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# Course 2

Filters
What is a filter?

It is sometimes desirable to have circuits capable of
selectively filtering one frequency or range of frequencies
out of a mix of different frequencies in a circuit.

A circuit designed to perform this frequency selection is
called a filter circuit, or simply a filter.

Filters are essential to the operation of most electronic
circuits.

It is therefore in the interest of anyone involved in
electronic circuit design to have the ability to develop
filter circuits capable of meeting a given set of
specifications.

This course is intended to serve as a very basic
introduction to some of the fundamental concepts
and
terms associated with filters.

Filters and Signals: What Does a Filter Do?

In circuit theory, a filter is an electrical network that
alters the amplitude and/or phase characteristics of a
signal with respect to frequency.
Ideally, a filter will not add new frequencies to the
input signal, nor will it change the component
frequencies of that signal, but it will change the
relative amplitudes of the various frequency
components and/or their phase relationships.

Filters are often used in electronic systems to
emphasize signals in certain frequency ranges and
reject signals in other frequency ranges. Such a filter
has a gain which is dependent on signal frequency. As
an example, consider a situation where a useful signal
at frequency f1 has been contaminated with an
unwanted signal at f2. If the contaminated signal is
passed through a circuit (Figure 1) that has very low
gain at f2 compared to f1, the undesired signal can be
removed, and the useful signal will remain.
Note that in the case of this simple example, we are
not concerned with the gain of the filter at any
frequency other than f1 and f2.
As long as f2 is sufficiently attenuated relative to f1,
the performance of this filter will be satisfactory.

In general, however, a filter's gain may be specified at
several different frequencies, or over a band of
frequencies.

Since filters are defined by their frequency-domain
effects on signals, it makes sense that the most useful
analytical and graphical descriptions of filters also fall
into the frequency domain. Thus, curves of gain vs
frequency and phase vs frequency are commonly
used to illustrate filter characteristics,and the most
widely-used mathematical tools are based in the
frequency domain.

The frequency-domain behavior of a filter is described
mathematically in terms of its transfer function or
network function. This is the ratio of the output and
input signals.

) (
) (
) (
e
e
e
j V
j V
j H
IN
OUT
=
The transfer function defines the filter's response to
any arbitrary input signal, but we are most often
concerned with its effect on continuous sine waves.
Especially important is the magnitude of the transfer
function as a function of frequency, which indicates
the effect of the filter on the amplitudes of sinusoidal
signals at various frequencies.
Knowing the transfer function magnitude (or gain) at
each frequency allows us to determine how well the
filter can distinguish between signals at different
frequencies.

The transfer function magnitude versus frequency is
called the amplitude response or sometimes,
especially in audio applications, the frequency
response.
Similarly, the phase response of the filter gives the
amount of phase shift introduced in sinusoidal signals
as a function of frequency. Since a change in phase
of a signal also represents a change in time, the
phase characteristics of a filter become especially
important when dealing with complex signals where
the time relationships between signal components at
different frequencies are critical.

The magnitude and the phase of the transfer function are:
) (
) (
) (
e
e
e
j V
j V
j H
IN
OUT
=
) (
) (
arg ) ( arg
e
e
e
j V
j V
j H
IN
OUT
=
With respect of passed frequency in the filter, we have four
categories of filters:
Low-pass filter allow pass of low frequencies and reject
high frequencies

High-pass filter - allow pass of high frequencies and reject
low frequencies

Band-pass filter - allow pass a band of frequencies and
reject all others frequencies

Notch or band-reject filter - reject a band of frequencies and
allow to pass all others frequencies

H
f fo
1
0
H
f fo
0
1
H
f f1 f2
0
1
H
f f1 f2
0
1
Defining the Cutoff Frequency, wc (fH)
The definition for cutoff frequency is the frequency for
which the transfer function magnitude is decreased by
the factor 1 / 2 from its maximum value.

Where Hmax is the maximum magnitude of the transfer
function. Because 1 / 2 = 0.707 , we can say cutoff
frequency is the frequency for which the transfer function
magnitude is decreased by 70% of its maximum value.
Because 20Log(1 / 2) = -3dB , again we can say cutoff
frequency is the frequency for which the transfer function
magnitude is decreased by 3dB of its maximum value.

The study of frequency response of RC circuits is based on
the Bode diagrams. This method consists in study of
magnitude and phase variation, as a functions of frequency.
As a result, we have two diagrams:
Magnitude-frequency diagram
Phase-frequency diagram

Bode diagrams use logarithmic units.

