You are required to read and agree to the below before accessing a full-text version of an article in the IDE article repository.

The full-text document you are about to access is subject to national and international copyright laws. In most cases (but not necessarily all) the consequence is that personal use is allowed given that the copyright owner is duly acknowledged and respected. All other use (typically) require an explicit permission (often in writing) by the copyright owner.

For the reports in this repository we specifically note that

  • the use of articles under IEEE copyright is governed by the IEEE copyright policy (available at
  • the use of articles under ACM copyright is governed by the ACM copyright policy (available at
  • technical reports and other articles issued by M‰lardalen University is free for personal use. For other use, the explicit consent of the authors is required
  • in other cases, please contact the copyright owner for detailed information

By accepting I agree to acknowledge and respect the rights of the copyright owner of the document I am about to access.

If you are in doubt, feel free to contact

High-Precision Low-Power Wireless Nodes' Synchronization via Decentralized Control



Alberto Leva , Federico Terraneo , Luigi Rinaldi , Alessandro Papadopoulos, Martina Maggio

Publication Type:

Journal article


IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology






Abstract: Time synchronization is crucial for wireless sensor networks (WSNs), where operations often rely on time ordering of events. WSNs are deployed in different scenarios, and therefore their timing requirements are often related to the peculiar characteristics of the specific environment they have to act in. Synchronization is anyway always an issue: transactional applications need monotonicity of the nodes' clocks to avoid time reversal, ultralow power applications call for minimal overhead to allow for low-duty-cycle operation, applications facing extreme environments have to maintain the needed precision in the presence of unforeseen thermal drift, and so on. Specially, control applications on battery-powered devices, where timing is an issue and low-power operation is highly desired, benefit from synchronization. However, to date, the problem of synchronization has been differently faced depending on the application domain. This paper proposes a general solution to the problem of synchronization in WSNs, which seamlessly integrates with the radio stack. In addition, it guarantees monotonic and continuous node clocks with low overhead for the infrastructure. The solution is based on a decentralized control scheme that is stable and robust to thermal stress, without the need for temperature measurements. The control scheme is simulated and implemented on real WSN nodes. The efficiency of the scheme is evaluated with simulations and experiments, providing insights on the maximum synchronization error between nodes, on the communication overhead, and on the limited nodes' power consumption. The solution is also compared with state-of-the-art alternatives.


author = {Alberto Leva and Federico Terraneo and Luigi Rinaldi and Alessandro Papadopoulos and Martina Maggio},
title = {High-Precision Low-Power Wireless Nodes' Synchronization via Decentralized Control},
volume = {24},
number = {4},
pages = {1279--1293},
month = {July},
year = {2016},
journal = {IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology},
publisher = {IEEE},
url = {}