Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Compact, power efficient CMOS-based temperature sensor

Technology #cu14134

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Mingoo Seok
Managed By
Greg Maskel
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending 20160265981

The use of circuits for temperature monitoring that can be placed directly on a chip, such as a microprocessor, is increasing in popularity. However, technological advancements relating to multi-core architectures, tri-gate devices and low-voltage operation have created new requirements for the use of circuits for temperature monitoring. This technology describes a basic design employing two pairs of CMOS transistors configured as voltage reference circuits that can be used to measure temperature at low supply voltages. The temperature coefficient of the calculated output from these circuits can be configured to vary proportionally or inversely with the measured absolute temperature. Variations of this design enable the substrate area required by the technology to be balanced against its sensing accuracy as required by different applications.

Application of two-transistor voltage reference circuit reduces sensor area cost while improving accuracy across process variation and noisy digital environments

By exploiting the properties of two-transistor voltage reference circuits, the technology requires fewer than ten transistors per temperature sensor. The reduced space requirement allows for more sensors to be embedded in a microchip, thereby improving the accuracy and extent of thermal monitoring for microprocessors with complex architectures. The low number of transistors required by the technology also reduces its power requirements. Differential reading of the device output voltages used to determine temperature reduces the impact of process variations on sensor accuracy and maintains sensor accuracy in noisy digital environments.

Lead Inventor:

Mingoo Seok, Ph.D.


  • Managing operation of modern microprocessors that require temperature monitoring at multiple locations
  • Temperature monitoring in mobile devices
  • Temperature monitoring of medical patients using biochemically generated power


  • Compact design is considerably smaller than currently available temperature sensors
  • Relatively insensitive to supply voltage scaling
  • Suitable for low power scenarios that could not be reliably monitored using conventional BJT-based sensor technology

Patent Information:

Patent Pending (US 20160265981)

Tech Ventures Reference: IR CU14134

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