Zero crossing detector for high frequencies

Thread Starter


Joined Oct 10, 2008

I am currently looking for a way to make a zero crossing detector (i.e. a detector that generates a TTL signal each time an input sine or square signal crosses the zero axis). The signals that I want to process have a very large bandwidth (from 0 to 100 MHz), so I need the generated TTL signals to correspond with a good precision to the real zero crossing points. I found a website showing ZC detectors based on XOR gates or comparators, but I was told that for high frequencies (above several MHz) some of the components are too slow and do not give reliable results.
Does someone have an idea on the way to make it?

Another challenge is that I would like also to be able to count (or to make a signal that is proportional to) the elapsed time between two successive zero crosses. This gives the time duration (i.e. a frequency measurement)for each frequency cycle. I do not know if there exists a circuit that is able to do that for such high frequencies.

Thanks a lot for your help.


Joined Mar 24, 2008
The only practical use for period style measurements I know of is slow waveforms, something in the realm of 1Hz or slower. That way you can get a frequency measurement in one pulse. Fast frequencies, where you can get 6 digits with 1 second samples, don't really need period measurements.

Given you can calculate accurately period or frequency if you have the other I guess I don't see the point. Most high end counters will measure a pulse width, which is pretty much the same thing.

Most folks already know what I've said, just asking the quesion, why this way?


Joined Nov 9, 2007
If you are hoping to reach 100Mhz in TTL you need to use the 74XXS series, none of the others are fast enough including 74XXLS.

Also be prepared to supply plenty of juice, speeders are thirsty.

As an alternative you could bone up on your FM radio theory. There were a few pulse counting discriminator designs in the past.


Joined Aug 1, 2013
RonH beat me to it. In the 70's I made an FM limiter out of ECL running on +5 V rather than -5.2 V (PECL hadn't been invented yet). The input was color video modulated on a 7 MHz to 11 MHz FM carrier, recovered from videotape and DC biased to the middle of the ECL transition region. Worked like a charm. The same thing should work today with newer parts.



Joined Aug 21, 2008
A long time ago,needing a very fast zero crossing detector I used a 74XXS inverter (similar to sstudiot's mention in post #4) biased to slice a high speed video signal.

Later I found that ASIC designs can do 1 ns analog comparators easily. Along the line of analog comparators consider giving the LM10 a look.