Skip to Main Content
In future systems with relatively unreliable and unpredictable energy sources such as harvesters, the system power supply may become non-deterministic. For energy effective operations, Vdd is an important parameter in any meaningful system control mechanism. Reliable and accurate on-chip voltage sensors are therefore indispensible for the power and computation management of such systems. Existing voltage sensing methods are not suitable because they usually require a stable and known reference (voltage, current, time, frequency, etc.), which is difficult to obtain in this environment. This paper describes an autonomous reference-free voltage sensor designed using an asynchronous counter powered by the charge on a capacitor and a small controller. Unlike existing methods, the voltage information is directly generated as a digital code. The sensor, fabricated in the 180 nm technology node, was tested successfully through performing measurements over the voltage range from 1.8 V down to 0.8 V.