Autonomous self-powered and self-calibrated Microsystems for IoT applications



“Autonomous Microsystems” refers to smart electronic systems that are able to sense, process and transmit useful information from the environment while being completely autonomous by harvesting readily available solar, thermal or kinetic ambient energy. Deployed in IoT applications, these smart devices are able to monitor water leakage in a water pipe, blood pressure in human body, temperature of frozen food items, but also humidity, air and water quality in intelligent buildings and smart cities. The design of “autonomous Microsystems” must take into consideration a number of challenging IoT constraints such as low cost, self-calibration to minimize human intervention, and self-power generation to replenish depleted energy resources. Silicon based technology is the only alternative solution offering single-chip solutions featuring the best trade-off in terms of cost/performance and enabling large scale integration and mass volume production leading to large scale deployment of “autonomous microsystem” devices in various emerging IoT applications with minimal human intervention.

This talk will present enabling technologies for IoT sensing addressing key issues related to power consumption, energy harvesting and calibration of “autonomous Microsystems”. Three case studies will be presented, namely: (i) smart vision systems with energy harvesting capabilities, (ii) Batteryless temperature sensing for passive RFID applications and (iii) olfactory sensors with self-calibration capability. The talk will cover state-of-the art technological developments in this area, and outline existing challenges as well as emerging new opportunities for research and innovation in this rapidly growing field. The conclusion of the talk will discuss whether “autonomous microsystems” are becoming a reality or is just another engineering dream idea.


Prof. Amine Bermak received the Masters and PhD degrees, both in electrical and electronic engineering (microelectronics and Microsystems), from Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France in 1994 and 1998, respectively. During his PhD, he was part of the Microsystems and Microstructures Research Group at the French National Research Centre LAAS-CNRS, where he developed a 3D VLSI chip for artificial neural network classification and detection applications in a project funded by Motorola. While finalizing his PhD, he was offered a Post-doc position at the Advanced Computer Architecture group at York University – England, to work on VLSI implementation of CMM neural network for vision applications in a project funded by British Aerospace.

Prof. Bermak was nominated for the 2013 Hong Kong UGC best teacher award (for all HK Universities). He is the recipient of the 2011 University Michael G. Gale Medal for distinguished teaching (Highest University-wide Teaching Award). This gold medal is established to recognize excellence in teaching and only one recipient/year (out-of over 550 faculty) is honored for his/her contribution. Prof. Bermak is also a two-time recipient of the “Engineering School Teaching Excellence Award” in HKUST for 2004 and 2009, respectively.

Prof. Bermak has received many distinguished awards, including the 2016 DAC best design context award, the “Best paper award” at IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and systems ISCAS 2010; the 2004 “IEEE Chester Sall Award”; the IEEE Service Award from IEEE Computer Society and the “Best Paper Award” at the 2005 International Workshop on System-On-Chip for Real-Time Applications. He has published over 250 articles in journals, book chapters and conference proceedings and designed over 50 chips. He has supervised 25 PhD and 16 MPhil students. He has served on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems and IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II. He is also currently serving on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems; IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices and Nature Scientific Reports. He is the guest editor of the November 2010 special issue in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems. Prof. Bermak is a Fellow of IEEE and IEEE distinguished Lecturer. He was the co-director of MIT-HKUST Consortium.