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Implementation of high-resolution time-to-digital converter in 8-bit microcontrollers

Journal article
Authors Lars Bengtsson
Published in Review of Scientific Instruments
Volume 83
Issue article no. 045107
ISSN 0034-6748
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Language en
Keywords Microcontroller, time-to-digital converter, high-resolution, embedded systems
Subject categories Computer Engineering, Electronic measurement and instrumentation


This paper will demonstrate how a time-to-digital converter (TDC) with sub-nanosecond resolution can be implemented into an 8-bit microcontroller using so called “direct” methods. This means that a TDC is created using only five bidirectional digital input–output-pins of a microcontroller and a few passive components (two resistors, a capacitor, and a diode). We will demonstrate how a TDC for the range 1–10 μs is implemented with 0.17 ns resolution. This work will also show how to linearize the output by combining look-up tables and interpolation.

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