Electronic device that generates timing-control pulses for tests and experiments using the field programmable gate array (FPGA).
- Based on latest FPGA technology and supersedes commercially-available systems.
- Precise timing control with nanosecond time resolution with fast transitions and low jitter.
- Large number of channels and controllable channel outputs.
- Long pulse duration that satisfies relaxation-type experiments.
- Fast and flexible programming capabilities and customizable configurations.
Timing pulse generators are used in industry tests and scientific experiments in the fields of acoustic emission, eddy current, infrared and thermal imaging, liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, radiography, ultrasonics and visual, and optical and photonic testing. During related tests, instruments have to be synchronized and controlled by a central device, which generate timing-control pulses for signaling or switching. The two currently available types of pulse generators are digital delay generators and arbitrary waveform generators (AWG). The disadvantages of these pulse generators are that the total number of pulses is determined by the total number of outputs on all devices and additional circuitries are needed to combine pulse outputs. The arbitrary waveform generator has maximum pulse pattern durations and is therefore limited by the memory size. In addition, programming the pulse pattern into the memory requires substantial setup time. Finally, another research group designed a customized application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip; however its use is greatly limited due to its inflexibility, difficulty to adjust, and its need of additional circuitry to function as a standalone device.
Emory researchers have developed a pulse generator and programmer that generates timing-control pulses for scientific experiments and addresses the disadvantages of previous systems. It has nanosecond resolution with fast transitions, low jitter, large number of channels, fast and flexible programming capabilities, and long enough pulse durations. With current devices, sometimes 5-6 pulse generators are needed to control all the devices in an experiment. Here, only one is needed. The device can be programmed in 50 ms or less. Additionally, it has 48 output channels and can be configured for up to 200. The maximum clock speed has been increased to 1 GHz and the entire setup is completely modular, which can be configured to best suit the user's needs.
Prototype is fully functional and in use in the laboratory.