Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical & Computer Engineering

Committee Director

Lee A. Belfore

Committee Member

Chung-Hao Chen

Committee Member

Khan Iftekharuddin

Committee Member

Filip Cuckov


Low-power circuits and issues associated with them have gained a significant amount of attention in recent years due to the boom in portable electronic devices. Historically, low-power operation relied heavily on technology scaling and reduced operating voltage, however this trend has been slowing down recently due to the increased power density on chips. This dissertation introduces a new very-low power partially-adiabatic logic family called Input-Decoupled Partially-Adiabatic Logic (IDPAL) with applications in low-power circuits. Experimental results show that IDPAL reduces energy usage by 79% compared to equivalent CMOS implementations and by 25% when compared to the best adiabatic implementation. Experiments ranging from a simple buffer/inverter up to a 32-bit multiplier are explored and result in consistent energy savings, showing that IDPAL could be a viable candidate for a low-power circuit implementation.

This work also shows an application of IDPAL to secure low-power circuits against power analysis attacks. It is often assumed that encryption algorithms are perfectly secure against attacks, however, most times attacks using side channels on the hardware implementation of an encryption operation are not investigated. Power analysis attacks are a subset of side channel attacks and can be implemented by measuring the power used by a circuit during an encryption operation in order to obtain secret information from the circuit under attack. Most of the previously proposed solutions for power analysis attacks use a large amount of power and are unsuitable for a low-power application. The almost-equal energy consumption for any given input in an IDPAL circuit suggests that this logic family is a good candidate for securing low-power circuits again power analysis attacks. Experimental results ranging from small circuits to large multipliers are performed and the power-analysis attack resistance of IDPAL is investigated. Results show that IDPAL circuits are not only low-power but also the most secure against power analysis attacks when compared to other adiabatic low-power circuits.

Finally, a hybrid adiabatic-CMOS microprocessor design is presented. The proposed microprocessor uses IDPAL for the implementation of circuits with high switching activity (e.g. ALU) and CMOS logic for other circuits (e.g. memory, controller). An adiabatic-CMOS interface for transforming adiabatic signals to square-wave signals is presented and issues associated with a hybrid implementation and their solutions are also discussed.