Vacancy PhD research: hardware/software co-design of flexible and modular radio and network platforms


Last application date
March 31th, 2017
TW05 - Department of Information technology (IDLab)
Limited duration
Master’s degree in Wireless/Radio communication, Wireless networking, Computer Science, Informatics, ICT or Electronics
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job offer

During the past decades we have witnessed the explosive emergence of wireless technologies and standards, covering different ranges (from short range personal areas networks, local areas networks up to wide area networks) and different licensed and unlicensed spectral bands (from sub 6GHz to 60GHz). Some trends observed in Internet of Things (IoT) and wireless broadband are:

  1. the ever-increasing number and diversity of wireless devices
  2. running applications that become more critical and bandwidth-hungry, and having very diverging QoS requirements (e.g. in terms of throughput, latency, reliability, energy consumption, synchronization, exposure, etc.), and
  3.  the presence of multiple heterogeneous wireless technologies, often integrated in the same device, sharing the same physical environment and in many cases also sharing the same spectral bands.

To meet the huge bandwidth demand, spectrum for wireless communication has been extended form sub 6GHz to millimetre wave (30-300 GHz). To cope with scarce spectral resources in sub 6 GHz bands, novel sophisticated techniques are introduced for accessing and sharing the wireless medium in a highly efficient manner. Such techniques are expected to either improve the coordination within a given spectral band (horizontal spectrum sharing), or explore the possibilities of opportunistically using unused spectrum in underutilized and potentially licensed spectral bands (vertical spectrum sharing, also called dynamic spectrum sharing or DSS).

In the context IoT and wireless broadband, several huge European and international projects are ramping up and coordinated by imec. They range from end-to-end networking (such as SDN or Software-Defined Networking) to software-defined radio (SDR), from ISM band technologies to emerging 60GHz technologies, from spectrum sensing to MAC & network behavior learning and optimization.

In order to perform high-quality research at imec, we identified the following research area where we want to strengthen our research efforts and where we offer a vacancy: hardware/software co-design of flexible and modular radio and network platforms.

The goal of this research position is to design, implement and validate flexible and modular hardware/software (HW/SW) architectures for controlling and coordinating the wireless communication across heterogeneous wireless devices and networks, hereby guaranteeing a minimum level of quality for each application. Such HW/SW architectures have to support (re)programmability and (re)configurability, enabling (1) on the fly deployment / composition / update of physical layer, MAC layer and network protocol stacks, (2) runtime selection/combination of radio resources (frequency, time, beams, etc.), radio operation modes (modulation and coding schemes) and network protocols (MAC, routing, transport), and/or (3) runtime (re)configuration of radio and network parameters. Such hardware/software architectures should be supported on high-end (software-defined radio platforms) as well as on low-end devices with small footprints (low memory & processing capacity, small footprint FPGA).


Function description

We offer a competitive salary with interesting social benefits and a challenging, stimulating and pleasant research environment, where you can contribute to the worldwide research for the Future Internet. During your research, the following activities will be part of your work:

  • Analyse the current wireless network technologies thoroughly and will develop new HW/SW architectures, algorithms, protocols and concepts in one of the defined research areas.
  • Build up hands-on experience by implementing these HW/SW concepts and by evaluating through experimental validation on a large-scale wireless testbed (more info, see or through detailed simulations.
  • Participate in the framework of European and national research projects (in collaboration with industry).
  • Publish and present results both at international conferences and in scientific journals.
  • Work towards realizing a PhD in about 4 years.
  • Build towards a future academic career through project experience & high-profile scientific publications, or towards a promising IoT industry career through collaborations with several high-impact industry partners.



We are looking for candidates with the following qualifications and skills:

  • You have a Master’s degree in Wireless/Radio communication, Wireless networking, Computer Science, Informatics, ICT or Electronics. You are acquainted with the low level programming languages (C, C++). Hands-on experience with digital design (Verilog, VHDL) and FPGA programming in context of communication (Wireless/Radio perfectly) is highly desired. Experience and a strong interest in existing or new wireless network technologies, such as 60GHz and massive-MIMO, are a plus.
  • You are interested to do research in an academic environment for a 4 years period in view of a PhD degree.
  • You are able to plan and carry out your tasks in an independent way.
  • You have strong analytical skills to interpret the obtained research results.
  • You are a responsible, communicative and flexible person.
  • You are a team player.
  • You respect the predetermined milestones in research projects.
  • Your English is fluent, both speaking and writing.


Information about imec – Ghent University research environment

Inter-university Microelectronics Center (imec) is a world-leading independent research center in nano-electronics and digital technology. imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and also has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities (such as Ghent Univeristy), in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. Imec staffs more than 3500 people including over 600 industrial residents and guest researchers. imec's uniqueness relies in the combination of a widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and a profound software and ICT expertise. imec leverages its world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries to create innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, and energy. imec's research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technological development in industry.

IDLab is a core research group of imec with research activities are embedded in Ghent University and University of Antwerp. IDLab performs applied research and development of high speed and densely deployed wireless Internet technologies and data science. IDLab’s research areas cover machine learning and data mining; semantic intelligence; distributed intelligence for IoT; cloud and big data infrastructures; multimedia coding and delivery; wireless and fixed networking; electromagnetics, RF and high-speed circuits and systems. The IDLab team counts about 300 members (40 professors, 50 post docs, 200 researchers, 15 support staff members. Innovative solutions are developed both through fundamental research projects, as well as through collaborations with international industry partners. A well-established experimental test environment and a number of technology platforms support these activities.

The ‘Wireless’ research unit of IDLab at Ghent University consists of 30 motivated researchers performing research on the following topics: Internet of Things, Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), High-density wireless access networks, collaborative and cooperative networks, intelligent cognitive radio networks, real-time software defined radio, flexible hardware/software architectures for radio/network control and management, and experimentally-supported research..

Working as a researcher within this technical environment in IDLab can be a truly enriching experience. You will gain a lot of expertise within different application domains like health and care, transport and logistics, media, energy, smart cities, etc.


Application deadline

Review of applications starts and will continue until the position is filled, but for full consideration please apply before March 31th, 2017. If you are interested in this job opening and your profile corresponds to the requirements listed above, please

  • Send your motivation letter and CV to, indicating “Application: HW/SW co-design” in the subject.
  • Include a motivation letter explaining clearly the relevance of your skills for the position.
  • Include the name, email address, phone number and some recommendation letter of at least two persons that we can contact for references.
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