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4, AUGUST1974 159

An Integrated Wide-Band Variable-Gain Amplifier with

Maximum Dynamic Range

Absfract—The design of an integrated wide-band variable-gain mismatch in the quad transistors. On the other hand, the
amplifier with maximum dynamic range is approached by considering multiplier has a constant de output level which is most
three basic bipolar transistor configurations from which all others
suitable for cascading [5]. Gilbert’s quad also suffers
can be derived. The analysis of noise and of distortion shows the
from high distortion if the dynamic range is made large.
importance of transistor base resistance in all three circuits. On the
basis of these analyses, one configuration is shown to yield maximum In general, the output distortion can be reduced by
dynamic range, and this configuration is then used as the basis for using lower signal levels. However, the noise generated
the development of a new circuit called the improved automatic-gain in the amplifier then becomes important and limits the
control (age) amplifier. A unique biasing scheme allows a consider-
dynamic range. This noise is mainly due again to the base
able reduction in distortion and noise, together with a significant
resistances of the quad transistors and also to the col-
increase “in bandwidth compared with conventional circuits.
lector loads. A noise analysis for the three basic con-
figurations is given in Section II. It leads to the conclu-
I. INTRODUCTION sion that again the agc amplifier [Fig. 1 (a) ] is superior

v ARIABLE-gain
put signal is kept constant for all input
amplifiers are most often used in
as automatic-gain-control
where the amplitude of the out-
signal levels. The
to the


that can
be achieved
value, then,
a given
to the
on the
ratio of maximum-to-minimum input signal amplitude transistor base resistance.
that can be handled is called the dynamic range. In order to realize effectively this optimum dynamic
Most wide-band variable-gain amplifiers can be de- range, the value of the total quad current ~EE has to be
rived from three high-performance amplifiers which all properly selected, Also, in order to maintain the optimum
consist of a quadruple of transistors driven by an input performance of the quad, the input pair [Fig. 1 (a)] has
pair. They are the age amplifier [1] shown in Fig. 1 (a), to provide a voltage-to-current conversion which is highly
the multiplier [2] shown in Fig. 1 (b), and Gilbert’s linear over a wide frequency range. This can be accomp-
variable-gain quad [3] shown in Fig. 1 (c). Considera- lished by a high pair current Ip. Thus, in order to achieve
tions are restricted to balanced circuit configurations be- optimum performance from the quad, a bias scheme must
cause of the resulting cancellation of even-order distor- be employed which allows differing values of 1P and ~EE.

tion [4]. Input and output ports are differential, and The agc amplifier which combines a low quad current ~EIS

input and output impedance are independent of amplifier with a high pair current 1P is the improved age amplifier.
gain. In order to reduce the noise contribution from fol- In Section IV the choice of the currents IBN and IP in the
lowing stages, the maximum gain is larger than unity and improved age amplifier is discussed.
is typically about 15 dB. This automatically excludes
varioloss circuits.
It has been previously [4] reported that the distortion The basic agc amplifiers all consist of a. quadruple of
in the basic amplifiers of Fig. 1 is mainly caused by transistors formed from emitter-coupled pairs. Therefore,
the base resistances of the quad transistors. For high- the dominant noise sources are examined first for an
dynamic range, the ag,e amplifier [Fig, 1 (a) 1 exhibits the emitter-driven pair (Fig. 2).
lowest distortion and is thus the best choice. The dynamic
A. A’oise Analysis of an Emitter-Driven Pair
range of the multiplier [Fig. 1 (b) ] is limited due to
In a transistor, the following types of noise are con-
sidered [7] : the thermal noise power generated in the
Manuscript received October 26, 1973; revised February 18,
1974. This research was supported by the U. S. Army, Research base resistance, and the shot noise powers caused by the
Office, Durham, N. C., under Grant DA-ARO-D31-124-72-G52. de current flow in the base and the collector. For the
W. M. C. Sansen was with the Department of Electrical Engi-
emitter-driven pair (Fig. 2), six noise sources have to be
neering and Computer Sciences and the Electronics Research Lab-
oratory, University of California, Berkeley, Calif. W720. tie is considered (two per transistor), and also the thermal
now with the Laboratorium Fysica en Elektronica van de Half- noise associated with resistances Rs, R,g, and RL. The
geleidem, Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium. noise contributions at the output due to the most im-
R. G. Meyer is with the Department of Electrical Engineering
and Computer Sciences and the Electronics Research Laboratory, portant noise sources are plotted versus the relative
University of California, Berkeley, Calif. 94720. voltage gain x in Fig. 3. These curves are the results of

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v.. v~~

. .


