Recent advances in electronics and counter construction techniques have pus
hed the timing resolution of resistive plate chambers below 50 ps sigma, wi
th a detection efficiency of 99% for minimum ionizing particles. In this pa
per, we describe a new front-end electronic chain for accurate time and cha
rge measurement in these devices.
The circuit includes a fast (2.5 GHz) two-stage amplifier based on monolith
ic microwave integrated circuits that feeds a fixed threshold discriminator
followed by an external time-to-digital converter. The amplified signal is
also buffered into an external charge-to-digital converter. All components
are commercially available and their number is rather reduced.
The system was tested with realistic detector-generated test signals, yield
ing a timing resolution around 10 ps sigma for signal charges above 100 fC
and a charge resolution of 3.2 fC.