Ph. D. School in Microelectronics

Department of Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering

University of Pavia



The Ph. D. School educational targets favor flexibility and simplification, to encourage the admission of people from industries and foreign countries and support training periods abroad with international researchers.

The activities carried out during the three-year long Ph. D. course correspond to 180 CFRs (Crediti Formativi per la Ricerca or Educational Research Credits). Among them, 30 CFRs are acquired on the basis of various education activities (including courses, and seminars) and 150 CFRs on the basis of research activities related to the Ph. D. project.

The amount and distribution of CFRs is established by the Academic Board. The basic training is mainly in the first year and concerns fundamental topics, whose knowledge is essential for the selected curriculum. More advanced education activities, which are distributed along the three-year course, aim at introducing the students to emerging research areas, related to their curriculum.

The educational program focuses on research activity. It is carried out within laboratories under the supervision of the tutor and concerns the study, modeling, design, and realization of electronic devices, circuits, and integrated systems.

Some educational activities (such as seminars) are developed in cooperation with the Ph. D. School in Electronics, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering, offering students a wide range of varied themes.

Internationalization is another important educational feature. In particular, it is strongly recommended that Ph. D. students spend a period of study and training at foreign Universities or industries with whom tutors have cooperation agreements.

Dedicated Courses

Integrated Power Management

Credits: 3
Lecture hours: 24
Lecturer: Prof. Piero Malcovati


Integrated power management circuits are key blocks in any modern microelectronic system, thus representing a transversal subject across the whole microelectronic field.
This course has the goal of introducing the latest development in integrated power management systems. Starting from the DC-DC conversion basic concepts, the course will cover the most important design issues, finally showing the latest state-of-the-art developments.


  • Introduction of integrated power management systems.
  • Basic principles of DC-DC conversion: converter topologies, performance metrics, design trade-offs.
  • Inductor-based DC-DC converters: basic principle, implementation details and design take-offs.
  • Switched-capacitor DC-DC converters: basic principle, implementation details, and design take-offs.
  • Actual examples based on the latest updates of the state-of-the-art.

Microelectronic Circuits for Radiation Detector Readout

Credits: 3
Lecture hours: 24
Lecturer: Prof. Lodovico Ratti


The purpose of the course is two-fold. On the one hand, it will provide the students with a solid background for practical noise problem handling. On the other hand, it will present and discuss a set of techniques for minimum noise design of charge sensitive amplifiers and filters in integrated technology.
After an introduction on fundamental definitions, methods, and tools for the treatment of noise in electronic circuits, the course will discuss the main features of readout chains for capacitive sensors, with emphasis on CMOS IC technology and design optimization. The final part of the course will focus on some recent developments addressing power and dynamic range issues.


  • Mathematical and statistical tools and methods for solving noise problems. Definitions, Campbell’s and Carson’s theorems.
  • Fundamentals on noise sources. Thermal noise, flicker noise, shot noise.
  • Signal formation in radiation detectors. Ramo’s theorem.
  • Readout channels for capacitive detectors. Optimum chain architecture.
  • Time invariant and time variant shaping. Weighting function theory.
  • Optimization techniques for minimum noise design of charge preamplifiers and readout chains. Capacitive matching, optimum filter.
  • Shaper-less readout chains.
  • Charge preamplifiers with dynamic signal compression.

Microelectronics Research Topics for Industrial Applications

Credits: 3
Lecture hours: 24
Lecturers: see below


The course aims at exploring different advanced research topics belonging to the microelectronics area that have significant industrial interest as a common point. Each of the four topics will be covered by a set of lectures having an overall duration on the order of 6 hours, as is deemed to be adequate to provide both an overview and a better insight of advanced details. To emphasize the academia-industry link, the lectures will be delivered by leading experts from both academia and industry.