Advantages:
Logarithmic function transform the multiplying operation in
add operation (much simple on graphics)
The nonlinear function can be asymptotic approximated
with linear segments
Using logarithms allow visualization for a large interval or
frequency
Low-pass filters
By definition, a low-pass filter is a circuit offering easy
passage to low-frequency signals and difficult passage to
high-frequency signals. There are two basic kinds of
circuits capable of accomplishing this objective, and many
variations of each one:

U2 U1
2
C1
3
R1
4
1
The capacitor's impedance decreases with increasing
frequency. This low impedance in parallel with the load
resistance tends to short out high-frequency signals,
dropping most of the voltage gets across series resistor R
1
.

The transfer function:
= = =
C j
C j
R
C j
U
U
=
=
=
+
=
+
=
1
1
1
1
1
2
RC x e =
2
1
2
1
1
x
jx
U
U
+

=
For a complex number
jb a y + =
-Magnitude
-phase
2 2
b a y + =
( )
a
b
arctg y phase =
2
1
2
1
1
x
U
U
+
=
) ( x arctg phase =
All low-pass filters are rated at a certain cutoff frequency.
That is, the frequency above which the output voltage falls
below 70.7% of the input voltage. This cutoff percentage of
70.7 is not really arbitrary, all though it may seem so at first
glance. In a simple capacitive/resistive low-pass filter, it is
the frequency at which capacitive reactance in ohms equals
resistance in ohms. In a simple capacitive low-pass filter
(one resistor, one capacitor), the cutoff frequency is given
as:

RC
f
o
t 2
1
=
For x = 1 (f = f
o
) we have:
dB
U
U
3 lg 20
1
2
=
4
t
=
o
In band pass, for x << 1, we have:
1
1
2

U
U
0
In band rejected, for x >> 1, we have:
0
1
2

U
U
2
t

REVIEW:
A low-pass filter allows for easy passage of low-
frequency signals from source to load, and difficult
passage of high-frequency signals.
Capacitive low-pass filters insert a resistor in series and a
capacitor in parallel with the load. The former filter design
tries to "block" the unwanted frequency signal while the
latter tries to short it out.
The cutoff frequency for a low-pass filter is that frequency
at which the output (load) voltage equals 70.7% of the
input (source) voltage. Above the cutoff frequency, the
output voltage is lower than 70.7% of the input, and visa-
versa.

High-pass filters
A high-pass filter's task is just the opposite of a low-pass
filter: to offer easy passage of a high-frequency signal and
difficult passage to a low-frequency signal. As one might
expect, the high-pass filter are just the opposite of their
respective low-pass filter designs:
U1
4
2
R1
3
1
C1
U2
The transfer function:
jx
jx
RC j
RC j
jwC
R
R
U
U
+
=
+
=
+
=
1 1
1
1
2
e
e
x = eRC
magnitude
phase
2
1
2
1 x
x
U
U
+
=
x
arctg
1
=
The cutoff frequency:
RC
f
o
t 2
1
=
: si

dB
U
U
3 lg 20
1
2
=
4
t
=
o
: si

dB
U
U
3 lg 20
1
2
=
4
t
=
o
For x = 1 (f = f
o
) we have: dB
U
U
3 lg 20
1
2
=
4
t
=
o
In band pass, for x >> 1, we have:
1
1
2

U
U
0
In band rejected, for x << 1, we have:
0
1
2

U
U
2
t

REVIEW:

A high-pass filter allows for easy passage of high-
frequency signals from source to load, and difficult
passage of low-frequency signals.
Capacitive high-pass filters insert a capacitor in series
with the load. The former filter design tries to "block" the
unwanted frequency signal while the latter tries to short it
out.
The cutoff frequency for a high-pass filter is that
frequency at which the output (load) voltage equals
70.7% of the input (source) voltage. Above the cutoff
frequency, the output voltage is greater than 70.7% of the
input, and visa-versa.
Band-pass filters (Wien Bridge)
There are applications where a particular band, or spread, or
frequencies need to be filtered from a wider range of mixed
signals. Filter circuits can be designed to accomplish this
task by combining the properties of low-pass and high-pass
into a single filter. The result is called a band-pass filter.
Creating a band-pass filter from a low-pass and high-pass
filter can be illustrated using block diagrams:

What emerges from the series combination of these two
filter circuits is a circuit that will only allow passage of those
frequencies that are neither too high nor too low. Using real
components, here is what a typical schematic might look
like:
R1
4
1
3
R2
2
U1
C2
U2
C1
1
1 1
1
1 1
1 1
C j
C R j
C j
R Z
=
=
=
+
= + =
2 2
2
2
1 C R j
R
Z
e +
=
For R
1
=R
2
= R si C
1
=C
2
= C :
C j
RC j
Z
=
= +
=
1
1
RC j
R
Z
= +
=
1
2
The transfer function:
( ) RC j RC j
RC j
RC j
R
C j
RC j
RC j
R
Z U
U
e e
e
e e
e
e
+ +
=
+
+
+
+
=
+
=
2
2 1
2
1
2
1
1
1
1
Z
Z
RC x e =
( )
( )
( )
2
2
2
2 2
2 2
1
2
9 1
1 3
3 1
1
x x
x jx x
jx x
jx
jx jx
jx
U
U
+
+
=
+
=
+ +
=
magnitude
phase
2 2 2
1
2
9 ) 1 ( x x
x
U
U
+
=
)
3
1
(
2
x
x
arctg

=
The resonant frequency
At the resonant frequency, the reactive component of the
transfer function must be zero (the circuit behavior is
resistive) .
0 1
2
= x
RC
f
o
t 2
1
=
For x=1
3
1
1
2
=
U
U
0
0
=
For x->0 0
1
2

U
U
2
t

For x-> 0
1
2

U
U
2
t

Band-pass = band of 3dB attenuation
L H dB
f f B =
3
fH and fL are the cutoff frequencies, where the module of
transfer function is with 3dB lower (or 2 times lower) than
the maximum value
2 3
1
2
3
1
1
2
= =
U
U
1 = tg
1 = tg
1
3
1
2
=

x
x
0 >
L
x
2
13 3 +
=
L
x
Determining the Bandwidth

1 = tg 1
3
1
2
=

x
x
0 >
H
x
2
13 3 +
=
H
x
3
3
= = =
o
dB
o
L
o
H
L H
f
B
f
f
f
f
x x
o dB
f B 3
3
=
Determining the Quality Factor (Q):
It is defined as the ratio of the center frequency to
bandwidth: Q=fo/B3dB
3
1
= Q
Notch or Band-reject Filter (Wien-Robinson
bridge)
A filter with effectively the opposite function of the
band-pass is the band-reject or notch filter. Notch
filters are used to remove an unwanted frequency
from a signal, while affecting all other frequencies as
little as possible.

R
0
0
2R1
U4
U1
U3
C
0
0 0 0
C
U2
R R1
2 4 3
U U U =
3
1
4
U
U =
1
2
1
3
3
1
U
U
U
U
=
jx jx
jx
U
U
+ +
=
2
1
2
) 1 (
jx jx
jx
U
U
+ +
=
2
1
3
) 1 ( 3
1
2 2 2
2
1
3
9 ) 1 ( 3
1
x x
x
U
U
+

=
1
3
2

=
x
x
arctg
RC
1
0
= e
RC
f
t 2
1
0
=
For x=1
0
1
3
=
U
U
For x->1, x<1
2
0
t
=
For x->1, x>1
2
0
t
+ =
=> Phase shift with t.
For x<<1
3
1
1
3
=
U
U
0
0

For x>>1
3
1
1
3
=
U
U
0
0

The filters used for the earlier examples were all made
up of passive components: resistors, capacitors, so they
are referred to as passive filters.
A passive filter is simply a filter that uses no amplifying
elements (transistors, operational amplifiers, etc.).

In this respect, it is the simplest (in terms of the number
of necessary components) implementation of a given
transfer function. Passive filters have other advantages
as well.

Because they have no active components, passive
filters require no power supplies.
Since they are not restricted by the bandwidth
limitations of op amps, they can work well at very high
frequencies. They can be used in applications involving
larger current or voltage levels than can be handled by
active devices.

Passive filters also generate little noise when compared
with circuits using active gain elements. The noise that
they produce is simply the thermal noise from the
resistive components, and, with careful design, the
amplitude of this noise can be very low.
Passive filters have some important disadvantages in
certain applications, however. Since they use no active
elements, they cannot provide signal gain. Input
impedances can be lower than desirable, and output
impedances can be higher the optimum for some
applications, so buffer amplifiers may be needed.
Active Filters
Active filters use amplifying elements, especially op
amps, with resistors and capacitors in their feedback
loops, to synthesize the desired filter characteristics.
Active filters can have high input impedance, low
output impedance, and virtually any arbitrary gain.
They are also usually easier to design than passive
filters.

Performance at high frequencies is limited by the gain-
bandwidth product of the amplifying elements, but
within the amplifier's operating frequency range, the op
amp-based active filter can achieve very good
accuracy, provided that low-tolerance resistors and
capacitors are used.

Active filters will generate noise due to the amplifying
circuitry, but this can be minimized by the use of low-
noise amplifiers and careful circuit design.