Flexible and self-calibrating current-steering digital-to-analog converters : analysis, classification and design

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

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This research work proposes new concepts of flexibility and self-correction for currentsteering digital-to-analog converters (DACs) which allow the attainment of broad functional and performance specifications, high linearity, and reduced dependence on the fabrication processes. This work analytically investigates the DAC linearity with respect to the accuracy of the DAC unit elements. The main novelty of the proposed approach is in the application of the Brownian Bridge (BB) process to precisely describe the DAC Integrated-Non-Linearity (INL). The achieved results fill a gap in the general understanding of the most quoted DAC specification - the INL. Further, this work introduces a classification of the highly diverse current-steering DAC correction methods. The classification automatically points to methods that do not exist yet in the open literature (gaps). Based on the clues of the common properties and identified common techniques in the introduced classification, this work then proposes exemplary solutions to fill in the identified gaps. Further, this work systematically analyses self-calibration correction methods for the DAC mismatch errors. Their components are analyzed as three building blocks: selfmeasurement, error processing algorithm and self-correction block. This work systemizes their alternative implementations and the associated trade-offs. The findings are compared to the available solutions in the literature. The efficient calibration of the DAC binary currents is identified as an important missing method. This work proposes a new methodology for correcting the mismatch errors of both the nominally identical unary and the scaled binary DAC currents. Further, this work proposes a new concept for DAC flexibility. This concept is realized in a new flexible DAC architecture. The architecture is based on a modular design approach that uses parallel sub-DAC units to realize flexible design, flexible functionality and flexible performance. The parallel sub-DAC units form a mixed-signal platform that is capable of many DAC correction methods, including calibration, error mapping, data reshuffling, and harmonic distortion cancellation. This work presents the implementation and measurement results of three DAC testchip implementations in 250nm, 180nm, and 40nm standard CMOS IC technologies. The test-chips are used as a tool to practically investigate, validate, and demonstrate two main concepts of this thesis: self-calibration and flexibility. Particularly, the 180nm test-chip is the first reported DAC implementation that calibrates the errors of all its current sources and features flexibility, as suggested in this work. The calibration of all current sources makes the DAC accuracy independent of the tolerances of the manufacturing process. The overall DAC accuracy depends on a single design parameter – the correction step. The third test-chip is the first reported DAC implementation in 40nm CMOS process. A 12-bit DAC core in this test-chip occupies only 0.05mm2 of silicon area, which is the smallest reported area for a 12-bit current-steering DAC core.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Electrical Engineering
  • van Roermund, Arthur, Promotor
  • de Hegt, J.A. (Hans), Copromotor
  • Quinn, Patrick J., Copromotor, External person
Award date14 Jan 2010
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs978-90-386-2125-8
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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