Advanced Microelectronics

Course summary

  • Mon 25 Mar 2019 to Fri 29 Mar 2019
  • Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PJ
  • This unit can only be taken as part of the MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communications.
  • Course code O18C003H6Y
  • +44 (0)1865 283263
  • Applications being accepted

Advanced Microelectronics


This is the second unit of the part-time MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics, and Communications. It builds upon material covered in Unit 1.

As part of this unit, we aim to explore CMOS processes and transistor models and how to analyse the speed and power of both combinatorial and sequential logic circuits.

We will describe in more detail the basic digital building blocks, such as adders, counters and registers and how the performance of different adders and multipliers can be compared. This will be followed by a look at the different types of random access and read-only memories along with the design of SRAM and DRAM cells. In this section, we will also consider analogue building blocks and the design of two-stage op-amps and comparators.

Programme details

CMOS Processes and Transistor Characteristics

In this topic, we will describe the stages of a CMOS process and the current-voltage characteristics of a MOSFET. We will show how to derive the small signal model for a MOSFET and analyse small signal equivalent circuits. The origins of mismatch between devices and their impact on circuits will be explained and you will learn about the fabrication process in deep submicron technologies.

Topics covered:

  • Overview of CMOS Processes
  • Simple transistor models
  • Short-channel effects
  • Temperature effects
  • Simulation models
  • Small signal models
  • Noise Models
  • Pelgrom Model of Mismatch – layout for matching
  • CMOS – Deep Sub Micron Technologies


Speed and Power

Here we will show you how to analyse the speed, power, area and scaling of simple combinatorial and sequential logic circuits. The parasitics attached to the input and output schemes of an integrated circuit will be explained and we will consider the effect of interconnects on speed and delay in a digital IC. The various logic elements in terms of speed and power will be compared and you learn about the strategies for low power design.

Topics covered:

  • Delay and Speed - Inverter Delay, RC delay model, Interconnects and related parasitics
  • Power - Static and dynamic power, low power designs, noise margins

Logic Elements

In the next part of the unit, we will learn about the basic digital building blocks including adders, counters and multipliers and you will be shown how to compare the performance of different adders and multipliers. We will consider the design of flip-flops as basic building blocks for memories and registers and understand hierarchy, modularity, locality and regularity in the context of digital design. 

Topics covered:

  • Logic Design - Adders, counters, shifters, Multipliers, Latches and flip-flops
  • Structured logic design
  • Pads and ESD Protection
  • Clock systems
  • Power distribution
  • Charge pumps


For the memories aspect of the unit, both random addressable and read-only memories will be described along with their addressing and sensing schemes. You will learn how SRAM and DRAM cells are designed and we will describe the reading and writing mechanisms of various memory types. In this section, a comparative analysis of memories for their delay, power and size will also be undertaken.

Topics covered:

  • Memories - SRAM, DRAM, ROM
  • Addressing circuitry
  • Area, delay and power analysis

Analogue Building Blocks

In this section, we will show how to design current sources, mirrors and amplifiers. We will explain why cascode devices increase the impedance of circuits and consider gate-source voltage reference generators and a boot-strapped Current Source. You will see how high gain CMOS inverters, as well as cascode and differential amplifiers are designed.

Topics covered:

  • Current Sources – cascode – robustness to threshold variations – matching
  • Current mirrors – including Improved Wilson current mirror
  • Cascode Amplifiers – Differential Amplifier – common-mode input range – small signal gain
  • MOS Switches – On-resistance – Leakage Current, Charge redistribution/Clock feedthrough – Solutions to clock-feedthrough
  • Transmission Gates

Comparators and Op-amps

In the final section of the Advanced Microelectronics unit, we will consider how two-stage comparators are designed and explain the origins of the systematic offset error. You will learn how to design output amplifiers and source followers, two stage Op-Amps, and low power Op-Amps. We will also show how MOS Switches and Transmission gates can be designed and the charge redistribution, clock feedthrough and solutions to clock-feedthrough will be explained.

