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Sensors 2018, 18(11), 3948; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18113948

A Cyclic Vernier Two-Step TDC for High Input Range Time-of-Flight Sensor Using Startup Time Correction Technique

School of Electronics and Information, Information and Communication System-on-chip (SoC) Research Center, Kyung Hee University, Yongin 17104, Korea
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Received: 12 October 2018 / Revised: 9 November 2018 / Accepted: 11 November 2018 / Published: 15 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
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Abstract

Herein, we present a low-power cyclic Vernier two-step time-to-digital converter (TDC) that achieves a wide input range with good linearity. Since traditional approaches require a large area or high power to achieve an input range >300 ns, we solve this problem by proposing a simple yet efficient TDC suitable for time-of-flight (TOF) sensors. In previous studies using the cyclic structure, the effect of startup time on the linearity of the TDC is not described. Thus, the achievable linearity has been limited when the TDC is used for applications requiring a high input range. We solve this problem by using a simple yet effective technique to compensate. The proposed technique is realized using (1) digitally-controlled oscillators (DCOs) that have dual frequency control and matched startup time; (2) an alignment detector that performs startup time correction by proper timing control; and (3) a fully symmetric arbiter that precisely detects the instant of edge alignment. To achieve a fine resolution for the cyclic Vernier TDC, we design two closely-matched DCOs with dual frequency control. The alignment detector performs the critical task of cancelling startup time via timing control. The detector is delay-compensated by using a dummy to provide matched loading for the two DCOs. To enhance the detection speed under low power, a current-reuse approach is employed for the arbiter. The TDC is fabricated using a 0.18 μm complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) process in a compact chip area of 0.028 mm2. Measured results show a dynamic range of 355 ns and a resolution of 377 ps. When the result is applied for TOF sensing, it corresponds to a distance range of 53.2 m and a resolution of 5.65 cm. Over a relatively large input range, good linearity is achieved, which is indicated by a DNL of 0.28 LSBrms and an INL of 0.96 LSBrms. The result corresponds to root mean square (RMS) error distance of 5.42 cm. The result is achieved by consuming a relatively low power of 0.65 mW. View Full-Text
Keywords: time-to-digital converter; time-of-flight; input range; startup time; cyclic; Vernier; digitally controlled oscillator time-to-digital converter; time-of-flight; input range; startup time; cyclic; Vernier; digitally controlled oscillator
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Nguyen, V.N.; Duong, D.N.; Chung, Y.; Lee, J.-W. A Cyclic Vernier Two-Step TDC for High Input Range Time-of-Flight Sensor Using Startup Time Correction Technique. Sensors 2018, 18, 3948.

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