An Ultra High-Frequency 8-Channel Neurostimulator Circuit with 68% Peak Power Efficiency

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Abstract

In order to recruit neurons in excitable tissue, constant current neural stimulators are commonly used. Recently, ultra high-frequency (UHF) stimulation has been proposed and proven to have the same efficacy as constant-current stimulation. UHF stimulation uses a fundamentally different way of activating the tissue: each stimulation phase is made of a burst of current pulses with adjustable amplitude injected into the tissue at a high (e.g., 1 MHz) frequency. This paper presents the design, integrated circuit (IC) implementation, and measurement results of a power efficient multichannel UHF neural stimulator. The core of the neurostimulator is based on our previously proposed architecture of an inductor-based buck-boost dc-dc converter without the external output capacitor. The ultimate goal of this work is to increase the power efficiency of the UHF stimulator for multiple-channel operation, while keeping the number of external components minimal. To this end, a number of novel approaches were employed in the integrated circuit design domain. More specifically, a novel zero-current detection scheme is proposed. It allows to remove the freewheel diode typically used in dc-dc converters to prevent current to flow back from the load to the inductor. Furthermore, a gate-driver circuit is implemented which allows the use of thin gate-oxide transistors as high-voltage switches. By doing so, and exploiting the fundamental working principle of the proposed current-controlled UHF stimulator, the need for a high-voltage supply is eliminated and the stimulator is powered up from a 3.5 V input voltage. Both the current detection technique and the gate driving circuit of the current implementation allow to boost the power efficiency up to 300% when compared to previous UHF stimulator works. A peak power efficiency of 68% is achieved, while 8 independent channels with 16 fully configurable electrodes are used. The circuit is implemented in a 0.18 μm HV process, and the total chip area is 3.65 mm2

Original languageEnglish
Article number8727437
Pages (from-to)882-892
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Buck-boost DC-DC converter
  • high power efficiency
  • low power
  • multichannel
  • neural stimulation
  • ultra high frequency stimulation

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