12-ps Resolution Vernier Time-to-Digital Converter for SPAD Sensor

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MDPI paper "A 13-Bit, 12-ps Resolution Vernier Time-to-Digital Converter Based on Dual Delay-Rings for SPAD Image Sensor" by Zunkai Huang, Jinglin Huang, Li Tian,Ning Wang, Yongxin Zhu, Hui Wang, and Songlin Feng from Shanghai Advanced Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, presents a fairly complex pixel.

"In this paper, we propose a novel high-performance TDC for a SPAD image sensor. In our design, we first present a pulse-width self-restricted (PWSR) delay element that is capable of providing a steady delay to improve the time precision. Meanwhile, we employ the proposed PWSR delay element to construct a pair of 16-stages vernier delay-rings to effectively enlarge the dynamic range. Moreover, we propose a compact and fast arbiter using a fully symmetric topology to enhance the robustness of the TDC. To validate the performance of the proposed TDC, a prototype 13-bit TDC has been fabricated in the standard 0.18-µm complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) process. The core area is about 200 µm × 180 µm and the total power consumption is nearly 1.6 mW. The proposed TDC achieves a dynamic range of 92.1 ns and a time precision of 11.25 ps. The measured worst integral nonlinearity (INL) and differential nonlinearity (DNL) are respectively 0.65 least-significant-bit (LSB) and 0.38 LSB, and both of them are less than 1 LSB. The experimental results indicate that the proposed TDC is suitable for SPAD-based 3D imaging applications."

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