VINNOVA Industrial Excellence Center - System Design on Silicon
2008-01-01 -> 2017-12-31
The main areas for the centers research activities are Wireless Communication, mm-wave Applications, Automotive Electronics, Medical Applications, Nano and Circuits in Accelerators: ESS and Maxlab IV. In addition to that, the center will also run activities within the area of laser measurement and mobile/pervasive computing as described in the below paragraphs. The following projects and activities are either running or in a startup-mode:
1. Laser Measurement Projects
Following the initiatives within ESS we see that the expertise within circuit design can be
explored to create innovations within new areas. Through contacts with LUIS (Lund University Innovation Systems) two projects has been initiated within the area of measurements with Lasers. Both projects include advancing the measurement possibilities by using FPGAs as computational engines. The first together with the Department of Chemical Physics at LU is regarding implementing digital cavities for accurate measurement of high-frequency signals in for instance digital spectroscopy. The project has been conducted as a Master’s Thesis project and has already resulted in one journal paper. The second project has just been initiated with the group of Anne L’Huillier at Atomic Physics and is regarding measurement of ultrafast laser pulses with again advancing the techniques by utilizing FPGAs. The combination of their respective expertise and the knowledge of FPGA implementation at EIT and within SoS creates a very strong environment. In addition to advancing the measurement techniques, both projects to look at different business aspects of the implementation, such as tradeoffs between performance and cost. The results from this work will potentially be the first step towards developing a commercial product.
2. Wireless Communication
It is clear that we will continue to focus upon wireless communications, since so much of the activities of the current industrial member of the Center are strongly related to this application field. In the next four years we intend to start addressing the future wireless communications standard Long Term Evolution Advanced (LTE-Advanced), which truly poses unheard-of challenges in the design of radio transceivers for mobile internet at GHz speed. Beyond the aggressive choice of communications standard, it is our goal to deploy the full power of digital signal processing in commercially available nanometer CMOS technologies to improve the performance of the analog/RF functions in the radio. Strangely enough, this digitally-assisted approach has been pursued only in a half-hearted fashion so far. This part will benefit tremendously by the approved SSF grant DARE. A major challenge is the ever increasing number of radio frequency bands to be used in mobile phones. This puts stringent requirements on the antenna interface, resulting in a large number of expensive and bulky duplexers, filters and switches. We therefore plan to continue, and increase, our efforts in reducing the number of antenna interface components. Due to the high performance requirements, we will investigate not only CMOS technology, but also micromechanical (MEMS) devices, which are now mature enough to start being used in practical applications.
3. mm-wave Applications
Research on mm-wave applications is one of the strongholds in the academic section of Center. So far, almost all world-wide research in this field has been carried out in academic institutes, and industrial products are just barely starting hitting the market. Nevertheless, the vision of the availability of a practically unbound bandwidth allowing communication rates in the range of tens of Gb/s has started exerting a strong appeal on some of the major actors. In the case of the Center, we remark that the Center companies possess a limited in-house know-how in the IC design of mm-wave transceivers, which is the reason why it is strategically important to nurture and develop such a research line in the academic branch of the Center. Apart from the frequency at which communications occur, the fundamental structure of a radio transceiver is remarkably constant, which means that it is possible to re-use the world-class RF-communications know-how of the Center companies, and at the same time to efficiently transfer back to them the newly acquired experience in the design of the front-end blocks in the mm-wave radio.
4. Automotive Electronics
An application area that has not yet been addressed by the center, but that has strong potential for future growth, is automotive electronics. The amount of electronics in cars grows rapidly, and in a modern car a significant part of the cost is electronics. Wireless technology becomes increasingly important to reduce the amount of cables, which are both costly and add significant weight. The centers strength in wireless technology thus gives us an excellent position for entering this application area. We could for instance address wireless communication from the multitude of sensors used in present and future cars. Of particular interest are new features to improve traffic safety with vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications, and automotive radar systems. The centers competence in wireless and mm-wave gives us an excellent position for entering the automotive field, which has bright future forecasts. We already have one partner, Infineon, who has a significant automotive business. It would therefore be strategic to direct part of our research towards this area, and strive to attract more automotive electronics companies to the center.
5. Medical Applications
We foresee that wireless communication definitely is moving into medical applications, both for communication with e.g. implants, and for monitoring patients remotely. In the first area we have increased our efforts mainly through the SSF UPD projects that conclude 2014. With respect to the latter we have applied for continued funding within a related area from SSF regarding communication with and localization of a capsule endoscope. This project is sought together with applicants from the medical faculty and from biotechnology, responsible for developing novel sensors to enhance functionality of the endoscope. Our role will be to enhance communication performance and to develop localization technology, a very rudimentary function today. Our long work in circuits for pacemakers has continued and we are targeting a processor based system-on- chip solution in collaboration with EPFL. Another project proposal has been drafted with respect to Brain Machine Interface (BMI). This relates directly to several of the research areas within SoS. The project proposal is pursued with researchers from the biomedical signal processing group and the Neuronano Research Center (NRC) from the medical faculty. With respect to patient monitoring there are initiatives within the region and we see that this is definitely a growing application for wireless communication. We are closely monitoring this to see its implications with respect to SoS activities. As a concrete example we can mention a tight dialogue together with Mobile Heights, Region Skåne and Sony Mobile around implementation potential of SoS-technology in a project they have just started. The project is partly financed by VINNOVA and aims to provide a so called "Minimal Viable Device". The device being defined as an open horizontal platform, will act as a WiFi-Bluetooth- BAN-gateway with well-defined API:s. Third party developers can then leverage from the platform when building miniaturized communicating body sensing devices in addressing different kinds of M- Health demands.
