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Research Group: µSystems

Research Group: µSystems

Our group builds on Newcastle’s traditional strengths in microelectronics.

We work at the leading edge of all aspects of microsystems.

Microsystems technology is an important basis for many real-world electronic systems. It permeates many aspects of our lives, from mobile phones to medical devices, to the new world of the Internet of Things.

We expect such systems to be ever more capable, energy-efficient and autonomous. This means exploring new architectures and applications. Many systems provide simple signal analysis. Our research will help them to migrate to full artificial intelligence and machine learning. Also, increased capability cannot come at the cost of reduced battery life. Thus, there is a significant impetus for investigation into new hardware design methods. We also need to train a new generation of engineers who can implement them.

uSystems student

We have a proud history of serving the electronics community. Our expertise spans circuits and design methodologies through to fully functional systems. We perform world-leading research while training the next generation of engineers.

Our interests encompass many areas.

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We have built our international renown over several decades. We are the world leader in asynchronous and low-power circuits and systems.

We are renowned for promoting industrial adoption of formal design and verification methods. In recent years, we have expanded into four domains.

Our current activities

We focus on the challenges of fundamental research. We are moving the current boundaries of microelectronic circuits and systems. Our research leads to improvements in speed, reliability, energy consumption, size and cost of design, manufacturing and maintenance.

Our interests evolve with the needs of society and the environment, and with the progress of underlying technologies.

Interdisciplinary research

We apply our expertise in electronics, algorithms and mathematical models to other fields. These include Medicine, Life Sciences, Manufacturing and Business.


Taught Programmes

From day one, our Electrical and Electronic Engineering Undergraduate Programmes give students a path to become a professional engineer addressing major global challenges.

Our Electrical and Electronic Engineering Postgraduate Taught (MSc) Programmes equip students with the advanced skills and expertise to help shape the world. 

Industrial lectures

  • Technology in electronic microsystems is fast evolving. Thus, industrial alignment is crucial for our teaching and research. We regularly invite renowned technological experts from industry to deliver lectures. These lectures complement our academic curricula with industrial relevance.


Our research makes an impact in both academia and industry.

Success stories

Start-ups and commercialisation

We train the next generation of engineers. We also encourage our students to take up entrepreneurial initiatives. This includes startups and other commercialisation activities. We have successfully spun out translational research initiatives in the recent past. These include iGLX, Elastix, and Temporal Computing.

Johnson Fernandes is a PhD alumnus of the group. He recently formed his IoT startup, EquiWatt. The company is based around energy metering and management for smart homes and offices.

We are currently exploring opportunities for spinning out businesses in the field of AI and Design Automation.

Engaging with industry

Some of our research activities are directly funded by our industrial partners.

Designing industrially relevant training for our researchers is crucial for us. We engage with industries and invite key technological experts for lectures and seminars. Dr Shidhartha Das from Arm Research is currently an RAEng-sponsored Visiting Professor with our group.

We have past and current collaborations with:

  • Arm Research
  • Intel
  • Dialog Semiconductor
  • Analog Devices

We have long -term collaborations with local SMEs, such as EquiWatt and Temporal Computing.

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PhD opportunities

We produce high quality graduates who go on to forge successful careers across the world, in many fields.

We have a successful history of producing high quality PhD graduates.

We tackle the challenges of evolving pervasive applications such as:

  • Internet of Things
  • Autonomous Devices
  • Bio-implantable Microsystems

Our expertise covers fundamental and applied research in complex microsystems engineering. It includes:

  • circuits, architectures, algorithms, and systems
  • design automation tools
  • designing systems with low to zero energy footprints
  • converting energy to computation
  • communication with maximum energy utilisation in a wide band of operating conditions

Available PhDs

We regularly provide financial support to our PhD students on a case-by-case basis. There are opportunities to work within our current research projects with external funding. Contact the µSystems leader, Professor Alex Yakovlev, or Dr Patrick Degenaar, for further details.

We are seeking to recruit PhD candidates in the following areas. These areas are examples and non-exclusive. Contact the group’s academic staff for other possibilities.

Collaborations with academic and research teams

For years, we have had fruitful collaborations and joint projects with UK and overseas groups:

  • Southampton (Profs Bashir Al-Hashimi, Geoff Merrett and Andrew Brown)
  • Manchester (Prof Steve Furber)
  • Imperial (Profs Peter Cheung and George Constantinides)
  • Cambridge (Prof Simon Moore)
  • Bristol (Profs Bernard Stark and Kerstin Eder, Dr Dinesh Pamunuwa)
  • UPC Barcelona (Profs Jordi Cortadella and Josep Carmona)
  • Politecnico di Torino (Prof Luciano Lavagno)
  • TU Vienna (Prof Andreas Steininger)
  • IHP Frankfurt on Oder (Dr Milos Krstic)
  • TU Denmark (Prof Jens Sparsoe)
  • TU Trondheim (Prof Snorre Aunet)
  • Fern Universitaet Hagen (Prof Joerg Desel)
  • Augsburg (Prof Walter Vogler)
  • CEA-LETI (Dr Pascal Vivet)
  • TNPG Grenoble (Prof Laurent Fesquet)
  • USC Los Angeles (Prof Peter Beerel)
  • Columbia University (Prof Steve Nowick)
  • University of Utah (Profs Chris Myers, Ken Stevens and Erik Brunvand)

Summer internships and placements

Each summer, we take on around three interns to gain laboratory experience and skills. Typically, they are in the second year of their Engineering/Physics degree. In exceptional circumstances, we recruit from other backgrounds and disciplines.

Applications for interns must be received by the end of January each year, for all research-led academics.

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