High performance pulse width modulated CMOS class D power amplifiers

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Lu, Jingxue

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The objective of this research is to explore circuit techniques and architectures suitable for implementation in digital technologies, that can be used to enhance the efficiency of power stages. Specifically, the use of switching power stages with pulse-width modulation techniques is considered. Switching power stages, such as Class D amplifiers, are inherently well-suited for implementation in deep-submicron CMOS. Pulse-width modulation (PWM) employs discrete amplitude levels and encodes signal information in local time-based averages, and as such can also benefit from such technologies. Additionally PWM does not suffer from quantization noise, and is well-suited for low noise applications. PWM designs, that can be applied for a range of signal bandwidth requirements, spanning several tens to hundreds of kHz are proposed. Applications for these architectures include audio systems, powerline communications and wireless communications. Design challenges and requirements that can arise in different application contexts are considered in the specification of the architectures. A common goal in the definition of the architectures is to minimize complexity of the designs. In the first part of the dissertation, a third-order self-oscillating PWM class-D amplifier for audio applications, that utilizes a hysteretic comparator is described. The design is analyzed and its THD is theoretically determined by employing an equivalent model, that relates the approach to natural sampling pulse-width modulation. The architecture eliminates the requirement for a high-quality carrier generator. A low-cost hysteresis compensation technique is utilized to enhance distortion performance at high output power levels. An implementation is presented in a 0.7um CMOS process. The design achieves a dynamic range (DR) of 116.5 dB, and a THD+N of 0.0012%, while delivering a power of 125 mW into an 8[Omega] load at 1 kHz. The THD+N is under 0.006% up to 90% of the maximum output power. The amplifier can deliver 1.45 W into the load with a THD of 5% with a 5 V power supply. The efficiency is greater than 84% for output power larger than 1 W. The area of the amplifier is 6 mm². The achieved performance indicates that the design is well-suited for high-performance audio applications. A class D line driver that utilizes a phase-locked loop (PLL) based PWM generation technique is presented next. The principle of operation, and implementation details relating to loop stability, linearity and noise performance are analyzed. An implementation is presented in a 130nm CMOS process. The amplifier can deliver 1.2 W into an 6.8[Omega] load with a 4.8 V power supply. The architecture eliminates the requirement for a high-quality carrier generator and a fast, continuous voltage comparator that are often required in PWM implementations. The design can achieve a THD of -65 dB, with a switching frequency that can be as high as 20 MHz. The peak efficiency is 83% for output power larger than 1 W, for a switching frequency of 10 MHz. The area of the amplifier is 2.25 mm². This architecture is potentially suitable for powerline applications. Finally, a phase-locked loop based PWM Cartesian transmitter with the capability to drive switched power amplifiers, such as a Class D power amplifier, is proposed. A phase-locked loop based technique is employed to generate a high-frequency PWM pulse stream centered at 1.28 GHz. The prototype is simulated in a 130 nm CMOS process, and achieves 35% peak efficiency for 17 dBm output power with a carrier frequency of 900 MHz. Operation of the architecture with non-constant envelope modulation, such as that employed in the WCDMA standard, is verified in simulation.



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