Ubiquitous Ultra-Low Energy Wireless Sensor and Monitor Networks

EECS Joint Colloquium Distinguished Lecture Series

pic of Jan Rabaey

Professor Jan Rabaey
EECS Department, U.C. Berkeley

Wednesday, April 5, 2000
Hewlett Packard Auditorium, 306 Soda Hall
4:00-5:00 p.m.


Distributed, large-scale sensor information networks combine a number of seemingly contradictory implementation requirements. On the one hand the networks have to be versatile, self-organizing, dynamically reconfigurable, and multi-functional. This implies that the communication and computational components of the sensor nodes need to be adaptive and flexible. On the other hand, extensive large-scale coverage (which implies large numbers) requires that the sensor nodes be inexpensive, have a very small footprint, and consume an extremely low amount of energy to extend their operational lifetimes.

The ever-evolving scaling of the semiconductor technology has enabled new opportunities to provide both flexibility and efficiency, as needed for these self-configuring and adaptive wireless networks, at a low cost and small size. When reducing the minimum feature sizes into the deep sub-micron realm (0.25 micron and below), it becomes possible to integrate more than one million gates on a single die, enabling the co-integration of the interfacing, computation, position location and communication functions into a single silicon circuit. This system-on-a-chip approach not only maximally reduces the size of the sensor node, but also allows the use of advanced circuit architectures which provide the optimal trade-off between flexibility and energy-efficiency. The tight integration of communication and computation functions into a single chip will provide the desired functionality at the lowest possible cost and energy.

The PicoRadio project strives to develop the range of technologies necessary for the realization of ultra-low energy wireless sensor networks. These include the study of multi-hop networks, and media-access layers that support low (but variable)-rate data transmission, while ensuring energy-consumption levels that are close to the theoretical limits. Other issues involve the choice of the implementation platforms and chip architectures that enable the implementation of these advanced algorithms, such that self-contained energy-scavenging solutions become plausible.


Jan M. Rabaey is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley. His interests include virtually all aspects of the design of electronic circuits and systems, with special focus on the exploration of algorithms, architectures, and implementation of signal processing systems and the related design methodologies. Current research is directed towards various aspects of portable, distributed multimedia systems, including low-power design and wireless networking. He is the author of "Digital Integrated Circuits: A Design Perspective", a state-of-the art textbook on digital circuit design (Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-178609-1). He is also the editor/author of "Low Power Design Methodologies", a Kluwer book that presents an in-depth coverage on low-power design ranging from the technology up to the system level.

Jan is currently "the vice-chair" of the Berkeley EECS department, as well as the scientific co-director of the newly formed Berkeley Wireless Research Center (BWRC). He is also the vice-chair of the 2000 Design Automation Conference, to be held in Los Angeles in June 2000.