A digital-to-time converter (DTC) controls time delay by a digital code, which is useful, for example, in a sampling oscilloscope, fractional-N PLL, or time-interleaved ADC. This paper proposes constant-slope charging as a method to realize a DTC with intrinsically better integral non-linearity (INL) compared to the popular variable-slope method. The proposed DTC chip realized in 65 nm CMOS consists of a voltage-controlled variable-delay element (DTC-core) driven by a 10 bit digital-to-analog converter. Measurements with a 55 MHz crystal clock demonstrate a full-scale delay programmable from 19 ps to 189 ps with a resolution from 19 fs to 185 fs. As available oscilloscopes are not good enough to reliably measure such high timing resolution, a frequency-domain method has been developed that modulates a DTC edge and derives INL from spur strength. An INL of 0.17% at 189 ps full-scale delay and 0.34% at 19 ps are measured, representing 8–9 bit effective INL-limited resolution. Output rms jitter is better than 210 fs limited by the test setup, while the DTC consumes 1.8 mW.
Ru, Z., Palattella, C., Geraedts, P. F. J., Klumperink, E. A. M., & Nauta, B. (2015). A high-linearity digital-to-time converter technique: constant-slope charging. IEEE journal of solid-state circuits, 50(6), 1412-1423. https://doi.org/10.1109/JSSC.2015.2414421