- Pulse generator
Pulse generators can either be internal circuits or pieces of
electronic test equipmentused to generate pulses.
Simple pulse generators usually allow control of the pulse repetition rate (
frequency), pulse width, delay with respect to an internal or external trigger and the high- and low-voltage levels of the pulses. More-sophisticated pulse generators may allow control over the rise timeand fall timeof the pulses. Pulse generators may use digitaltechniques, analog techniques, or a combination of both techniques to form the output pulses. For example, the pulse repetition rate and duration may be digitally controlled but the pulse amplitude and rise and fall times may be determined by analog circuitry in the output stage of the pulse generator. With correct adjustment, pulse generators can also produce a 50% duty cycle square wave. Pulse generators are generally single-channel providing one frequency, delay, width and output. To produce multiple pulses, these simple pulse generators would have to be ganged in series or in parallel.
A new family of pulse generators can produce multiple-channels of independent widths and delays and independent outputs and polarities. Often called digital delay/pulse generators, the newest designs even offer differing repetition rates with each channel. These
digital delay generators are useful in synchronizing, delaying, gating and triggering multiple devices usually with respect to one event. One is also able to multiplex the timing of several channels onto one channel in order to trigger or even gate the same device multiple times.
Pulse generators are available for generating output pulses having widths (durations) ranging from minutes down to under 1 picosecond. In general, generators for pulses with widths over a few microseconds employ digital counters for timing these pulses, while widths between approximately 1 nanosecond and several microseconds are typically generated by analog techniques such as RC (resistor-capacitor) networks or switched delay lines. Pulse generators capable of generating pulses with widths under approximately 100 picoseconds are often termed "microwave pulsers", and typically generate these ultra-short pulses using
Step recovery diode(SRD) or Nonlinear Transmission Line (NLTL) methods (see, for example, [http://amsacta.cib.unibo.it/archive/00001623/01/GAAS_98_081.pdf] ). Step Recovery Diode pulse generators are inexpensive but typically require several volts of input drive level and have a moderately high level of random jitter (usually undesirable variation in the time at which successive pulses occur). NLTL-based pulse generators generally have lower jitter, but are more complex to manufacture, and are not suited for integration in low-cost monolithic ICs. A new class of microwave pulse generation architecture, the RACE (Rapid Automatic Cascode Exchange) pulse generation circuit [http://www.mwjournal.com/Journal/article.asp?HH_ID=AR_6311] , [http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?u=%2Fnetahtml%2Fsrchnum.htm&Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&r=1&l=50&f=G&d=PALL&s1=6433720.PN.&OS=PN/6433720&RS=PN/6433720] , is implemented using low-cost monolithic IC technology and can produce pulses as short as 1 picosecond, and with a repetition rates exceeding 30 billion pulses per second. These pulsers are typically used in military communications applications, and low-power microwave transceiver ICs. Such pulsers, if driven by a continuous frequency clock, will as microwave comb generators, having output freqency components at integer multiples of the pulse repetition rate, and extending to well over 100 gigahertz (see, for example, [http://bwrc.eecs.berkeley.edu/Seminars/Seminars%202008/Furaxa_40908%20presentation.pdf] ).
Pulse generators are generally voltage sources, with true current pulse generators being available only from a few suppliers.
These pulses can then be injected into a device under test and used as a stimulus or clock signal or analyzed as they progress through the device, confirming the proper operation of the device or pinpointing a fault in the device. Pulse generators are also used to drive devices such as switches, lasers and optical components, modulators, intensifiers as well as resistive loads.The output of a pulse generator may also be used as the modulation signal for a signal generator.
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