It is very hard to predict the potential in emerging technologies based on results from basic research only. In this respect it is crucial to verify the predictions in key applications as well. Lund has an extremely strong position in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and several emerging technologies have been developed and further are under studies within the research environment in Lund. These attract strong international recognition. Within the SoS, we use the knowledge base developed in the areas of circuit design and hardware implementation to direct the basic research towards possible application areas. Although the actual research mainly is funded under other programs (VINNOVA, SSF, and VR), the Center provides an important basis for the work with good national, international and industrial networks. The outcomes of this verification process may result in important applications both within the areas currently covered in the center, as well as in related application areas.
7. Circuits in Accelerators: ESS and Maxlab IV
In the previous evaluation report we had a section regarding Circuits in Accelerators with the statement “From a Lund perspective, two outstandingly large research initiatives have been launched very recently: the European Spallation Source (ESS, http://ess‐scandinavia.eu/about‐esss), a multidisciplinary scientific research centre harnessing the world’s most powerful neutron source, and MAX IV (http://www.maxlab.lu.se), a national facility for materials research based on synchrotron radiation.” The statement was followed by a discussion regarding research and development opportunities. We are happy to be able to say that with respect to ESS, the department of EIT has been awarded a contract with ESS regarding as sub-project referred to as “low-level RF”. The goal of the project is to develop a measurement system that keeps track of the positioning of the proton beam in the linear accelerator. A the time of this writing one researcher has been hired to implement control algorithms on an FPGA based platform and two more hiring are being considered, one RF-engineer and one control algorithm developer. The total budget of the project is 33MSEK including a considerable amount for equipment. Regarding Maxlab we have unfortunately not seen much progress but the contacts are still.
8. Regional Growth
The center interacts with all sizes of industries from startups to SMEs and large scale actors like Ericsson. Being involved in hands-on activities in the entire industrial ecosystem secures the adoption
of all qualities from creativity, agility and speed (Startups + SMEs) to resources, distribution, financial- and marketing power (large companies). Large companies need startups and vice versa and the center connects to them all through established agreements as follows:
Large companies (Ericsson, Sony, Infineon, Cadence, STM). The SoS-project has since long well
established and tight cooperations. Much SoS-research results have found its way into Sony
Mobile phones and Ericsson mobile platforms.
Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs. SoS-partnership is through LTH established with Mobile
Heights which is a member financed, non-profit organization strengthening the Skåne-region as a hotspot for mobile innovation. The Mobile Heights 50 highly qualified organizations represent to a large extent the SME mobile innovation power of the region and many of them are potential adopters of the research results brought forward by SoS.
Startup community through LUIS. The SoS center is partnering up with LU Innovation System, LUIS, who has the goal to contribute to increased growth in Sweden by ensuring that research findings take off to commercial adoption. The holding company, LU Innovation System AB, is owned by the Swedish Government but is managed by Lund University. Through the company, the University can form new research-based companies and license out research results to established companies. Through the holding company LUIS can also provide financing to newly formed companies. Since 1999 LUIS have contributed to more than 60 new companies, over 2 300 direct man- labour years and over SEK 635 million in tax revenues. LUIS provides startup-eager researchers with business advice and coaching through business developers, patent advisors, communication officers and legal advisors. SoS project work interact closely to LUIS in a number of project approaches. SoS and partnering projects will set up a so called wireless AIM-Day during Q1-2014 where the researchers will be matched to innovation adopters and financiers.
9. SIA/SIO in Wireless Communication
During the fall of 2013 an initiative to create an SIA, and a following SIO, within the area of wireless communication was initiated through industrial and academic partners. A proposal was submitted by Wireless@KTH in November with the academic partners SoS from Lund University, GHz Center and CHASE from Chalmers and Linköping University and the industrial partners Ericsson, SAAB and RUAG. While the application was rejected on formal grounds due to excessive page count the work continues, both by submitting a revised SIA application in January 2014 and an upcoming SIO proposal. Combing a strong industrial presence with excellent academic partners, including several VINNOVA centers, we see this as a truly important effort for the future of wireless communication in Sweden.
One of the initiatives following the restructuring of Sony Mobile is the creation of MAPCI - Mobile and Pervasive Computing Institute at Lund University. MAPCI is a collaborative research institute between academia, industry and the Skåne region with the goal of laying the foundation for a truly connected world through world-class research, disruptive innovation, and industry collaboration. The main focus area of the institute is Mobile Cloud Computing and the mobile ecosystem building on the regional strength in Systems design and control, Software and hardware design in mobile and wireless systems. The institute was inaugurated in 2013 by the founding partners, Sony Mobile Communication, Region Skåne and Lund University. How this will affect SoS and related research is still to be seen. SoS director Viktor Öwall is member of the MAPCI board as a representative of Lund University.