MSc thesis project proposal

[2022] Self Powered Neuromorphic Pressure Sensor Readout System for Robotics

The sense of touch supports human’s interaction with the environment in several ways: grasping, balancing, texture recognition and others. For example, when grasping an object the feeling of the object’s material informs us about the strength and the position of the grip, giving us the possibility to keep an object in our hand without breaking it [1].

Robots and prosthetic that embody this ability are now growing in fame. Robots in industrial applications interacting with humans need to be equipped with the ability of sensing the surrounding and spot when people are around[1]. Prosthesis, on the other side, need touch to restore the ability of the patient to interact with the environment.

Traditional ways of handling pressure readout in electronics have some limitations related with continuously sampling the environment through analog-digital converters (ADC) consuming power and bandwidth. Neuromorphic event-driven sensors aim at solving this problem by introducing a paradigm of acquisition that activates the circuits only when variations in the sensor data are detected [2]. This approach can be applied to pressure sensing, where the piezoelectric readout can be activated in the exclusive case in which the sensor is pressed, therefore drastically reducing power consumption. To further enhance autonomy of operation, this project targets the realization of a piezoelectric readout that not only is activated by the pressure but that also gets power-up by the energy produced by the charge in the piezoelectric material.

The project requires the design of a current generator stage along with a neuron that receives the charge from the piezoelectric element.

References

[1] Bartolozzi, C., Natale, L., Nori, F. et al. Robots with a sense of touch. Nature Mater 15, 921–925 (2016)

[2] Janotte, E., Mastella, M., Chicca, E., & Bartolozzi, C. (2021). Touch in Robots: A Neuromorphic Approach. ERCIM News, Brain-Inspired Computing(125), 34-51.

Assignment

1st part:  Literature review of piezoelectric event-driven readout and current generator.

2nd part: Design, fabrication and testing of event-driven readout, along with current generator interfacing with a piezoelectric element.

Requirements

MSc students from Microelectronics. Interested students should include their CV, the list of courses attended, and a motivation letter to Dante Muratore or Tiago Costa. 

Contact

dr. Dante Muratore

Bioelectronics Group

Department of Microelectronics

Last modified: 2022-04-29