This paper describes the design and experimental evaluation of a multibit Sigma-Delta (ΣΔ) modulator (ΣΔM) with enhanced dynamic range (DR) through the use of nonlinear digital-to-analog converters (DACs) in the feedback paths. This nonlinearity imposes a trade-off between DR and distortion, which is well suited to the intended hearing aid application. The modulator proposed here uses a fully-differential self-biased amplifier and a 4-bit quantizer based on fully dynamic comparators employing MOS parametric pre-amplification to improve both energy and area efficiencies. A test chip was fabricated in a 130 nm digital CMOS technology, which includes the proposed modulator with nonlinear DACs and a modulator with conventional linear DACs, for comparison purposes. The measured results show that the ΣΔM using nonlinear DACs achieves an enhancement of the DR around 8.4 dB (to 91.4 dB). Power dissipation and silicon area are about the same for the two cases. The performance achieved is comparable to that of the best reported multibit ΣΔ ADCs, with the advantage of occupying less silicon area (7.5 times lower area when compared with the most energy efficient ΣΔM).
I E E E Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, 2013, Vol 7, Issue 3, p. 376-385