WaferCatalyst Post-Graduate Project List 2013/14

Project List for 2013/14

The project list for WaferCatalyst Project Program  for 2013-14 is as follows.


Project Titles

1. DC-DC converter for inertial sensor applications:

DC to DC converters are becoming very important in today’s portable computing and communication technologies. Battery operated electronic devices like laptops and cellular phone often use higher (or lower) than battery voltage for biasing and input/output (I/O) circuits. This necessitates the conversion of the battery’s DC voltage to another DC voltage. Usually DC-DC converter is regulated such that the change of output voltage with output current is very low.

The research proposes to design a high-efficiency DC-DC converter with programmable output voltage level. Using a CMOS technology with 1.8V core voltage and 3.3V I/O voltage, it is required to design a circuit that gives one of three outputs 1.8V, 5V and 7.5V selected by a 2-bit input control signal. The rationale for the 1.8V and 7.5V outputs is to be used in “reading from”/”writing to” a ROM, while the 5V output would be used in driving a block that needs a USB voltage level.

Recommended group: 2-3 students


2. Design of Wireless Battery-less Transceiver for Biomedical Applications  

Battery-less circuit applications are becoming very important is a number of fields like commerce, security, military and medicine. Using batteries is not a feasible option in many applications (e.g. RFID monitoring devices) since it would make such applications hard to maintain, expensive and less reliable. Thus battery-less option is highly preferred in many cases.

The project envisions the design of a reliable battery-less implanted sensor/transmitter for the patients who need continuous monitoring for indicating parameters (e.g. pulse rate and blood characteristics like glucose level). These sensors are proposed to use MEMS technology and are to be attached with a transmitter for communicating sensor information and a unique ID for each patient.

The detailed specifications for the application under research should be determined according to the type of medical monitoring application that should carefully be selected through surveys of the latest medical research and/or in cooperation with a medical third party.

Recommended group: (2/3) – (3/4) students


3. Characterization and Implementation of Injection Locked Frequency Dividers of even and/or odd division ratios.   

High-speed frequency dividers have vital role in today’s communication technology especially wireless communication technology. Systems like frequency synthesis and multiplexing (MUX/DEMUX) require high speed frequency dividers.

Digital frequency dividers are used usually up to few Giga Hertz frequency ranges, but frequency divider power consumption is going up with frequency. This can be a problem from two points of view, one is that it is not suitable for portable battery operated devices; the second is that having a high frequency switching activity generates high noise in present SOCs. This mandates a high frequency divider without such high power dissipation.

Injection Locked Frequency Divider (ILFD) has a big advantage over the digital frequency divider in terms of power dissipation for comparable speed performance. The common limitation of ILFD is the narrow frequency range.

The proposed research project is to design a “/2” and “/3” ILFD with input frequency about 10GHz and locking range around 1GHz for no more than 4dbm injected signal power and low power dissipation compared to current literature. The selection of dividing ratio should be programmable with a single bit.

Recommended group: 1-2 students


4. Serial transceiver (LVDS/CML) at 2 Gpbs for data communication with Display terminals.

The serial interfaces are widely used in various applications in consumer, computer peripherals and aerospace markets. With ultra-high speed on-board communications the parallel interfaces was replaced with serial interfaces to have lower power consumption for the same speed and noise immunity.

The proposed research is to design low power high speed serial front-end along with a high speed serializer Deserializer (SerDes) back-end. The target data rate is 2 Gbps with optimizing power dissipation and data jitter compared to current literature.

Recommended group: 3-4 students


 I’m interested, what should I do?

Instructions to Students:

If interested please send email to shahmed@kacst.edu.sa with your full name, university name, supervisor name and WaferCatalyst Portal ID. To get WaferCatalyst Portal ID, just sign up for free at http://portal-wafercat.com (note the DASH ‘-‘).


Instructions to Supervisors:

Please send us your name and university name at shahmed@kacst.edu.sa.


Project Terms and Guidelines

Design Support

  • Students undertaking any of the projects should register themselves on WaferCatalyst portal (http://portal-wafercat.com) and send request to be added to the respective project page on this portal. The request is to be sent to shahmed@kacst.edu.sa.
  • This project page would provide them with relevant resources and provide avenues to discuss with peers and experts on project related queries.


  • The following project reports are to be sent to WaferCatalyst during the project;
    • Final project report
    • Students would be responsible for maintaining highest level of academic integrity in their work in the items submitted to WaferCatalyst. Any violation of best practices can result in the student barred from access to design resources and using WaferCatalyst name in their final report. Moreover WaferCatalyst reserves its right to not include such work in any award considerations.
    • The content of the reports submitted to WaferCatalyst would be licensed to KACST without any limitation of usage rights.


  • All students may be eligible to receive general resources to install/setup the design tools needed for the project.
  • It is highly recommended that universities or institutions sign the ‘WaferCatalyst Client Agreement’ to be eligible to receive free Process Development Kits (PDK) from WaferCatalyst recommended partner manufacturers.
  • Universities/institutions that have signed WaferCatalyst Client Agreement may be eligible for free support for the PDK setup.

Fabrication Awards

  • Only designs performed with the recommended process development kits from WaferCatalyst partner foundries would be considered for “WaferCatalyst Project Award” which may allow a free fabrication area to award winners.