+ R~


(R,) (b)


< QI Q1>

? !


Fig. 1. (a) age amplifier [11. (b) Multiplier [21. (c) Gilbert’s
variable-gain quadruple [31.



Q3 1)4

. /1~ ~



Fig. 2. Emitter-driven variable-gain pair.

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Relolive attenuation x ( dB)

Fig. 3. Noise voltage contributions of the dominant noise sources

in the emitter-driven pair (Fig. 2) plotted versus signal at-
tenuation z for transistors CA 3018 at 1, = 4 mA, R. = 50061,
R,=50Q, and Rs=25Q. — computer; o measured.

straightforward circuit analysis by hand, verified by com- If the pair is used as an agc circuit for constant out-
puter noise analysis with CANCER [6]. put signal, then the curve of output sig~~al-to-noise ratio
The relative voltage gain z is determined by the dc &/No is precisely the inverse of the noise characteristic
control voltage V~ and is given by of Fig. 3. The output signal-to-noise ratio is a more
useful measure of noise than the noise figure because
(1) the noise figure depends on the circuit gain, which is
variable. At maximum gain, the amplitude of the input
At full gain (Z = 1 or 0 dB attenuation), the pair behaves signal reaches its lowest value, but at half the maximum
as a cascode amplifier with gain RL/RE. The total noise gain (where the amplitude of the input signal is twice
output is low and mainly due to transistor Q1 and re- this lowest value), the value of SO/NO is minimum. For
sistance RE. However, at half gain (x = 1/2 or 6 dB at- higher input signals, the attenuation increases, and so
tenuation), the currents in transistors Q~ and QA are does S./NO [1] until SO/NO levels out because of the noise
equal, and the noise due to the base resistances of Qs and due to RT,. Thus, for a specific minimum requirement in
Q1 causes a large output noise peak with a value given by Se/NO over the whole dynamic range, only the amount
of noise at half the maximum gain has to be examined.
v,. = ~kT(r,>m ~ V,.. (2) Under all other gain conditions, &JiVo is higher and
automatically satisfies the requirement.
where VT = kT/q != 26 mV at 302 K and At represents For the multiplier used as a variable-gain circuit [Fig.
the noise power bandwidth. For increasing attenuation, 1 (b)], the maximum output noise is again due to the
the current in transistor Q4 decreases such that the con- base resistances of the quad. However, whereas for the
tribution at the output of the base resistance noise de- agc amplifier of Fig. 1 (a) the base resistance noise peaks
creases proportionally. at half the maximum gain and decreases at higher at-
If the pair current ID is very low, the base resistance tenuation levels, the base resistance noise for the multi-
noise peak given by (2) may become lower than the shot plier also reaches its peak at half the maximum gain,
noise of Q4 (which decreases only as ~~B), or lower than but then remains the same for higher attenuation because
the noise output of R~ and R~, which does not depend the currents in all four quad transistors are then nearly
on 1~. This is only true for very low values of In at equal in magnitude. This leads to the surprising result
which wide-band performance is hard to obtain. As a that S,/NO is minimum at high attenuation. The reverse
consequence, higher currents are usually chosen, and holds for the agc quad. It can thus be concluded that in
the maximum noise peak is thus entirely due to the base noise performance, the multiplier is inferior to the agc
resistances in the pair. It is given by (2) and occurs at quad since the noise peak due to base resistance, although
half the maximum gain. in amplitude the same for both, extends over all high
attenuation levels in the multiplier.
B. Comparison of the Noise Performance of the For Gilbert’s quad [Fig. 1 (c)], the :maximum output
Three Basic Quads noise voltage due to base resistance occurs at maximum
The noise output power of the agc quad is simply twice gain and equals 2@ times the noise peak for the agc
that of the emitter-driven pair. It is thus found from quad if base resistance and quad current are assumed to
Fig. 3 by shifting the curves up by 3 dB. Experimental be equal. Used in an agc loop, Gilbert,’s quad thus ex-
data show good agreement with the calculated curves. hibits its minimum SO/NO for its smallest input signal

