Very Low Power 32kHz Oscillator

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

The 32-kHz low-power clock oscillator offers numerous advantages over conventional oscillator circuits based on a CMOS inverter. Such inverter circuits present problems, for example, supply currents fluctuate widely over a 3V to 6V supply range, while current consumption below 250 µA is difficult to attain. Also, operation can be unreliable with

Very Low Power 32kHz Oscillator
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wide variations in the supply voltage and the inverter`s input characteristics are subject to wide tolerances and differences among manufacturers. The circuit shown here solves the above problems. Drawing just 13 µA from a 3V supply, it consists of a one-transistor amplifier/oscillator (T1) and a low-power comparator/reference device (IC1). The base of T1 is biased at 1. 25 V using R5/R4 and the reference in IC1. T1 may be any small-signal transistor with a decent beta of 100 or so at 5 µA (defined here by R3, fixing the collector voltage at about 1 V below Vcc). The amplifier`s nominal gain is approximately 2 V/V. The quartz crystal combined with load capacitors C1 and C3 forms a feedback path around T1, whose 180 degrees of phase shift causes the oscillation. The bias voltage of 1. 25 V for the comparator inside the MAX931 is defined by the reference via R2. The comparator`s input swing is thus accurately centred around the reference voltage. Operating at 3 V and 32 kHz, IC1 draws just 7 µA. The comparator output can source and sink 40 mA and 5 mA respectively, which is ample for most low-power loads. However, the moderate rise/fall times of 500 ns and 100 ns respectively can cause standard, high-speed CMOS logic to draw higher than usual switching currents. The optional 74HC14 Schmitt trigger shown at the circuit output can handle the comparator`s rise/fall times with only a small penalty in supply current.

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