A Range-Extended and Area-Efficient Time-to-Digital Converter Utilizing Ring-Tapped Delay Line

Xin-Gang WANG  Fei WANG  Rui JIA  Rui CHEN  Tian ZHI  Hai-Gang YANG  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Electronics   Vol.E96-C   No.9   pp.1184-1194
Publication Date: 2013/09/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1353
DOI: 10.1587/transele.E96.C.1184
Print ISSN: 0916-8516
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Electronic Circuits
Ring-Tapped Delay Line (RTDL),  coarse-fine,  clockless,  Vernier Ring Oscillator (VRO),  Time-to-Digital Converter (TDC),  

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This paper proposes a coarse-fine Time-to-Digital Converter (TDC), based on a Ring-Tapped Delay Line (RTDL). The TDC achieves the picosecond's level timing resolution and microsecond's level dynamic range at low cost. The TDC is composed of two coarse time measurement blocks, a time residue generator, and a fine time measurement block. In the coarse blocks, RTDL is constructed by redesigning the conventional Tapped Delay Line (TDL) in a ring structure. A 12-bit counter is employed in one of the two coarse blocks to count the cycle times of the signal traveling in the RTDL. In this way, the input range is increased up to 20.3µs without use of an external reference clock. Besides, the setup time of soft-edged D-flip-flops (SDFFs) adopted in RTDL is set to zero. The adjustable time residue generator picks up the time residue of the coarse block and propagates the residue to the fine block. In the fine block, we use a Vernier Ring Oscillator (VRO) with MOS capacitors to achieve a scalable timing resolution of 11.8ps (1 LSB). Experimental results show that the measured characteristic curve has high-level linearity; the measured DNL and INL are within ± 0.6 LSB and ± 1.5 LSB, respectively. When stimulated by constant interval input, the standard deviation of the system is below 0.35 LSB. The dead time of the proposed TDC is less than 650ps. When operating at 5 MSPS at 3.3V power supply, the power consumption of the chip is 21.5mW. Owing to the use of RTDL and VRO structures, the chip core area is only 0.35mm × 0.28mm in a 0.35µm CMOS process.