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They became real thanks to the innovations in semiconductor technology made over the years. They use the propagation delays of simple logical gates i. Nowadays we can integrate system solutions into a single chip that are efficient, power saving, space saving and none the less low price. The figure shows the principle of operation. Clever circuit set-ups, redundant elements and special layout methods on the chip enable the exact reconstruction of the number of basic time intervals.
The resolution strictly depends upon the basic delay time in the chip. Resolutions in the range of 14 ps can be achieved by a simple set-up of the measuring core and the use of a state-of-the art CMOS process. The propagation delay itself depends on temperature and supply voltage. Therefore the measured value must be calibrated. This is done by measuring one and two periods of a reference oscillator.
Ideally this measurement and the following calculation is done by the TDC itself. Absolute delay time TDCs have the following advantage: The delay time of the inverter can be precisely adjusted and stabilized by using a phase controlled loop PLL.
It is independent from supply voltage and temperature. Good pulse-pair resolution.
TDC-GP21 Ultrasonic Flow Converter