Ultra-low Quiescent Current NMOS Low Dropout Regulator With Fast Transient response for Always-On Internet-of-Things Applications

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The increased adoption of Internet-of-Things (IoT) for various applications like smart home, industrial automation, connected vehicles, medical instrumentation, etc. has resulted in a large scale distributed network of sensors, accompanied

The increased adoption of Internet-of-Things (IoT) for various applications like smart home, industrial automation, connected vehicles, medical instrumentation, etc. has resulted in a large scale distributed network of sensors, accompanied by their power supply regulator modules, control and data transfer circuitry. Depending on the application, the sensor location can be virtually anywhere and therefore they are typically powered by a localized battery. To ensure long battery-life without replacement, the power consumption of the sensor nodes, the supply regulator and, control and data transmission unit, needs to be very low. Reduction in power consumption in the sensor, control and data transmission is typically done by duty-cycled operation such that they are on periodically only for short bursts of time or turn on only based on a trigger event and are otherwise powered down. These approaches reduce their power consumption significantly and therefore the overall system power is dominated by the consumption in the always-on supply regulator.

Besides having low power consumption, supply regulators for such IoT systems also need to have fast transient response to load current changes during a duty-cycled operation. Supply regulation using low quiescent current low dropout (LDO) regulators helps in extending the battery life of such power aware always-on applications with very long standby time. To serve as a supply regulator for such applications, a 1.24 µA quiescent current NMOS low dropout (LDO) is presented in this dissertation. This LDO uses a hybrid bias current generator (HBCG) to boost its bias current and improve the transient response. A scalable bias-current error amplifier with an on-demand buffer drives the NMOS pass device. The error amplifier is powered with an integrated dynamic frequency charge pump to ensure low dropout voltage. A low-power relaxation oscillator (LPRO) generates the charge pump clocks. Switched-capacitor pole tracking (SCPT) compensation scheme is proposed to ensure stability up to maximum load current of 150 mA for a low-ESR output capacitor range of 1 - 47µF. Designed in a 0.25 µm CMOS process, the LDO has an output voltage range of 1V – 3V, a dropout voltage of 240 mV, and a core area of 0.11 mm2.