- Incremental ADCs (IADCs) have found wide applications in sensor interface circuitry since, compared to ∆Σ ADCs, they provide low-latency high-accuracy conversion and easy multiplexing among multiple channels. On the other hand, continuous-time ∆Σ ADCs (CTDSM) have been receiving more and more attention as a power-efficient solution in targeting medium to high accuracy over wider range of signal bandwidth (tens of MHz). In this dissertation, novel configurations have been explored in both architectures for power-efficient and high-accuracy data conversion.
First, a multi-step incremental ADC (IADC) using multi-slope extended counting technique is described. Only one active integrator is used in the three-step conversion cycle. The accuracy of the IADC is extended by having it configured as multi-slope ADCs in two additional steps. The proposed IADC uses the same circuitry as a first-order IADC (IADC1), but it exhibits as good efficiency as its second-order ∆Σ ADC counterpart. For the same accuracy, the conversion cycle is shortened by a factor of more than 2⁹ compared to the IADC1. Fabricated in 0.18-μm CMOS process, the prototype ADC occupies 0.5 mm². With a 642 kHz clock, it achieves SNDR of 52.2 dB in the first step. The SNDR is boosted to 79.8 dB in the second step, and to 96.8 dB in the third step, over a 1 kHz signal band. The power consumption is 35 µW from a 1.5 V power supply. This gives an excellent Schreier FoM of 174.6 dB.
Secondly, a multi-step incremental ADC with extended binary counting is proposed. It achieves high accuracy by splitting one conversion cycle into two serial steps. During the first step, the ADC works as a first-order incremental ADC (IADC1). The second step reuses the single integrator and extends the accuracy to 16 bits by a two-capacitor SAR-assisted binary counting technique. For the same accuracy, the conversion cycle is shortened by a factor of more than 2⁸ as compared to the single-step IADC. Fabricated in 0.18-μm CMOS process, the SAR-assisted IADC achieves a peak SNR/SNDR/DR of 97.1/96.6/100.2 dB over a 1.2 kHz bandwidth, while dissipating 33.2 μW from a 1.5 V supply. This gives a Schreier FoM of 175.8 dB and Walden FoM of 0.25 pJ/conv.-step.
Finally, the design of a continuous-time ∆Σ modulator (CTDSM) to be used in an ultrasound beamformer for biomedical imaging is described. To achieve better resolution, the prototype modulator operates at 1.2 GHz. It incorporates a digital excess loop delay (ELD) compensation to replace the active adder in front of the internal quantizer. A digitally controlled reference-switching matrix, combined with the data-weighted averaging (DWA) technique, results in a delay-free feedback path. A multi-bit FIR feedback DAC, along with its compensation path, is used to achieve lower clock jitter sensitivity and better loop filter linearity. The modulator achieves 79.4 dB dynamic range, 77.3 dB SNR and 74.3 dB SNDR over a 15 MHz signal bandwidth. Fabricated in a 65 nm CMOS process, the core modulator occupies an area of only 0.16 mm² and dissipates 6.96 mW from a 1 V supply. A 58.6 fJ/conversion-step figure of merit was achieved.