RFID Temperature Monitor for Lab Mice

The goal of the RFID Temperature Monitor for Lab Mice is to research an efficient way to monitor the well-being of mice in a vivarium. Medical research laboratories may house very large numbers of research animals, and each animal must be visually inspected every day. In addition to being a tedious task for research personnel, visual inspection is not the most effective method for accurately assessing the well-being of the animals. This project focuses on developing an implantable RFID-like tag that allows for remote, accurate, and continuous monitoring of lab animals.

The proposed approach is less disruptive to the daily behavior of the animals, provides more frequent and accurate data acquisition, and could potentially reduce the human workload for inspection. The RFID tags will be small enough to be injected into the animals without requiring surgery, and they will be remotely powered using RF energy coupled to an on-die antenna. One key technical challenge is implementing a tag that can perform its required functions with the very limited power budget supplied by the coupled power. To reduce power, we leverage low voltage sub-threshold operation for digital chips and sub-threshold bias for analog components. The chip will include an on-die temperature monitor, and triangulation from multiple readers will allow us to compute the location and activity level of the mice. A back-end infrastructure will manage communication with multiple mice distributed among many cages on multiple shelves, data aggregation, and information extraction.



Faculty:
Travis Blalock (PI), Ben Calhoun, Ron Williams, Scott Barker

Students:
Stuart Wooters, Jonathan Bolus, Yanqing Zhang, Ben Choo

Publications:
Wooters, S. N., B. H. Calhoun, and T. N. Blalock, "An Energy-Efficient Subthreshold Level Converter in 130-nm CMOS", IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems II, vol. 57, pp. 290-294, 04/2010.