Pulse Stretcher - v1

A first try at this pulse stretcher circuit based on the LT1711 comparator. I need it for stretching a short 10ns pulse from a PMT.

stretcher_sch_2014-02-13

The idea is to use the output latch of the LT1711. Once the output goes high, the combination C4 R4 keeps the latch pin (and thus the output) high for a time R*C. The Schottky diode is there to prevent the latch pin from swinging to far negative once the output goes low.

stretcher_pcb_2014-02-13

The PCB is made to fit into a BNC-BNC enclosure such as the ones from Pomona.

pulse_stretcher_prototype

Messing up the pin-order of voltage regulators is becoming a habit! Note how the regulator is mounted the wrong way round compared to the PCB design - because I had the pin order wrong in my schematic.

pulse_stretcher_input_output

I used a Keithley 50 MHz function generator to generate a 20ns long input pulse (the shortest possible from the Keithley) and the pulse-stretcher outputs a ca 483 ns output pulse. The prototype used a 1 nF capacitor with a 500 Ohm resistor which gives a nominal time-constant of 500 ns. The output pulse duration is far from constant and varies quite a bit from pulse to pulse.

pulse_stretcher_propagation_delay

This verifies that the propagation delay of the LT1711 in this circuit is within specifications, ca 4.5 ns. In addition to the comparator there is also maybe 70 mm of BNC-connectors, wires, and PCB-traces in the signal path, but that would add only ~350 ps to the propagation delay (assuming 2e8 m/s signal velocity).

One problem with this design is that it is sensitive to the load impedance connected to the output. With a 1 MOhm setting on the oscilloscope the pulse-length is correct, but switching to a 50 Ohm load impedance allows the capacitor to discharge significantly through the load impedance.

Version 2 of this circuit should thus add an output buffer (fast, low-jitter!) that can drive both 1 MOhm and 50 Ohm loads. An adjustable trigger level for the -Input of the LT1711 comparator could also be useful.

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