Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Electrical & Systems Engineering

First Advisor

Jan Van der Spiegel

Second Advisor

Nader Engheta


One in every fifty Americans suffers from paralysis, and approximately 23% of paralysis cases are caused by spinal cord injury. To help the spinal cord injured gain functionality of their paralyzed or lost body parts, a sensor-neural-actuator system is commonly used. The system includes: 1) sensor nodes, 2) a central control unit, 3) the neural-computer interface and 4) actuators. This thesis focuses on a sensor-neural interface and presents the research related to circuits for the sensor-neural interface.

In Chapter 2, three sensor designs are discussed, including a compressive sampling image sensor, an optical force sensor and a passive scattering force sensor. Chapter 3 discusses the design of the analog front-end circuit for the wireless sensor network system. A low-noise low-power analog front-end circuit in 0.5μm CMOS technology, a 12-bit 1MS/s successive approximation register (SAR) analog-to-digital converter (ADC) in 0.18μm CMOS process and a 6-bit asynchronous level-crossing ADC realized in 0.18μm CMOS process are presented. Chapter 4 shows the design of a low-power impulse-radio ultra-wide-band (IR-UWB) transceiver (TRx) that operates at a data rate of up to 10Mbps, with a power consumption of 4.9pJ/bit transmitted for the transmitter and 1.12nJ/bit received for the receiver. In Chapter 5, a wireless fully event-driven electrogoniometer is presented. The electrogoniometer is implemented using a pair of ultra-wide band (UWB) wireless smart sensor nodes interfacing with low power 3-axis accelerometers. The two smart sensor nodes are configured into a master node and a slave node, respectively. An experimental scenario data analysis shows higher than 90% reduction of the total data throughput using the proposed fully event-driven electrogoniometer to measure joint angle movements when compared with a synchronous Nyquist-rate sampling system.

The main contribution of this thesis includes: 1) the sensor designs that emphasize power efficiency and data throughput efficiency; 2) the fully event-driven wireless sensor network system design that minimizes data throughput and optimizes power consumption.

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