This paper proposes a new optoelectronic delay locked loop (OE-DLL) and its use in optical ranging systems. The so called PMD-DLL receiver module is based on a novel electro-optical modulator (EOM), called the Photonic Mixer Device (PMD). This sensor element is a semiconductor device, which combines fast optical sensing and mixing of incoherent light signals in one component part by its unique and powerful principle of operation. Integration of some simple additional on-chip components offers a high integrated electro-optical correlation unit. Simulations and experimental results have already impressively verified the operation principle of PMD structures, all realized in CMOS technology so far. Although other technologies are also promising candidates for the PMD realization they should not be further discussed in this contribution. The principle of the new DLL approach is intensively discussed in this paper. Theoretical analysis as well as experimental results of a realized PMD-DLL system are demonstrated and judged. Due to the operation principle of sophisticated PMD devices and their unique features, a correlation process may be realized in order to synchronize a reflected incoherent light wave with an electronic reference signal. The phase shift between both signals represents the distance to an obstacle and may be determined by means of the synchronization process. This new approach, avoiding so far needed critical components such as broadband amplifiers and mixers for the detection of small photo currents in optical distance measurement, offers an extremely fast and precise phase determination in ranging applications based on the time- of-flight (TOF) principle. However, the optical measurement signal may be incoherent -- therefore a laser source is not needed imperatively. The kind of waveform used for the modulation of the light signal is variable and depends on the demands of every specific application. Even if there are plenty other alternatives (e.g., heterodyne techniques), in this contribution only so called quasi-heterodyne techniques - - also known as phase shifting methods -- are discussed and used for the implementation. The light modulation schemes described in this contribution are square-wave as well as pseudo-noise modulation. The latter approach, inspired by the wide spread use in communication as well as in position detection (e.g., IS-95 and GPS), offers essential advantages and is the most promising modulation method for the ranging approach. So called CDMA (code division multiple access) systems form a major task in communication technology investigations since the third generation mobile phone standard is also partly based on this principle. Fast and reliable synchronization in direct sequence spread spectrum communication systems (DSSS) differs hardly from the already mentioned ranging approach and will also be discussed. The possibility to integrate all components in a monolithic PMD based DLL design is also presented and discussed. This method might offer the feature to integrate complete lines or matrixes of PMD based DLLs for highly parallel, multidimensional ranging. Finally, an outlook is given with regard to further optimized PMD front ends. An estimation of the expected characteristics concerning accuracy and speed of the distance measurement is given in conclusion.