Student teams in the course Monolithic Amplifier Circuits (EECS 413), Fall
2008, worked not only for good grades, but competed for prize money thanks
to the sponsorship of Analog Devices. The course is an introduction to CMOS
analog and mixed signal design, and students complete a major design project
through the course of the semester. Two teams of students took first and
second prize in the EECS 413 Design Contest.
Jeffrey Fredenburg, Eddie Hoskin, Nick
First place and $1,500 went to the team of Nick Collins, Jeffrey
Fredenburg, and Eddie Hoskin for their project, "Charge Pump Assisted
Class-AB Headphone Amplifier." At the time, all were undergraduate students
majoring in electrical engineering. The students designed an audio amplifier
for use in portable electronic devices (such as iPods or cell phones) to
drive low-impedance earbud-type headphones. Hoskin said the challenge was to
deliver significant power to the headphones, yet do so using a relatively
low-power source. Their design, pictured to the right, allowed them to
quadruple the available power with very little distortion.
Zeshan Ahmad, Khaled Al-Ashmouny, Kuo-Ken
Second prize and $500 was awarded to the team of Zeshan Ahmad, Khaled Al-Ashmouny,
and Kuo-Ken Huang for their project, "A 1-V, 900-nW Low-Noise Amplifiers for
Neural Recording Applications." All three are electrical engineering
graduate students studying Circuits and Microsystems. "Neural recording microsystems must operate at very low power in order to prevent tissue
heating which damages the brain cells (neurons), explains Al-Ashmouny. We
designed an energy efficient low-noise nano-power amplifier that will enable
the recording of thousands of simultaneous neural activities without heating
or damaging brain tissue." Their design will also allow neuroscientists to
shrink the size of the probes while multiplying their number, thereby safely
increasing the amount of information they can gain. The students are
interested in commercializing their work.
"It's amazing what the groups design in a short time, said
Prof. Mike Flynn.
Flynn regularly seeks sponsorship from industry to give students added
incentive in the course. It also allows industry to see what the students
are doing. Fredenburg said "it was exciting to see all of
the other excellent presentations and know one would win."
EECS 413 is a major design experience course for undergraduate
students, or can be taken for regular credit by graduate students. All
designs are implemented in a commercial 0.25μm CMOS process, and are aided
by a full suite of industrial-grade CAD tools from Cadence.