The University of Southampton

Southampton researchers break classical data bandwidth limit for high performance inductive wireless links

Published: 2 May 2019
ISSCC is the world's premier integrated circuit design conference

Electronic engineers from the University of Southampton have demonstrated the latest advances in inductive wireless links at a prestigious design conference in San Francisco.

Professor William Redman-White and a team of researchers from the School of Electronics and Computer Science presented a new technique that breaks a classical bandwidth limit at the 2019 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).

The Southampton research has addressed fundamental issues in inductive link transmitters, intended for wireless power, radio-frequency identification (RFID) and security systems, where power and data need to be delivered simultaneously.

Such links are limited to simple modulation schemes, with an achievable data rate conventionally limited by circuit compromises required for good power efficiency and range. This is a particular problem where security is required as it restricts the amount of cryptographic information that can be transferred in a practical situation.

The Southampton team included Dr Rares Bodnar, Teerasak Lee and Henry Kennedy, who presented the latest paper at the conference's Techniques for Low-Power & High-Performance Wireless session at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The paper's new technique employs instantaneous adaptive and predictive antenna coil tuning, allowing data modulation rates to exceed classical bandwidth/Q-factor limits, as well as presenting a fully integrated mixed analogue-digital IC implementation in a smart-power complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology.

ISSCC is the world's premier integrated circuit design conference, attracting nearly 4,000 industrial and academic delegates from around the worlds, including large numbers from nearby Silicon Valley. This year's gathering united experts around the theme 'Envisioning the future'.

The event provided a poignant milestone for Professor William Redman-White, a past chairman for the conference's analog committee, as he retires to become an Emeritus Professor.

"As well as obtaining two patents for the technique, this is the second time the team has presented a paper at this conference, a very rare achievement for academic submissions from a single project," he says. "It has marked a particularly satisfying final conclusion to 35 years of analogue IC design research in Southampton."

For more information on the project, see the full ISSCC 2019 paper at A High-Q Resonant Inductive Link Transmit Modulator/Driver for Enhanced Power and FSK/PSK Data Transfer Using Adaptive-Predictive Phase-Continuous Switching Fractional-Capacitance Tuning and the predecessor paper Self-Tuning Resonant Inductive Link Transmit Driver Using Quadrature-Symmetric Phase-Switched Fractional Capacitance.

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