Time-to-digital converters (TDCs) measure short time intervals with great precision. They are widely used in light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and laser-ranging devices, in positron emission tomography (PET) medical scanners, and in automated test equipment (ATE). A new, faster TDC with better precision measures time intervals at a resolution of up to 10 ps with a sampling rate of up to 70 MHz.

The new time-to-digital converter TDC-GPX2 from ams is an integrated four-channel TDC offering single-measurement resolution of up to 20 ps(rms) per channel in normal mode. Operating in dual-channel high-resolution mode, it can achieve a maximum resolution of 10 ps(rms) with 5 ns pulse-to-pulse spacing. The device uses between 60 mW and 450 mW in normal operation, and draws just 60 µA in stand-by mode.

The combination of higher precision and a higher sampling rate allows for better object detection and avoidance in LIDAR systems in cars, drones and robots; it will help improve real-time 3D image rendering in virtual- and augmented-reality applications, and enable PET scanners to achieve greater contrast while reducing the patient’s exposure time.