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level, and S,/NO improves for increasing input signal, as 10 , 1 I I

is also the case for the age amplifier. However, since the
peak noise output for Gilbert’s quad is larger than that =
~ lrJl
from the agc amplifier, the latter is preferred for a large
dynamic range. a)
For the agc amplifier at high frequencies, the noise ~ ,.-3 _

contributions from RL, Ql, and 1C4 in Fig. 3 remain ap- =

proximately constant, but the noise output voltage due to .:

r~ decreases with a slope of 20 dB/decade above the —3

dB frequency defined by r~ and the common emitter 0
x= I 05 noise
input capacitance CT. In a first-order analysis, noise gen-
,.-7 I I 1 I 1 I I
eration at high frequencies is thus less important than at 0.001 0,0[ o.I
low frequencies, and therefore need not be considered Fraction Current Swing iP

further. The frequency-dependent noise was computed by

CANCER [6]. Similar conclusions apply for the multiplier Fig. 4. Output signal voltage v. versus fractional current swing in
for a given, quad current I~E and signal-to-noise ratio n.
and Gilbert’s quad.
The comparison of the noise performance of the three
basic configurations shows that the best performance can where VO,lI is given by (3). The potential dynamic range
be expected from the agc amplifier [Fig. 1 (a)]. Since a DRP is represented by the complete line segment BC in
similar conclusion was reached for distortion perform- Fig. 4.
ance [4], the agc amplifier is the obvious choice for a Under high gain conditions (points on BC close to B),
variable-gain amplifier with maximum dynamic range. the dynamic range is limited by noise if a specific value
A design based on this configuration is now considered of output signal-to-noise ratio &/N. = n is to be
in detail. achieved. This is illustrated in Fig. 4. The curve of total
output noise obtained from Fig. 3 is added in Fig. 4 on
III. THE MAXIMUM DYNAMIC RANGE OF THE agc the same vertical scale as for output voltage VO. On the
horizontal scale, however, O dB relative attenuation
(z = 1) for the noise curve coincides with maximum
A. Optimum Dynamic Range of the agc Amplifier voltage gainAV,~l.x (point B) for the chosen value of
In the agc amplifier, represented in Fig. 1 (a), the am- output signal voltage VO. As a consequence, variation of
plitude of the output signal voltage is determined by the V. causes B to shift on the AV,~,x line and also causes
voltage gain A., which is controlled by the dc voltage V~, the noise curve to translate over the same horizontal dis-
and by the fractional current swing iP, which is defined tance as B. The vertical distance between the constant-vO
as the ratio of the ac peak current to the dc quiescent line BC and the noise curve is always a direct measure
current. and which is caused by input voltage vi. The of the output signal-to-noise ratio S,/NO.
amplitude of the output voltage which is obtained for In order to realize an output voltage VOwith minimum
maximum A. and unity current swing ig is the highest signal-to-noise ratio n, only the gain conditions repre-
possible. It is given by sented by the line CD (Fig. 4) are usable. Actually, the
narrow region close to B also satisfies, but is isolated
from the ‘[continuous” dynamic range CD and therefore
not considered. The resultant dynamic range is then
given by
and is represented by point A in the plot of the output
signal voltage VO versus the fractional current swing iP
DR = DR. – DRN (5)
(Fig. 4). Any output voltage VO lower than VOII can be
obtained by reducing either AO or i~ or both. In the plot where DRN represents (in decibels) the reduction in
of Fig. 4, all combinations of A. and iv that yield identi- dynamic range due to the noise peak.
cal values of VO are represented by the straight line l?C. If the value of n is allowed to decrease, then for
At point B, A. is maximum, whereas at point C’, i. equals n = vo/v08, point D slides towards point B, and the

unity. Maximum gain AV{~.x is achieved for all points on resultant dynamic range DR jumps up towards the po-

line AB. Lines parallel to Al? thus represent constant tential dynamic range DRP which is the maximum pos-

–A. lines (e.g., the AO,~.x –20 dB line). sible for the chosen value of VO. It is more practical from

