Theses Doctoral

Integrated Circuit Design for Miniaturized, Trackable, Ultrasound Based Biomedical Implants

Zhang, Yihan

This thesis focuses on the design of an ultrasonography compatible implantable sensor platform, as a novel approach that implements a miniaturized, battery-less, real-time trackable parallel biosensing system. In addition to the frontend circuit, a sub-nW fully integrated pH sensor is designed in a way that can be easily integrated with the proposed sonography-compatible sensor platform. Combining the two integrated circuits together, the whole system will be able to map in vivo physiological information acquired from a distributed set of sensors on top of the ultrasound movie, leading to the idea envisioned as “augmented ultrasonography”.

Implemented in a 0.18 μm technology, an ultrasound power and data frontend circuit is designed to enable medical sensing implants to operate in an ultrasonography compatible way. When placed within the field of view of an imaging transducer, the frontend circuit harvests the power through a piece of piezo crystal from a minimally modified brightness-mode (B-mode) ultrasound imaging process that is commonly adopted in modern medical practices. The implant can also establish bi-directional data communication channels with the imaging transducer, allowing data to be transmitted in a way synchronized to the frame rate of the B-mode film. The design of the circuit is made possible by a combination of ultra-low-power circuit techniques and novel frontend circuit topologies, as imaging ultrasound waves in the form of short pulses with extremely low duty cycle poses challenges that has not previously seen in other implantable sensor systems. The proposed prototype achieves a total area of 0.6mm² for the integrated circuit (IC), as well as 71mm theoretical maximum implantable depth (up to 40 mm is verified experimentally). These two together give opportunities for this design to become the next generation solution for deep-tissue bio-sensing implants.

Realized using the same 0.18 μm technology, the fully integrated pH sensor is designed to deliver accurate pH readouts, at a reasonable speed of 1 sample per second, while consuming only 0.72 nW of power. Using an ion-sensitive field effect transistor (ISFET) and reference field effect transistor pair (REFET), the IC requires minimum additional post fabrication to deliver 10-bit resolution pH readouts at an end-to-end sensitivity of 65.8 LSB/pH. When working as a standalone device, this work advances the state-of-the-art of ISFET based pH sensor design. With an addition of 0.46 mm² of area, it is possible to integrate it with the ultrasound sonography compatible implant platform. This potential integration will further advance the vision of the augmented ultrasonography: real-time display of physiological information in a B-mode film, with the help from a distributed bio-sensor system for deep-tissue physiology monitoring.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Shepard, Kenneth L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 8, 2020