Topics covered:

  • Two-Stage Comparator – Design procedure, systematic offset error, inverter cascades to drive large C loads
  • Output Amplifiers and Source Followers, Two Stage Op-Amp Design, Cascode Design, Low Power Op-amps
  • Output Amplifiers and Source Followers

Please note that the programme is subject to change.

Recommended reading

You will be issued with a reading list before your residential week via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).


Accommodation is not included in the course fee but may be available at your college and at Rewley House.

Bed and breakfast accommodation at other University colleges can also be booked on the Oxford Rooms website.


Radcliffe Science library

The Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) is the main science research library at the university. The library holds copies of all of your reading list items, and most of your engineering library research will be done using this library’s resources. The library is located less than 5 minutes away from the Engineering Science department, at the corner of Parks Road and South Parks Road.

The subject librarian responsible for Engineering Science is Alessandra Vetrugno (, based at the RSL.

The Department for Continuing Education

The Department for Continuing Education is based at Rewley House in Wellington Square, only five minutes walk from the Department of Engineering Science (Thom Building).

In addition to supporting the various aspects of the course that involve online learning, the Department has facilities available to students during their attendance in Oxford. In particular, the Department has a Graduate Room - a study space dedicated to graduate students with lockers, printing facilities and refreshments. The Graduate Room is accessible from 8.00am to 10.00pm (24hrs for students using the Department’s overnight accommodation). The Continuing Education Library, also located at Rewley House, has quiet study space and a ‘Reading Room’.


IT requirements

In order to participate in the pre-course material, you will need access to the internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification which can be found at


This unit can only be taken as part of the MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communications.

Teaching methods

Each of the six taught units will typically follow the structure below:

  1. Online material and exercises using the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). We would expect you to take 12 weeks to work through this material.  We will expect you to read specific material online and be familiar with the necessary pre-requisites of the course before each residential week in Oxford.
  2. A residential week in Oxford during which you will attend classes, complete tutorial exercises, participate in tutorial classes, meet your personal tutor and, where necessary, complete practical assignments.
  3. Assignments, which are available online and which must be completed and submitted by the deadlines (see Key Dates).

This course is taught by members of the Engineering Science Faculty, who you will meet as lecturers, as tutors for classes, or as your dissertation supervisor. One member of faculty will be assigned to you as a ‘personal tutor’ at the start of the course. He or she will provide advice and guidance, and discuss your academic progress. Your personal tutor will meet with you at each of the residential weeks, and you can contact him or her by email.

Your course supervisor will write a formal report on your progress three times a year on the online Graduate Supervision System ( You will be able to view that report and will be asked to reflect on your progress as well. 

Virtual Learning Environment

This course uses a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which is a web-based application called WebLearn.

Access to the course VLE is via an internet browser using your University Single Sign-On account. When the course has started and you have activated your Single Sign-On,  you will have access to the student forum, information about student support, course documents and examiner reports.  If you are unable to access WebLearn, please email the course team with details of your Single Sign-On (

You will be given access to an 'Induction' VLE which houses supporting materials for the MSc on Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communication at the start of the academic year, and to separate sites for each unit as and when you are due to take them.

During the course you will also be required to submit work through our online Moodle Assignment Submission System. 

Assessment methods

One assignment comprising a set of problems to solve (example sheet) will be provided during Week 1 via remote learning and should be submitted online during Week 7. This assignment will not contribute to your overall degree outcome and you will receive written feedback from your tutor via the VLE. 

A second example sheet  will be provided during Week 7 via remote learning for submission online during Week 11. Again, this will not contribute to your overall degree outcome, written feedback will be provided online and will be discussed during the residential week.

Finally, there will be one written examination paper covering all six topics. This paper will be provided towards the end of the 12 week course and will be formally assessed with the outcome providing the mark for the completed unit. The paper will be distributed online and must be submitted for assessment online.

Additional worked examples and problems may also be provided during the course via the VLE.


This unit can only be taken as part of the MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communications.