MSc thesis project proposal

[2019] Hardware Design for Battery-Less Devices supporting Intermittent Computing

Project outside the university

Energy Harvesting has started to gain mass adoption in the Internet of Things (IoT). It has removed the need for frequent battery changes in many applications and thereby lowered the operational cost of the system. This has however come at a hardware cost, as such devices still require a battery as a storage element but besides this also need an additional harvester and PMIC. The next step will be to remove the battery entirely and enable battery-less connected devices. Harvested energy sources only produce sufficient energy to directly power devices for a limited period at a time. As a result, energy-harvesting devices operate under the intermittent computing paradigm; they incur frequent power outages. To enable forward progress despite frequent power outages, these systems use non-volatile processors or periodically checkpoint to non-volatile memory.

Key applications will be in several IoT fields. Particularly in Biomedical applications in which batteries are either too large, expensive or dangerous for the patient there is a lot of potential for this technology. Furthermore, in asset tracking and logistics there is a strong need for battery-less devices.

The solution for Intermittent Computing and enabling battery-less devices will be a combination of improved hardware and software. NOWI is working on improving both and the student will be able to receive support from embedded system engineers and analog IC designers.

ABOUT NOWI: NOWI has been founded in 2015 by two former TU Delft students. Currently it is a 18 people team located in YES!DELFT Labs close to the TU Delft campus. NOWI has developed technology that enables Internet of Things devices to live forever. Instead of needing to continuously bring energy to your device in the form of cables and battery changes, NOWI enables companies to use the energy that is already available around the device. This can be light, heat, movement or even radio waves. There is energy all around us that can be used to power IoT devices. With NOWI’s Energy Harvesting PMIC technology it is becoming possible for the first time to effectively use these sources as a reliable power source.


Research Question: What part/piece of the hardware/embedded system needs to be changed for intermittent computing to be a reality?

This graduation topic will involve a research survey to gain a better understanding of where the biggest opportunities lay for hardware improvements. Within the identified domain improvements will be designed and possibly taped-out. Important topics will involve low-power FPGA and low-power non-volatile memory. The graduation deliverable will be a prototype that stores (any kind of) data and retrieve the data after power off.


Student EE-ME or EE-CE. Affinity with FPGA and memories is a pre.

Contact Wouter Serdijn

Bioelectronics Group

Department of Microelectronics

Last modified: 2019-06-07