Breast Cancer Marker

ASIC Success Story


Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States and a woman’s lifetime risk of developing cancer is about 1 in 8. One area of active research is better methods to mark cancerous sites that are less intrusive, more accurate, and provide flexibility to be placed one or more days before surgery. 

CSS has partnered with an innovative health company that has developed the most precise wire-free marking system available that is smaller than a grain of rice. The wire-free marking system improves the precision and predictability of locating tumors and biopsy sites before, during, and after surgery and ultimately improves the outcome of patients. CSS has designed a custom solution that provides the power harvesting, clock generation, and antenna driver for the marking system.

Breast cancer ribbon held by medical professional with mammogram machine in background.
Layout image of breast cancer marker chip.

Custom Solution from CSS

This ultra-low power ASIC is powered by a series stack of 5 infrared photo-diodes. The system provides a pulsed IR light source from which power and clock are derived.

One of four “Gold” codes is generated and toggles a pHEMT transistor that modulates the reflectivity of the antenna. The system monitors the return signal and can differentiate the locations of up to four markers.

Key Features

  • XFAB Isolated Trench SOI CMOS
  • Three-Chip Solution
  • Low Supply Voltage = 1.30V
  • Internal shunt regulator
  • Ultra Low Power – Active current ~ 30nA
  • IR Reset & Clock detectors
  • Generates 1 of 4 “Gold” codes for correlation
  • Transmit signal disabled if clock error detected
  • CMOS push-pull output driver controls 5GHz pHEMT transistor
  • GaAs Antenna Switch
  • Processor and Modem
  • 5nA Reference Current Generator; 
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