  • High linearity amplifiers design strategy and topology comparison (Prof. R. Castello)
    This 6 hours set of lectures will first introduce, in a rigorous but intuitive way, the non-linearity mechanism associated with the different stages of a push-pull amplifier. After that, a set of key techniques for the minimization of closed-loop distortion will be introduced. Finally the impact of different topologies on the closed-loop distortion associated with the different non-linearity mechanisms previously discussed will be presented.
  • A three-dimensional platform for optofluidic and biosensing applications based on high aspect-ratio silicon microstructures fabricated by electrochemical micromachining (Prof. S. Merlo)
    This 4 hours set of lectures will start describing the available 3D silicon platform with details regarding the adopted fabrication process steps. Description of optical characterization of hybrid high-order 1D photonic crystals with particular emphasis on the spectral reflectivity in the near-infrared (NIR) will follow. The lectures will continue discussing and presenting optofluidic microsystems for bulk refractive index measurements and label-free optical detection of C-reactive proteins. Finally, silicon microstructures for 3D cell cultures will be presented.
  • Design techniques for space applications: from digital to mixed-signal ICs (Dr. C. Calligaro and Dr. U. Gatti – RedCat Devices)
    In some environments such as space and high-energy physics experiments, it is required that the electronic components have an adequate level of radiation hardness, in terms of Total Ionizing Dose and Single-Event Effects. Commercial integrated technologies do not have a sufficient radiation resiliency level to guarantee adequate reliability for all these environments, thus leading to the need for finding new solutions. In this lecture, the basic requirements, issues, and solutions related to the design of custom digital ICs for such applications are firstly discussed, with particular focus on the so-called Radiation-Hardened-By-Design (RHBD) techniques. The development of complete RHBD digital libraries (including digital ports and input/output circuits) using standard sub-micrometric CMOS processes is presented. These libraries also include rad-hard static memory cells which have been used to implement several SRAM memory devices, whose sizes range from 512 Kbit up to 4 Mbit. The same RHBD techniques have been propagated to mixed-signal ICs, since at present the main part of the available commercial components is made radiation resistant by using dedicated packages or processes, with penalties on costs and weight. A quick overview of issues related to the design and layout of data converters and auxiliary analog blocks is presented. Finally, a further section of this set of lectures is devoted to the description of test techniques under radiations, namely Gamma Ray, Protons, and Heavy Ions.
  • mmWave integrated circuits (Prof. A. Mazzanti)
    The availability of silicon transistors with a cut-off frequency in excess of 100 GHz, made possible by the continuous scaling down of the feature size, stimulated an intense research activity worldwide aimed at developing integrated transceivers at mmWave (30 GHz-300 GHz). This set of lectures starts with an overview of emerging applications that take advantage from the short wavelength and wide available spectrum in this band, and then continues by focusing on specific design techniques and open challenges that push further research activities. Examples of the research achievements from Pavia University will also be described.

Seminars 2016/17

  • Antonio Liscidini (University of Toronto, Canada), "Passive switched-capacitor filters and filtering ADCs”, 26/06/2017, Organizer: R. Castello.
  • Juan Manuel Carrillo (University of Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain), “On the Use of Bulk-Driven MOS Transistors in Low-Voltage Analog Design”, 30/05/2017, Organizer: Prof. G. Torelli
  • Juan Manuel Carrillo (University of Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain), “Circuit Techniques for CMOS Low-Voltage Analog Design”, 29/05/2017, Organizer: Prof. G. Torelli
  • Kaushik Sengupta (Princeton University), “mmWave-to-THz-to-Nano-optical Systems in Silicon: A Circuits-Systems-EM Codesign Approach”, 17/05/2017, Organizer: Prof. F. Svelto
  • Yongxin Guo (National University of Singapore, Singapore) “Recent Progress on Antennas and Wireless Power for Biomedical Applications”, 28/03/2017, Organizer: Prof. M. Bozzi
  • Weisi Lin (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), “Just-Noticeable Difference (JND) Formulation: Turning Limitations Of Human Senses Into System Advantages”, 06/12/2016, Organizer: Prof. E. Bonizzoni - Prof. A. Cabrini
  • Qiuting Huang (ETH Zurich), “Integrated Circuits Research for cIOT and Wearable Devices at ETH Zurich”,         21/11/2016, Organizer: Prof. R. Castello
  • Ke Wu (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), “Millimeter-wave Identification, Sensing and Tracking (MIST) Systems for Future Internet of Things and Smart Environment”, 07/11/2016, Organizer: Prof. M. Bozzi

Course “Industrial Topics on Microelectronics“ 2016/17

  • Corrado Villa (MICRON), “Emerging Memories: Design Techniques for Improved Reliability and Scaling“, 22/05/2017
  • Roberto Gastaldi (RedCat Device), “Effects of High Energy Radiation on Semiconductor Memories”, 15/05/2017
  • Marco Cerchi and Thomas Beghelli (AMS), “AMS: Company Overview, ASIC Development Flow and Testing Activities in Pavia Design Center”, 08/05/2017
  • Giulio Ricotti (STMicroelectronics), “Evolution of the Smart Power Technologies and Design Techniques toward Low Power and High Density in High Voltage ICs”, 10/04/2017
  • Tamer Sinanoglu and Ivano Galdi (Bosch Sensortec), “Bosch Sensortec: Company Overview, MEMS Sensors and ASIC Design for MEMS Sensors”, 02/04/2017
  • Salvatore Portaluri and Luca Bertolini (Maxim Integrated), “Maxim Integrated: Company Overview and Innovation in Power Management”, 27/03/2017
  • Raffaele Boi and Giovanni Frattini (Texas Instruments), “Texas Instruments Activities in Italian Design Center in Rozzano (MI): Sensor Front-Ends and Power Management”, 06/03/2017
  • Claudio Bona (STMicroelectronics), “Radio for Infotainment in Car Radio: an Old or a New Device?”, 19/12/2016
  • Massimo Grasso, Davide Respigo, Marco Palma, and Stefano Ruzza (Infineon), “Challenges in Power Management for Motor Drive Applications”, 28/11/2016