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Periodically Disturbed Oscillators


Hong, Brian Daffern (2019) Periodically Disturbed Oscillators. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/W0A7-4258.


By controlling the timing of events and enabling the transmission of data over long distances, oscillators can be considered to generate the "heartbeat" of modern electronic systems. Their utility, however, is boosted significantly by their peculiar ability to synchronize to external signals that are themselves periodic in time. Although this fascinating phenomenon has been studied by scientists since the 1600s, models for describing this behavior have seen a disconnect between the rigorous, methodical approaches taken by mathematicians and the design-oriented, physically-based analyses carried out by engineers. While the analytical power of the former is often concealed by an inundation of abstract mathematical machinery, the accuracy and generality of the latter are constrained by the empirical nature of the ensuing derivations. We hope to bridge that gap here.

In this thesis, a general theory of electrical oscillators under the influence of a periodic injection is developed from first principles. Our approach leads to a fundamental yet intuitive understanding of the process by which oscillators lock to a periodic injection, as well as what happens when synchronization fails and the oscillator is instead injection pulled. By considering the autonomous and periodically time-varying nature that underlies all oscillators, we build a time-synchronous model that is valid for oscillators of any topology and periodic disturbances of any shape. A single first-order differential equation is shown to be capable of making accurate, quantitative predictions about a wide array of properties of periodically disturbed oscillators: the range of injection frequencies for which synchronization occurs, the phase difference between the injection and the oscillator under lock, stable vs. unstable modes of locking, the pull-in process toward lock, the dynamics of injection pulling, as well as phase noise in both free-running and injection-locked oscillators. The framework also naturally accommodates superharmonic injection-locked frequency division, subharmonic injection-locked frequency multiplication, and the general case of an arbitrary rational relationship between the injection and oscillation frequencies. A number of novel insights for improving the performance of systems that utilize injection locking are also elucidated. In particular, we explore how both the injection waveform and the oscillator's design can be modified to optimize the lock range. The resultant design techniques are employed in the implementation of a dual-moduli prescaler for frequency synthesis applications which features low power consumption, a wide operating range, and a small chip area.

For the commonly used inductor-capacitor (LC) oscillator, we make a simple modification to our framework that takes the oscillation amplitude into account, greatly enhancing the model's accuracy for large injections. The augmented theory uniquely captures the asymmetry of the lock range as well as the distinct characteristics exhibited by different types of LC oscillators. Existing injection locking and pulling theories in the available literature are subsumed as special cases of our model. It is important to note that even though the veracity of our theoretical predictions degrades as the size of the injection grows due to our framework's linearization with respect to the disturbance, our model's validity across a broad range of practical injection strengths are borne out by simulations and measurements on a diverse collection of integrated LC, ring, and relaxation oscillators. Lastly, we also present a phasor-based analysis of LC and ring oscillators which yields a novel perspective into how the injection current interacts with the oscillator's core nonlinearity to facilitate injection locking.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Oscillator; Synchronization; Injection Locking; Injection Pulling; Superharmonic; Subharmonic; Frequency Divider
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Electrical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Hajimiri, Ali
Thesis Committee:
  • Hajimiri, Ali (chair)
  • Emami, Azita
  • Vaidyanathan, P. P.
  • Yang, Changhuei
Defense Date:17 July 2018
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Air Force Office of Scientific ResearchFA9550-16-1-0566
Northrop Grumman Corporation8140000812
National Institutes of Health (NIH)51013.914960.6692
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:07262018-030251324
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted from Chapters 1-4, 8. adapted from Chapters 3, 5-9. adapted for Chapter 10. adapted for Section 12.1. to the paper adapted for Section 12.1.
Hong, Brian Daffern0000-0001-8099-0312
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11136
Deposited By: Brian Hong
Deposited On:21 Aug 2018 19:18
Last Modified:25 May 2021 20:25

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