jueves, 28 de enero de 2010

Single-ended and differential amplifiers

For ease of drawing complex circuit diagrams, electronic amplifiers are often symbolized by a simple triangle shape, where the internal components are not individually represented. This symbology is very handy for cases where an amplifier's construction is irrelevant to the greater function of the overall circuit, and it is worthy of familiarization:

The +V and -V connections denote the positive and negative sides of the DC power supply, respectively. The input and output voltage connections are shown as single conductors, because it is assumed that all signal voltages are referenced to a common connection in the circuit called ground. Often (but not always!), one pole of the DC power supply, either positive or negative, is that ground reference point. A practical amplifier circuit (showing the input voltage source, load resistance, and power supply) might look like this:
Without having to analyze the actual transistor design of the amplifier, you can readily discern the whole circuit's function: to take an input signal (Vin), amplify it, and drive a load resistance (Rload). To complete the above schematic, it would be good to specify the gains of that amplifier (AV, AI, AP) and the Q (bias) point for any needed mathematical analysis.

If it is necessary for an amplifier to be able to output true AC voltage (reversing polarity) to the load, a split DC power supply may be used, whereby the ground point is electrically "centered" between +V and -V. Sometimes the split power supply configuration is referred to as a dual power supply.
The amplifier is still being supplied with 30 volts overall, but with the split voltage DC power supply, the output voltage across the load resistor can now swing from a theoretical maximum of +15 volts to -15 volts, instead of +30 volts to 0 volts. This is an easy way to get true alternating current (AC) output from an amplifier without resorting to capacitive or inductive (transformer) coupling on the output. The peak-to-peak amplitude of this amplifier's output between cutoff and saturation remains unchanged.

By signifying a transistor amplifier within a larger circuit with a triangle symbol, we ease the task of studying and analyzing more complex amplifiers and circuits. One of these more complex amplifier types that we'll be studying is called the differential amplifier. Unlike normal amplifiers, which amplify a single input signal (often called single-ended amplifiers), differential amplifiers amplify the voltage difference between two input signals. Using the simplified triangle amplifier symbol, a differential amplifier looks like this:
The two input leads can be seen on the left-hand side of the triangular amplifier symbol, the output lead on the right-hand side, and the +V and -V power supply leads on top and bottom. As with the other example, all voltages are referenced to the circuit's ground point. Notice that one input lead is marked with a (-) and the other is marked with a (+). Because a differential amplifier amplifies the difference in voltage between the two inputs, each input influences the output voltage in opposite ways.


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