Neglecting the effects of distortion and noise, the maxi- the viewpoint of the designer, however, to let the value

mum dynamic range DR,W for a specific output. signal of VO vary for a given minimum requirement n, and to

level VO equals the potential dynamic range DEP, which find out what maximum dynamic range can be achieved
is given by for each value of VO. The answer is given in Fig. 5 where
DR is plotted versus VOfor a given value of n and a con-
stant total quad current I~H.
DItP = 20 log,, ~Z dB (4)
o The maximum dynamic range DR1l is obtained at out-

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g 40 –

4x or 12dB

-1 60

E ,
: 20
due 10 lc-
due 10RL

OR limited by noise.,.
! ‘ore’ fi.%tJ
I I 1 I
‘0.01 0,I I 10 100
0.1 I 10 100
Output voltage v, [mV) Quad current IEE ( mAl

Fig. 6. Asymptotic values of maximum dynamic range DRM of

Fig. 5. Dynamic range DR versus output signal voltage v. for a
the age amplifier versus quad current ZEE for given values of
given quad current 1., and signal-to-noise ratio n. Reduction in
signal-to-noise ratio n, third-order distortion d, and collector
dynamic range due to distortion is not taken into account.
load Rr,.

put voltage v.,,,, which equals n times the peak noise

realized in the agc amplifier. The reduction in dynamic
voltage VON derived by (2). The value of DRM then
range DRD due to third-order distortion d at low fre-
equals the potential dynamic range DRP and is given by
quencies is given by [4]

DR. = — (6)
nw’’lcT(r~,,, + r,,,,) Af (8)

and vO,,Lis then given by Since the circuit is balanced, ideally, no second-order
distortion is present.
“m =
v— (7) For specific values of output signal-to-noise ratio n
DR~ “72”
and distortion d, the maximum dynamic range depends
This value of DR.Tl is the highest that can be achieved on the quad current 1~~, as it is shown in Fig. 6. For in-
with this type of bipolar transistor, It only depends on termediate values of l~n, the maximum dynamic range is
the base resistances of the quad transistors, whereas the optimum, as given by (6). For lower va Iues of IE~, noise
optimum output voltage vO,,, also depends on the quad due to R,, reduces the maximum dynamic range, whereas
current 1~~ and load RI,. If, for example, all four base for higher values of Ifl~, the maximum dynamic range is
resistances equal 100 Q and A~ = 4.5 MHz, then n“ DR,W decreased by distortion. The optimum value of Imn is thus
equals 83 dB from (6). If the required output signal-to- obtained at the edge of the distortion-limited region,
noise ratio is 40 dB, then 43 dB is the maximum dynamic which is designated by 1~~1. at low frequencies. For ex-
range. This is obtained at VO = 10.7 mVr~, if Rz = 500 fi ample, 1~~1,, equals 12 mA for c1 = 0.01 (1 percent IMs)
and 1~~ = 4 mA from (7). and rI)/P = 1. Actually, any current in the flat region
If the chosen output voltage VOis greater than vO,,,,the yields the same value of DR1,, but the output signal
potential dynamic range decreases [see Fig. 5 or expres- level VOis proportional to l~,j [see expression (7)] and is
sion (4) ] and so does DRJ1. Noise does not limit the thus better chosen as high as possible.
dynamic range, and the output signal-to-noise ratio is At high frequencies, the distortion increases consider-
then always greater than the required value of n. On the ably [4] with frequency. For a specific value of maxi-
other hand, if the amplitude of the output signal VO is mum distortion d, the optimum value of 1~~ (Fig. 6) thus
reduced to values below v~,~,, the dynamic range is lim- decreases with increasing frequency and is now desig-
ited.. by base resistance noise such that the dynamic range nated by 1~~,,,. If, for example, f~ = 6 MHz, the maxi-
becomes independent of v, at a value 12 dB below DRl~. mum dynamic range decreases by 20 dB at 60 MHz,
This is caused by the equal slopes (20 dB/dec) of line unless 1~~ ]s lowered to l~~i~i = 1.2 mA. Also at high
AB and the curve of noise due to base resistance (Fig 4). frequencies, distortion due to feedthrough combines with
Indeed, when VO decreases, point B moves down and to the distortion due to base resistance and becomes the
the left along line AB. The noise curve moves only to the dominant limitation of dynamic range. This is treated in
left such that CD remains the same. If the amplitude of more detail in the next section.
output signal voltage is reduced further, the dynamic
B. High-Frequency I,imitations
range is limited by noise due to Rz or 1.4, whichever is
higher. In this region, both the values of DRJ1l and VO At high frequencies, the maximum dynamic range is
have become very low and thus are of little interest. usually not reached because of signal feedthrough via
Distortion also limits the dynamic range which can be the junction capacitances of Q, and Qfi [Fig. 1 (a) 1. A

