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Electronics 2019, 8(1), 80;

A Capacitance-to-Time Converter-Based Electronic Interface for Differential Capacitive Sensors

Department of Industrial and Information Engineering and Economics, University of L’Aquila, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
Department of Electronic Engineering, University of Valencia, 46100 Burjassot, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 November 2018 / Revised: 3 January 2019 / Accepted: 4 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Signal Processing and Analysis of Electrical Circuit)
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In this paper we present an oscillating conditioning circuit, operating a capacitance-to-time conversion, which is suitable for the readout of differential capacitive sensors. The simple architecture, based on a multiple-feedbacks structure that avoids ground noise disturbs and system calibrations, employs only three Operational Amplifiers (OAs) and a mixer implementing a square wave oscillator that provides an AC sensor excitation voltage. It performs a Period Modulation (PM) and a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) of the output signal proportionally to the sensor differential capacitance values. The sensor variation range and the detection sensitivity can be easily set through the additional resistors. Preliminary PSpice simulation results have shown a good agreement with theoretical calculations as well as a linear response with a high detection sensitivity of differential capacitive sensors having a baseline in the range [2.2 ÷ 180 pF]. Moreover, different experimental measurements have been also performed by implementing the circuit on a laboratory breadboard using commercial discrete components so validating the idea and providing the circuit performances with different kind of differential capacitive sensors achieving detection resolutions of about 0.1 fF in an overall differential capacitive variation range that is equal to ±15.8 pF. The achieved results demonstrate that the proposed interface solution is suitable for on-chip integration with different kinds of differential capacitive sensing devices, such as Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System (MEMS), force/position, and humidity sensors in biomedical and robotics applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: PM/PWM; capacitance-to-time conversion; differential capacitive sensor PM/PWM; capacitance-to-time conversion; differential capacitive sensor

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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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De Marcellis, A.; Reig, C.; Cubells-Beltrán, M.-D. A Capacitance-to-Time Converter-Based Electronic Interface for Differential Capacitive Sensors. Electronics 2019, 8, 80.

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