Date of Award

Spring 2007

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

William N. Carr

Second Advisor

Jacob Klapper

Third Advisor

Roy H. Cornely

Fourth Advisor

Durgamadhab Misra

Fifth Advisor

Edip Niver

Sixth Advisor

Saeed Abbasi


The fast growing demand of wireless and high speed data communications has driven efforts to increase the levels of integration in many communications applications. Phase noise and timing jitter are important design considerations for these communications applications. The desire for highly complex levels of integration using low cost CMOS technologies works against the minimization of timing jitter and phase noise for communications systems which employ a phase-locked loop for frequency and clock synthesis with on-chip VCO. This dictates an integrated CMOS implementation of the VCO with very low phase noise performance. The ring oscillator VCOs based on differential delay cell chains have been used successfully in communications applications, but thermal noise induced phase noise have to be minimized in order not to limit their applicability to some applications which impose stringent timing jitter and phase noise requirements on the PLL clock synthesizer. Obtaining lower timing jitter and phase noise at the PLL output also requires the minimization of noise in critical circuit design blocks as well as the optimization of the loop bandwidth of the PLL.

In this dissertation the fundamental performance limits of CMOS PLL clock synthesizers based on ring oscillator VCOs are investigated. The effect of flicker and thermal noise in MOS transistors on timing jitter and phase noise are explored, with particular emphasis on source coupled NMOS differential delay cells with symmetric load elements. Several new circuit architectures are employed for the charge pump circuit and phase-frequency detector (PFD) to minimize the timing jitter due to the finite dead zone in the PFD and the current mismatch in the charge pump circuit. The selection of the optimum PLL loop bandwidth is critical in determining the phase noise performance at the PLL output. The optimum loop bandwidth and the phase noise performance of the PLL is determined using behavioral simulations. These results are compared with transistor level simulated results and experimental results for the PLL clock synthesizer fabricated in a 0.35 µm CMOS technology with good agreement.

To demonstrate the proposed concept, a fully integrated CMOS PLL clock synthesizer utilizing integer-N frequency multiplier technique to synthesize several clock signals in the range of 20-400 MHz with low phase noise was designed. Implemented in a standard 0.35-µm N-well CMOS process technology, the PLL achieves a period jitter of 6.5-ps (rms) and 38-ps (peak-to-peak) at 216 MHz with a phase noise of -120 dBc/Hz at frequency offsets above 10 KHz.

The specific research contributions of this work include (1) proposing, designing, and implementing a new charge pump circuit architecture that matches current levels and therefore minimizes one source of phase noise due to fluctuations in the control voltage of the VCO, (2) an improved phase-frequency detector architecture which has improved characteristics in lock condition, (3) an improved ring oscillator VCO with excellent thermal noise induced phase noise characteristics, (4) the application of selfbiased techniques together with fixed bias to CMOS low phase noise PLL clock synthesizer for digital video communications ,and (5) an analytical model that describes the phase noise performance of the proposed VCO and PLL clock synthesizer.