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40 I I I ,






20 - 10dB
‘o - 30 dB

1 I I
. 100 loco
Frequency ( MHz)

Fig. 7. Attenuation versus frequency for the agc amplifier

[Fig. 1(a) 1 with transistors CA 3045 at (a) 1,, = 10 ZBG and
(b) IBE = I.. with IEG = 0.28 mA.

first-order estimate of this feedthrough is obtained in the following circuit considerations. At high gain, the output
following way. Under high attenuation conditions, tran- transistors behave as current-driven common base stages.
sistor Q3,6 is on, and thus represents at its emitter an The cutoff frequency is thus about J!”. However, under
impedance level which is never higher than ~E3,!3. Tran- maximum attenuation conditions, the output transistors
sistor Q4,5 is thus driven from a voltage source with QA and Q, exhibit a capacitive input impedance consist-
source impedance rB3,6 at. high frequencies and acts as a ing mainly of their junction capacitances CjE and Cjo.

second-order high-pass filter consisting of CjB, rBj ~jc, They are driven, however, by a current source shunted
a,nd RL, all belonging to QA,E. In this way, the feed- by the inductive input impedance of the other pair of
through is described by transition frequency ff given by transistors Q~ and QG. Peaking can thus occur. This can
be avoided, however, if the quad is biased at the quad
current given by [9]
“ = & ( T~3,f,TBr;ciEciC )

I . 2VT
—— (11)
EG —
where Cj~, Cfc, and w all refer to transistors Q4 and Q5. r~

Under high attenuation conditions, frequency fr gives the

because the pair transistors Q3 and Q6 then present con-
frequency f!, above which feedthrough becomes dominant
stant resistive input impedances (with value r~) to the
(and phase inverses) as given by
input signal currents.

f. = f,/ m (lo) IV. THE IMPROVED agc AMPLIFIER

where A is the attenuation (e.g., A = 100 for –40 dB In order to maintain the high performance of the quad,
attenuation). Expressions (9) and (10) have been veri- the input pair has to provide a voltage-to-current con-
fied by measurements on the agc amplifier [Fig. 1 (a)] version which is highly linear over a wide frequency
and by use of the circuit analysis program TIME [8]. range. This can only be accomplished by a high pair
The agreement is satisfactory except at very high fre- current Iv or a high value of degeneration resistance RE
quencies (above 300 MHz in Fig. 7) where transistors [Fig. 1 (a)]. Since a high R~ decreases the gain and
Q, and Q. can no longer be treated independently and causes a high noise output, the first solution is indicated.
where collector-substrate capacitances become important. On the other hand, the optimum dynamic range and the
Fig. 7 shows the transfer characteristic of the agc amp- flat transfer characteristic can only be realized at fairly
lifier [Fig. 1 (a)] for two different values of the quad low quad currents. As a consequence, different currents
current IE,E. For a high quad current, peaking occurs in are needed in the pair and the quad. The agc amplifier,
the transfer characteristic, which can be explained by the which combines a low quad current IEE with a high pair

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vcc 5



Qll 8
. .

Fig. 9. Integrated circuit of the improved agc amplifier (resistor

values in ohms).

1 A I

Fig. 8. Improved agc amplifier (ZP = IQ + Im).

