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EEE3033 Flipped Class Notes and Guidance – Week 8

In the last flipped class you learned about transistor amplifiers and how to bias them as well as learning about a bias curve and how RF oscillates around the quiescent point. You will find this kind of amplifier is known as a class A amplifier and in this session you are going to learn about class B and class C amplifiers which have a different bias point and amplify in a different way. Furthermore you will learn about how to calculate the amplifier gain of an ideal transistor, while also it will show consideration with regard to reducing the noise in a low noise amplifier.

Task 1 – Revision of the Quiescent Voltage and Current From the work you carried out in the previous class, you should be able to refer to Figure 1 below and understand everything illustrated on it. Note for yourself that you remember the following:

1. That the DC biasing resistors and DC voltage source are set such that the voltage across the collector to the emitter, v ceQ , is halfway between the knee voltage and the maximum possible voltage, equal to the DC supply voltage.

2. That the base current is set to achieve a bias collector current, i cQ , which is half of the maximum collector current.

3. That when RF current is applied to the input, the collector current oscillates up and down the load line where Q is the midpoint. This is a current with a gain and so when it flows through the load impedance as shown in Figure 2 (a), it will result in a voltage gain.

i c RF Load Line Q i cQ v ce v v k ce,Q V
i
c
RF Load Line
Q
i
cQ
v
ce
v
v k
ce,Q
V cc

i b

Figure 1 - Illustration of the bias curves for the bipolar junction transistor showing the quiescent point

Task 2 – Calculating the voltage gain of an ideal transistor Referring back to Figure 2 (a), a Thevenin RF equivalent circuit of the transistor amplifier can be created as shown in Figure 2 (b). There are three things to consider here:

1) The transistor is modelled as an ideal current source, which has an infinite input impedance and from the base to emitter there is a small representative resistance, r π . 2) Also in the equivalent circuit, every component that has no RF current going through it is removed and likewise the DC source is consequently also removed. 3) Any component that has RF flowing through it but no DC becomes a short circuit as it has no effect as far as RF is concerned.

You should carefully examine Figure 2 and satisfy yourself that the only remaining two components in the circuit are the load impedance and the base to emitter resistance as shown.

V cc

v o R 1 v in Z L R 2 Ce Re
v
o
R
1
v
in
Z
L
R
2
Ce
Re

(a)

=

v o

βi in v i in in r π
βi in
v
i
in
in
r
π

(b)

Z L

Figure 2 - Thevenin equivalent of the BJT transistor amplifier circuit at RF

Note in Figure 2 (b) that the ideal current source causes the output RF current, i o to flow directly though the load impedance and this will cause an output voltage v o = -i o Z L will be output, which will be a negative current if applied to a load impedance Z L . The input impedance, Z in , can be determined as the ratio of input voltage v in to input current i in .

Taking this ideal amplifier case, you should therefore be able to deduce the following equation for the voltage gain:

Gain = −β

Z

L

Z

in

Satisfy yourself also that the decibel representation is:

Gain (dB) = 20 log

10

βZ

L

- 20 log

10

Z

in

For a lower input impedance equivalent to r π in this case, the output impedance can be simply increased as high as possible and theoretically the gain will increase in turn until the amplifier reaches saturation. However, a real transistor has stray capacitances as illustrated in Figure 3.

has stray capacitances as illustrated in Figure 3. Figure 3 - Illustration of Transistor with Stray

Figure 3 - Illustration of Transistor with Stray Capacitances

See for yourself that when this is modelled into the equivalent AC circuit model that the ideal voltage gain derived before will not hold and if anything it will reduce. Also note that at both the

input and output, the amplifier would need to be matched to the usual transmission line impedance, Z 0 , of 50. Impedance matching is performed at both the input and output of the amplifier by use of matching circuits using L-networks, which you have already covered elsewhere in the module. Note that when the input impedance is optimised, it will impact the output impedance and in vice versa – they both have a dependency on each other and the gain has a dependency on both. This is something you will learn about and encounter in the laboratory class.

