Integrated Interfaces for Sensing Applications
Javed, Gaggatur Syed
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Sensor interfaces are needed to communicate the measured real-world analog values to the base¬band digital processor. They are dominated by the presence of high accuracy, high resolution analog to digital converters (ADC) in the backend. On most occasions, sensing is limited to small range measurements and low-modulation sensors where the complete dynamic range of ADC is not utilized. Designing a subsystem that integrates the sensor and the interface circuit and that works with a low resolution ADC requiring a small die-area is a challenge. In this work, we present a CMOS based area eﬃcient, integrated sensor interface for applications like capacitance, temperature and dielectric-constant measurement. In addition, potential applica-tions for this work are in Cognitive Radios, Software Deﬁned Radios, Capacitance Sensors, and location monitoring. The key contributions in the thesis are: 1 High Sensitivity Frequency-domain CMOS Capacitance Interface: A frequency domain capacitance interface system is proposed for a femto-farad capacitance measurement. In this technique, a ring oscillator circuit is used to generate a change in time period, due to a change in the sensor capacitance. The time-period diﬀerence of two such oscillators is compared and is read-out using a phase frequency detector and a charge pump. The output voltage of the system, is proportional to the change in the input sensor capacitance. It exhibits a maximum sensitivity of 8.1 mV/fF across a 300 fF capacitance range. 2 Sensitivity Enhancement for capacitance sensor: The sensitivity of an oscillator-based diﬀerential capacitance sensor has been improved by proposing a novel frequency domain capacitance-to-voltage (FDC) measurement technique. The capacitance sensor interface system is fabricated in a 130-nm CMOS technology with an active area of 0.17mm2 . It exhibits a maximum sensitivity of 244.8 mV/fF and a measurement resolution of 13 aF in a 10-100 fF measurement range, with a 10 pF nominal sensor capacitance and an 8-bit ADC. 3 Frequency to Digital Converter for Time/Distance measurement: A new architecture for a Vernier-based frequency-to-digital converter (VFDC) for location monitoring is pre¬sented, in which, a time interval measurement is performed with a frequency domain approach. Location monitoring is a common problem for many mobile robotic applica¬tions covering various domains, such as industrial automation, manipulation in diﬃcult areas, rescue operations, environment exploration and monitoring, smart environments and buildings, robotic home appliances, space exploration and probing. The proposed architecture employs a new injection-locked ring oscillator (ILR) as the clock source. The proposed ILR oscillator does not need complex calibration procedures, usually required by Phase Locked Loop (PLL) based oscillators in Vernier-based time-to-digital convert¬ers. It consumes 14.4 µW and 1.15 mW from 0.4 V and 1.2 V supplies, respectively. The proposed VFDC thus achieves a large detectable range, ﬁne time resolution, small die size and low power consumption simultaneously. The measured time-diﬀerence error is less than 50 ps at 1.2 V, enabling a resolution of 3 mm/kHz frequency shift. 4 A bio-sensor array for dielectric constant measurement: A CMOS on-chip sensor is presented to measure the dielectric constant of organic chemicals. The dielectric constant of these chemicals is measured using the oscillation frequency shift of a current controlled os¬cillator (CCO) upon the change of the sensor capacitance when exposed to the liquid. The CCO is embedded in an open-loop frequency synthesizer to convert the frequency change into voltage, which can be digitized using an oﬀ-chip analog-to-digital converter. The dielectric constant is then estimated using a detection procedure including the calibration of the sensor. 5 Integrated Temperature Sensor for thermal management: An integrated analog temper¬ature sensor which operates with simple, low-cost one-point calibration is proposed. A frequency domain technique to measure the on-chip silicon surface temperature, was used to measure the eﬀects of temperature on the stability of a frequency synthesizer. The temperature to voltage conversion is achieved in two steps i.e. temperature to frequency, followed by frequency to voltage conversion. The output voltage can be used to com¬pensate the temperature dependent errors in the high frequency circuits, thereby reduc¬ing the performance degradation due to thermal gradient. Furthermore, a temperature measurement-based on-chip self test technique to measure the 3 dB bandwidth and the central frequency of common radio frequency circuits, was developed. This technique shows promise in performing online monitoring and temperature compensation of RF circuits.
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