Incorporating energy heterogeneity into sensor network time synchronization

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number6747315
Pages (from-to)163-173
Journal / PublicationIEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


Time synchronization is one of the most fundamental services for wireless sensor networks. Prior studies have investigated the clock stability due to environmental dynamics. In this paper, we demonstrate by experiment that in spite of the surrounding environment, time synchronization is unavoidably impacted by in-network energy heterogeneity, which may incur up to 30-40 ppm clock uncertainty. We mathematically analyze the root cause of such clock uncertainty and propose a protocol called EATS. Sensor nodes with EATS can intelligently select the best synchronization parents that minimize the negative impact of the energy heterogeneity. The selection is robust to multiple impacting factors in the network and provides fine-grained synchronization accuracy. In addition, nodes can make use of local energy information and further calibrate the clocks. In light of this, the logic time maintained among different nodes is more consistent and the synchronization can be performed with a longer re-synchronization interval and less energy consumption. We implement EATS with TelosB motes and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of our design through extensive experiments and simulations.

Research Area(s)

  • energy heterogeneity, time synchronization, WSN