Design of Low-Power Front-End Integrated Circuits for In-Probe Ultrasound Applications
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This thesis explores the design and implementation of low-power integrated circuits for in-probe ultrasound applications. In such systems, the power requirement is very tight to prevent over-heating of the tissue. In this work, we consider CMOS integration with capacitive micro-machined ultrasonic transducers (CMUT), which have small dimensions, and therefore, the overall area for the electronics is very limited. This research aims to develop and implement circuits for realization of such miniature low-power in-probe ultrasound systems. The first part of the thesis explores the design and implementation of a low-power, low-noise variable gain transimpedance ampli_er (TIA). The TIA amplifier as the first amplifier in the receiver chain is designed to provide variable gain, while adding the minimum possible noise to the transducer noise. A prototype of the chip is fabricated using a 65nm CMOS process technology. A transimpedance gain range of 79_97dB is measured. A noise figure (NF) of 3dB at a 5MHz center frequency, with only 180_W power consumption is obtained, and a total chip area of 76_m_50_m is achieved. Afterward, the design of one receive channel as a partial implementation of a digital beamforming system (DBF) is discussed. For this purpose, one variable gain amplifier, and an ADC as the main building blocks for one receive channel are implemented. The main key challenge in DBF systems is the requirement for the ADC power consumption, since a dedicated ADC is required for each single channel. In this work, a very low-power successive approximation register (SAR) ADC is employed to limit the power consumption of each receive channel. In addition, by using the ADC gain adjustments along with TIA variable-gain ampli_cation, the overall dynamic range is improved. The circuit is reconfigured for two operation modes, high-dynamicrange mode, and low-power mode. The chip is designed and fabricated in a 65nm standard CMOS process technology. An overall dynamic range of 72 dB is measured from the receiver circuit. The overall power consumption of the receiver is limited to only 240_W for a sampling frequency of 30 MHz, and it occupies an area of 76_m_170_m. Based on the low power consumption and the small chip area obtained, the receiver circuit design can be scaled up in the future to a fully-integrated receiver circuit capable of reading out a 2D array with hundreds of ultrasound elements. In the last part of the thesis, we investigate a 3D-IC integration with CMUT transducer. By stacking dies vertically, the available area for electronics circuits can be more efficiently used. A stochastic flash ADC is implemented in a 3D stacked IC. An all digital scalable system is obtained by using only the digital standard cells and standard digital tools. Some additional in-house tools were used to implement through silicon via (TSV) insertion for 3D-IC implementation. In this work, the ADC is partitioned into two stacked dies, mainly by considering separating the analog and the digital parts. Two di_erent integration topologies for 3D-IC and the CMUT array are considered and compared. A comparison of two different TSV insertion methods is performed in the 3D stacked TSV implementation. The 3D-IC is implemented using 130nm Globalfoundries device technology and TSV technology. A comparison of the performance between the 2D and 3DIC implementation is performed to demonstrate the 3D bene_ts. A 20% improvement in power consumption is obtained in the 3D implementation, owing to the smaller interconnect parasitics. Thanks to the vertical stacking dies, a 40% footprint reduction is achieved in the 3D implementation.