PhD Dissertation

Submitted by Kenji on Fri, 12/16/2016 - 04:45

Investigating Hot-Electron Phenomena to Enable Unified IoT Platform

With rapid improvements in the semiconductor industry, we have reached the point where the cost to buy a pound of steel is enough to get nearly a billion transistors on a single integrated circuit (IC). And the advent of The Cloud, Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Big Data, among others, has piqued the interest of society in getting ICs installed in every corner of this world. One of the biggest obstacles to achieving this goal is the need of modern ICs to utilize an external power source, which means that one must build sophisticated power distribution schema or deal with reoccurring maintenance to exchange batteries.

The Technology

I propose to inspect the physical phenomena that presents itself in semiconductors, known as Impact Ionized Hot-Electron Injection (IIHEI), and exploit this mechanism to effectively yield large resistances on an IC. Further combining this with floating-gate transistors (an oft avoided technique in academia due to the complexities involved) will facilitate the creation of an analog-to-digital sensor platform that has unified the aspects of sensing, power, and storage on a monolithic chip with operational timescales in years. Such a revolution in a technology platform would empower researchers and practitioners to expand into previously unexplored regions of study. Certain aspects of this research may be under embargo, more information forthcoming in 2017.


This technology could lead to many avenues of applications, for the sake of brevity, two examples are showcased here:

  • A biomedical apparatus for in-vivo progress tracking of bone healing that is enabled by the long-term deployment and battery-less, continuous monitoring capabilities of the aforementioned sensor system. These features are paramount in realizing a noninvasive method for progress tracking, that is lacking in current devices on the market.   Journal article published at IEEE
  • Auditing of our nation's infrastructural assets facilitated by the ubiquitous, long-term monitoring capabilities of this technology that has energy efficient event capture, data filtering, and information storage. Dynamic loads on the Mackinac bridge in Michigan (shown in blue) are constantly affected by wind, traffic conditions, etc. With sub-Hz cutoff filtering, one can extract information correlated to the fatigue of the structural steel on large timescales.   Conference proceeding at IEEE

    Structural health monitoring

Interested in this research? Contact me to learn more!

This research is an extension of previously patented works, US 7757565, US 8056420 & US 9331265.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. DGE-0802267, DGE-1143954 and APP-135127. K. Aono is an International Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (GR14001). Funding for this research provided in part by The National Aeronautics and Space Administration through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship (RC101726,RC103154,RC104374). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, or The National Aeronautics and Space Administration.