Sunday, February 22, 2009

Black Silicon

I really was expecting more from this interview with the founder of SiOnyx on the technology behind "black silicon".

For technical details, skip to the original press releases or the university research pages.

Or even better, check the papers or a couple of their patents describing the fabrication methods:

"The photodetector exhibits a responsivity greater than about 1 A/W for incident wavelengths in a range of about 250 nm to about 1050 nm, and a responsivity greater than about 0.1 A/W for longer wavelengths, e.g., up to about 3.5 microns".

If they can use normal foundries as the interview suggests, this is really something.


I didn't expect back-side illumination to go mainstream this fast.

How Canon builds their camera prototypes.

And I just found this blog covering the world of image sensors (and thanks for adding my blog to the links)


This week brought the news of the confirmation of graphene semiconductor theory. If you want more technical, last year's DAC carried an interesting paper on the topic of graphene FETs. Yes, you can check the DAC proceedings online for free, with the papers, the slides and in some cases youtube links of the talk. Sweeeeet.


Two posts from on the effects on layout of the fabrication steps for nanoscale CMOS: "Lithography for dummies" and "Gridded design rules with lines and cuts".

3-D integration

Or putting chips on top of each other. There will be more detailed posts here, but business is starting to grow in this area. Faster than I thought:


EDA is always on the receiving end (find me an analog designer who is happy with Cadence DF...), so it's refreshing to find a blog such as EDA Graffiti (although too "digito-centric"). From this blog, two nice posts from last week: "EDA: not boring enough" and "The book that changed everything".

In the analog end of EDA, yet another company promising to solve the DfM conundrum via statistical simulations.

Energy harvesting

Managing it in an efficient way is as important (or even more) as harvesting the energy. Nevertheless, it's this last topic which attracts more headlines, and articles such as this (two months old) overview at Electronic Design.

MSc thesis at IMEC

Interested in doing your MSc thesis at IMEC? You can get the whole list here. Why a MSoft Word document? Good question...

The first six in the section on "heterogeneous integrated microsystems" fall under my supervision:

  • Study and realization of a hardware and software platform for imaging systems.
  • Software platform for emulation of image sensor systems.
  • Design of an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) for use in an image sensor readout-circuit.
  • Design of an array of ADCs (analog-to-digital converter) for image sensors.
  • Design of a general purpose digital circuit for the control of an imaging array.
  • Continuous-time/asynchronous signal processing for bio-medical sensor systems.

If interested, follow the procedure described in the document.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Miscellaneous ISSCC posts

From the ISSCC coverage last week:


Reducing the size of cameras is a strong driving force nowadays. Two approaches:

Meanwhile, CCDs are still very much in the picture (pun intended), as this analysis done by ChipWorks of a sensor used by Canon shows.

More on high speed signaling

Plenty of stuff on this area last week:

ADCs and windowing

Related to the piece of software I mentioned earlier, a two part article on Planet Analog: "Windowing high-resolution analog/digital converter data" (Part 1, part 2)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


In the latest edition of EETimes (pdf available, but individual article not yet): "Cell phones warm up to magnetic coupling" by Rick Merritt. It's about charging a battery wirelessly.
Somehow, it manages to mention environmental concerns as a driver for this technology, and yet no mention in the whole article of the power efficiency of these systems. Will you waste more power with this charger than with a conventional one? Most likely.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

High speed signaling

A very interesting area to work on, if you can. A combination of analog and digital IC design, PCB design, system design... And with a lot of coverage lately. A sample from the last week:

  • "Maximize high-speed signal integrity with the right choice of cables, layout, and equalizer ICs" parts one and two at Planet Analog. Although I do not like the random approach to decoupling capacitors. I'm trying to prepare a longer post on that issue, which does not attract as much attention as it deserves.
  • "Panel eyes road to 25 Gb/s backplanes", the new frontier for good ole Ethernet.
  • "High speed systems defy test, tools", or just a few of the hurdles ahead.

More on FPGA

And still another nice technical article on FPGAs.

What's coming on FPGA world

A nice analysis of the new stuff coming from Xilinx, which goes beyond copypasting the press release.

ADC data analysis software

I just discovered this nice new tool for analyzing ADC output data: Wavevision5 from National Semiconductor.


Layoffs are falling hard these days in this industry. Although my employer is relatively safe in this area, they announced a freeze in new hirings.

Anyway, EDN has two interesting articles on the topic: Why the layoffs if we're still profitable? and Life after layoffs: How to move forward after a job loss.

EE Time's 60 startups list

EE Times has updated its 60 startups list.

A quick scan reveals that almost half of them are in California, and the second country with more is the UK, with eight. About one quarter are active in mixed signal/RF design.

Some links are not right, or at least the one for Gigle, the only company from my country in the list (oddly, their website is copyrighted only until 2007...).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Weekly roundup at Planet Analog

For those of you who do not know about it, you should check every week the "Also of Interest and Elementals" collection of links by Bill Schweber over at Planet Analog.

Here's this week's collection. I found particulary interesting the one on Defected Ground Structures.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

BioEngineering: ViroChip

Joe DeRisi, in a 2006 talk from TED, on the ViroChip:

Science and Engineering

Over at Test & Measurement World, an editorial on which are the differences between science and engineering.

Engineering history

Paul Rako gives a lesson on design history (or at least a hint on what that lesson should be).

Engineering history is a neglected field, and the effort of the IEEE history center is to be commended.