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A Sub-500 mu W Interface Electronics for Bionic Ears

Ulusan, Hasan
Muhtaroglu, Ali
Külah, Haluk
This paper presents an ultra-low power current-mode circuit for a bionic ear interface. Piezoelectric (PZT) sensors at the system input transduce sound vibrations into multi-channel electrical signals, which are then processed by the proposed circuit to stimulate the auditory nerves consistently with the input amplitude level. The sensor outputs are first amplified and range-compressed through ultra-low power logarithmic amplifiers (LAs) into AC current waveforms, which are then rectified through custom current-mode circuits. The envelopes of the rectified signals are extracted, and are selectively sampled as reference for the stimulation current generator, armed with a 7-bit user-programmed DAC to enable patient fitting (calibration). Adjusted biphasic stimulation current is delivered to the nerves according to continuous inter-leaved sampling (CIS) stimulation strategy through a switch matrix. Each current pulse is optimized to have an exponentially decaying shape, which leads to reduced supply voltage, and hence similar to 20% lower stimulator power dissipation. The circuit has been designed and fabricated in 180nm high-voltage CMOS technology with up to 60 dB measured input dynamic range, and up to 1 mA average stimulation current. The 8-channel interface has been validated to be fully functional with 472 mu W power dissipation, which is the lowest value in the literature to date, when stimulated by a mimicked speech signal.