This innovation is intended to reduce the size, power, and complexity of pipeline analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) that require high resolution and speed along with low power. Digitizers are important components in any application where analog signals (such as light, sound, temperature, etc.) need to be digitally processed. The innovation implements amplification of a sampled residual voltage in a switched capacitor amplifier stage that does not depend on charge redistribution. The result is less sensitive to capacitor mismatches that cause gain errors, which are the main limitation of such amplifiers in pipeline ADCs. The residual errors due to mismatch are reduced by at least a factor of 16, which is equivalent to at least 4 bits of improvement. The settling time is also faster because of a higher feedback factor.

In traditional switched capacitor residue amplifiers, closed-loop amplification of a sampled and held residue signal is achieved by redistributing sampled charge onto a feedback capacitor around a high-gain transconductance amplifier. The residual charge that was sampled during the acquisition or sampling phase is stored on two or more capacitors, often equal in value or integral multiples of each other. During the hold or amplification phase, all of the charge is redistributed onto one capacitor in the feedback loop of the amplifier to produce an amplified voltage. The key error source is the non-ideal ratios of feedback and input capacitors caused by manufacturing tolerances, called “mismatches.” The mismatches cause non-ideal closed-loop gain, leading to higher differential non-linearity. Traditional solutions to the mismatch errors are to use larger capacitor values (than dictated by thermal noise requirements) and/or complex calibration schemes, both of which increase the die size and power dissipation.

The key features of this innovation are (1) the elimination of the need for charge redistribution to achieve an accurate closed-loop gain of two, (2) a higher feedback factor in the amplifier stage giving a higher closed-loop bandwidth compared to the prior art, and (3) reduced requirement for calibration. The accuracy of the new amplifier is mainly limited by the sampling networks’ parasitic capacitances, which should be minimized in relation to the sampling capacitors.

This work was done by Gerard Quilligan of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16187-1