS. This allows us to investigate the possibilities of fully integrated capacitive GaN power converters, TFT-based analog circuits, and more. The goal is to leverage our knowledge in CMOS and apply it to these more exotic technologies.

Extreme conditions 

Integrated circuits are everywhere today. Sometimes, they are used in so-called extreme conditions: an extremely low or high temperature, a high vacuum, a high radiation environment, an environment with high electromagnetic interference, etc. Realizing proper operation under such extreme conditions requires deep insight into the mechanisms that play and innovative solutions to circumvent them. MICAS is actively involved in research on chips for automotive applications, space applications, high-energy physics, gravitational-wave detectors, etc.

Current research topics

Integrating a 90V to 5V DC-DC converter for high-voltage battery management systems.
Analog and power management circuits
Tim Rens | Filip Tavernier
Scalable large array nanopore readouts for proteomics and next-generation sequencing
Analog and power management circuits, Hardware-efficient AI and ML, Biomedical circuits and sensor interfaces
Sander Crols | Filip Tavernier and Marian Verhelst
Fully Integrating High-Voltage DC-DC and AC-DC Conversion
Analog and power management circuits
Tuur Van Daele | Filip Tavernier
Ultrasound wave based body area networks
Analog and power management circuits, Ultra-low power digital SoCs and memories, Biomedical circuits and sensor interfaces
Wim Dehaene and Marian Verhelst

Innovative chips

A 10 GHz Quadruple-Tail Comparator with Double Feedforward Paths and Minimal Delay Slope in 28 nm CMOS
Technology: TSMC 28 nm CMOS
Published: IEEE 49th European Solid State Circuits Conference (ESSCIRC)
Application: High-speed ADCs, e.g., SAR ADCs
A Fully Integrated 230 Vrms-to-12 Vdc AC-DC Converter Achieving 9 mW/mm²
Technology: XT018
Published: IEEE Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits (VLSI Technology and Circuits)
Application: Internet of Things (IoT), home automation, grid infrastructure, and LED drivers
Fully Integrated 400 V-to-12 V DC-DC Converter in High-Voltage CMOS
Technology: XT018
Published: IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits
Application: Battery management in electric vehicles, LED drivers, and IoT/smart home from the AC mains
Technology: 90nm CMOS
Published: ESSCIRC’14
Application: Powering chips directly from a battery

Top publications

  1. E. De Pelecijn and M. S. J. Steyaert, "Stacking Isolated SC Cores for High-Voltage Wide Input Range Monolithic DC–DC Conversion," in IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. 55, no. 10, pp. 2639-2648, Oct. 2020, doi: 10.1109/JSSC.2020.3005795.
  2. T. Thielemans and F. Tavernier, "A 4V-0.55V Input Fully Integrated Switched-Capacitor Converter Enabling Dynamic Voltage Domain Stacking and Achieving 80.1% Average Efficiency," 2020 IEEE Symposium on VLSI Circuits, 2020, pp. 1-2, doi: 10.1109/VLSICircuits18222.2020.9162820.
  3. E. De Pelecijn and M. S. J. Steyaert, "A Fully Integrated Switched-Capacitor-Based AC–DC Converter for a 120 VRMS Mains Interface," in IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. 54, no. 7, pp. 2009-2018, July 2019, doi: 10.1109/JSSC.2019.2906750.
  4. T. Thielemans, N. Butzen, A. Sarafianos, M. Steyaert and F. Tavernier, "A capacitive DC-DC converter for stacked loads with wide range DVS achieving 98.2% peak efficiency in 40nm CMOS," 2018 IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference (CICC), 2018, pp. 1-4, doi: 10.1109/CICC.2018.8357018.
Get in touch with our lead researchers

Interested in working together?

Michiel Steyaert
Michiel Steyaert
Academic staff
Filip Tavernier
Filip Tavernier
Academic staff