current 19, is represented in Fig. 8. It is implemented in

the integrated circuit shown in Fig. 9. A microphotograph
of the circuit is given in Fig. 10. chosen sufficiently high to realize a large amount of emit-
ter degeneration with only a small value of emitter
A. The Performance of the Improved agc Amplifier
resistance. In this way, low levels of distortion and noise
In the improved agc amplifier (Fig,. 8), the resistances are maintained in the pair.
RB carry current IQ which is the difference between the Whereas the value of von is experimentally easy to
pair current 1P and the quad current IEE. The biasing is determine (n times maximum noise level), the value of
such that RB is always much larger than the input im- IHE for optimum dynamic range is much more difficult to
pedance of Qs,s or Q4,6. The voltage gain is then approxi- find. Fortunately, experimental work has shown that the
mately given by choice of the optimum value of IBE is not so critical as is
suggested in Fig. 6. The maximum dynamic range of
(12) 34.5 dB, obtained at InE = 1 mA, decreased by 3 dB at
the values of 0.4 and 1.5 mA. As a consequence, an ac-
if RJP >> VT. For the integrated circuit realized in the ceptable value of ~fl~ can be estimated from Fig. 6 and
Electronics Research Laboratory, University of Cali- from bandwidth considerations, and this value need not
fornia, Berkeley} the voltage gain is about 20 dB (RL = be further refined by experiments.
350i2; RE=300). Finally, it is interesting to compare the performance
For an output signal-to-noise ration =40 dB (Af = 4.5 of the improved agc amplifier and the agc amplifier of
MHz), the maximum dynamic range that can ever be Fig. 1 (a) with equal total currents. In the agc amplifier,
obtained is given by (6) and equals 43.6 dB, At low the quad current IEE equals the pair current IP so that
frequencies, any value of Ifl~ between 0.37 and 2.9 mA noise and distortion are greatly enhanced. For the IC
(= ~EZ710 in Fig. 6 for 1 percent IM3) allows that maxi- process used here, the worst case reduction in dynamic
mum to be achieved. However, at high frequencies (70 range that can occur is then 15.5 dB due to distortion
MHz), this maximum dynamic range of 43.6 dB can only and 15.5 dB due to noise. The actual reduction depends
be obtained if the quad current IBD is lower than 0.4 mA on the specifications of maximum distortion and output
(IEEM in Fig. 6). Since the bandwidth of the quad is then signal-to-noise ratio. For d = 1 percent and n = 401dB,
rather low, IDE = 1 mA is chosen so that only 34.5 dB the dynamic range decreases by approximately 21 dB. Of
dynamic range is available at 70 MHz. The optimum this amount, 12 dB is due to noise and 9 dB is due to
output voltage v.~ is then 5.9 mV,~,. Experimentally, distortion. At low frequencies, the decrease is only 17 dB,
the maximum dynamic range was found to be 33 dB, but is entirely due to noise.
which occurred at 3.5 mV,~~. The current levels were
I-E,E’ = 1 mA and 1P = 6 mA. The latter value was B. Integrated Circuit Realization oj the
Improved agc Amplifier.
The improved agc amplifier is implemented in an in-
1 Transistor parameters: rE4,5 = 105 ~; ~E3,6 = 65 ~; j“?mt. =
210 MHz; B = 22; CV(–5 V) = 2.1 PF; CCS(–5 V) = 3.1 PF. tegrated circuit (Fig. 9), fabricated using regular six-

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mask processing. Two types of n-p-n transistors are used transistor variable-gain amplifiers,” IEEE J. Solid-State Cir-
in the signal path. The first is a small-size transistor and
caits, vol. SC-$, pp. 275-282, Aug. 1973.
[51 J. Addis, “Three technologies on one chip make a broadband
is designed to keep signal feedthrough as low as possible amplifier,” Electronics, pp. 103–107, June 5, 1972.
(Q Q5, etc.]. The other transistor type has a double base [61 L. Nagel and R. Rohrer, “Computer analysis of nonlinear
circuits, excluding radiation (CANCER) ,“ IEEE J. Solid-
stripe for the purpose of low circuit noise and distortion
State Circuits, vol. SC-6, pp. 166-182, Aug. 1971.
(~1, Q2, Q3, QG) . [71 E. M. Cherry and D. E. Hooper, ‘(The design of wide-band
The biasing scheme of the improved age amplifier has transistor feedback amplifiers,” Proc. Znst. Elec. Eng., vol.
110, pp. 375-389, Feb. 1963.
to ensure that the total quad current I~D, which is the
[81 F. S. Jenkins and S.-P. Fan, *’TIME—A nonlinear DC and
sum of the emitter currents of Qs, QA, Qb, and QG, is time-domain circuit-simulation program,” IEEE J. Solid-
stabilized with respect to transistor parameters. This State Circuits, vol. SC%, pp. 182-188, Aug. 1971.
[91 W. M. C. Sansen and R. G. Meyer, “Characterization and
must be achieved even when IEE is small compared with
measurement of the base and emitter resistances of bipolar
the total pair current Ip which flows throug,h Qls. Other- transistors,” IEEE J. Solid-8tate Circuits, vol. S(2-7, pp. 492-
wise, any inaccuracy in the determination of IP would 498, Dec. 1972.

