This paper investigates the metastability of true single-phase clock (TSPC) D flip flops (DFFs) and its impact on the resolution of Vernier time-to-digital converters (TDCs). The mechanisms of the metastability of TSPC DFFs are investigated and the analytical expressions of setup time and hold time are obtained. A shunt capacitor technique capable of reducing setup time and hold time to zero with no power and delay penalty is proposed. The impact of PVT (process, voltage, temperature) on the effectiveness of the proposed technique is quantified using simulation. Vernier TDCs, both right-shifting and left-shifting, with untuned and tuned DFFs are designed in TSMC 130 nm 1.2 V CMOS technology and analyzed using Spectre with BSIM3V3 device models. Simulation results demonstrate TDCs with tuned DFFs enjoy zero conversion error while the right-shifting and left-shifting TDCs with untuned DFFs have 1-bit and 5-bit conversion errors or 11% and 56% error rates, respectively.
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Improved Metastability of True Single-Phase Clock D-Flipflops With Applications in Vernier Time-to-Digital Converters