cause considerable variation in the amplitude of current

IBE. Therefore, current IBn is sensed by diode-connected
transistor Q7, which drives Q~, QIZ, and finally Qls. This
feedback loop stabilizes I~H at a value which is deter-
mined by current IQ (Fig. 8) and the emitter resistor of
p-n-p transistor Q8. A shunt potentiometer across this re- ~ Willy M. C. Sansen ( S’66-M ’72) was born
k in Poperinge, Belgium, on May 16, 1943.
sistance thus allows variation of IEE. The feedback loop !. He received the engineers degree in elec-
must be decoupled at high frequencies, and this is tronics from the Katholieke Universiteit,
Leuven, Belgium, in 1967, and the Ph.D.
achieved by bypassing the base of Qa.
degree in electronics from the University of
h California, Berkeley, in 1972.
V. CONCLUSION In 1968 he was employed as an Assistant
at the Katholieke Universiteit. In 1971 he
The optimization over a wide bandwidth of the dy-
—.. - J was employed as a Teaching Fellow at the
namic range of integrated variable-gain amplifiers has University of California. In 1972 he was ap-
been approached by the investigation of three basic am- ~ointed bv the Belzian National Science Foundation (N .F.W.O.)
& a Res~arch Ass~ciate at the Laboratorium F~sica en Elek-
plifiers which consist of a. quadruple of transistors driven
tronica van de Halfgeleiders, Katholieke Universiteit. His inter-
by an input pair [1]–[3]. An analysis of noise and dis- ests are in device modeling and in distortion and noise limitations
tortion in these quads has shown that the agc ampli- in integrated circuits.
Dr. Sansen is a member of the Koninklijke Vlaamse Ingenieurs
fier [1] is most suitable for the realization of a high
Vereniging (K.V.I.V.) and Sigma Xi. In September 1969 he re-
dynamic range. ceived a CRB Fellowship from the Belgian American Educational
In order to achieve maximum dynamic range, the cur- Foundationj R.nd in 1970 a G.T.E. Fellowship.

rent level in the quadruple has to be sufficiently low so

that distortion and noise fall within the required limits.
However, to obtain low distortion over a wide bandwidth
in the input stage, the current in the input pair has to be
high. In the improved agc amplifier, a dc feedback loop
Robert G. Meyer (S’64–M’68) was born in
stabilizes the quad current at a much lower value than
Melbourne, Australia, on July 21, 1942. He
the pair current. Only in this way can the maximum received the B. E., M. Eng. Sci., a~d Ph.D.
dynamic range be reached for given transistor parameters. degrees in electrical engineering from the
University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Aus-
REFERENCES tralia, in 1963, 1965, and 1968, respectively.
In 1968 he was employed as an Assistant
[11 W. R. Davis and J. E. Solomon, “A high-performance mono- Lecturer in Electrical Engineering at the
lithic IF amplifier incorporating electronic gain control,” University of Melbourne. Since September
IEEE J. Solid-State Circuits, vol. SC-3, pp. 408-416, Dec. 1968 he has been with the Department of
1968. Electrical Engineering and Computer Sci.
[21 B. Gilbert, “A precise four-quadrant multiplier with subnano- ences, University of California, Berkeley, where he is now an
second response,” IEEE J. Solid-State Circuits, vol. SC-3, Associate Professor. His current research interests are in high-
pp. 365473, Dec. 1968. frequency distortion in amplifiers and noise performarice of inte-
[31 — “A new wide-band amplifier technique,” IEEE J. Solid. grated circuits. Since 1970 he has also been a consultant to
Stat; Circuits, vol. SC-3, pp. 353-365, Dec. 1968. Hewlett-Packard Corporation.
[41 W. M. C. Sansen and 1%. G. Meyer, “Distortion in bipolar Dr. Meyer is a member of Sigma Xi,

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