Task 3 - Classes of amplifier Amplifiers have a number of classes, some of which will be considered here. The first is that of class A illustrated in Figure 4 (a), which is the same setup as the amplifier studied already. The bias is set to the middle of the RF load line as in Figure 1 and the signal is amplified well due to the high current gain. However, as soon as the peak voltage touches the knee voltage, or the peak current reaches the maximum at the top of the load line, then it has reached saturation and thus a class A amplifier is limited in this regard. A class B amplifier therefore helps to increase this peak current and hence form a higher peak voltage on the load impedance.

The resulting amplification from class B is illustrated in Figure 4 (b). The amplifier is now set to only amplify the positive part of the incoming RF signal and stay zero when a negative signal is going through the input. Obviously this only recovers and amplifies half of the carrier, though for some digital communication systems this may not be an issue. It is still, however, possible to apply amplification to both the positive and negative part using a push pull amplifier in Figure 4 (d). In this case the two sides of the signal are amplified.

Finally a hybrid of class A and B can be formed known as a class AB in Figure 4 (c). This aims to take the benefits of both class A and B amplifiers.

(a)
(a)

(b)

(c) (d)
(c)
(d)

Figure 4 - Illustration of (a) Class A amplifier, (b) Class B amplifier, (c) Class AB amplifier, (d) push pull class B amplifier

Finally a class C amplifier is shown in Figure 5. Here it is noted that the half sine wave is part of a Fourier series of harmonics. In this case the band pass filter (BPF) can simply filter out the fundamental, which will be still significantly amplified. Obviously there will be some deliberate loss due to the fact that non fundamental frequencies will be filtered out.

BPF
BPF

Figure 5 - Illustration of a class C amplifier

Task 4 – Biasing of a Class B/C amplifier

For the part of a class B amplifier that amplifies the positive part of a sine wave, it is now necessary to see an animation and compare how it works in relation to a class A amplifier. You should therefore go to the supporting video for this task available in the same directory on

SurreyLearn as these notes. You may wish to watch the video more than once in order to absorb the information properly.

Now you have seen this video see for yourself why:

1) Biasing of a class B amplifier follows the same procedure as for class A, the only difference now is that the quiescent current is about one tenth of i c|max rather than one half. This will subsequently result in different resistor values for the same supply voltage. 2) Class A amplifiers have a better linearity than class B amplifiers. 3) How does current flow in a class B amplifier when not in use compared to a class A? Therefore why is class B more efficient?

Task 5 – Oscillations in a class B amplifier (negative part) For the negative part of the class B amplifier, oscillations are shown the video in this task for completeness. You should see that essentially everything is inverted so you are aware of how the negative part of an oscillation is amplified.

Task 6 – Summary of advantages and disadvantages of amplifier classes The advantages and disadvantages are summarised between these three amplifier classes in Table 1. It should be possible for you to determine how the linearity and maximum output are different from earlier tasks. Efficiency in comparing class B to C is also resultant of the fact that only one amplifier rather than two is required in the class C case, though obviously this is at the expense of a further reduction in linearity.

Property

Class A

Class B (push pull)

Class C

Linearity

High

Low

Reduced further

 

Max output

Low

High

Limited by filter

 

Efficiency

Low, < 50%

High < 78%

Higher < 100%

 

Reliability

Many heatsinks required with space to accommodate if used for long periods

Can handle higher power output levels, though physical structure becomes large and complex.

Little

or no heatsink

needed,

useful

when

amplifier

has

a

long

“idle time”

Table 1 – Summary of the properties of class A, B and C amplifiers

Task 6 – More practical implementation of a low noise amplifier Figure 6 shows a more practical implementation of a low noise amplifier. The fundamental difference is that the two RF choke inductors are removed by the two bias resistors R 1 and R 2 . This is more desirable since soldering of unnecessary components is not a good idea in RF circuits. Therefore why can we avoid needing to use these chokes? Go back to the biasing for obtaining a base voltage V b . Satisfy yourself that ultimately it does not matter what values of R 1 and R 2 are used as long as they have the right ratio.

Now think given that we do not want RF current to flow down these two resistors should their resistance be high or low? Justify your answer.

V cc

R 1 v o v in Z L R 2 Ce Re
R
1
v
o
v
in
Z
L
R
2
Ce
Re

Figure 6 - Illustration of a more practical implementation of a low noise amplifier

Task 7 – Noise in the amplifier Now assuming that negligible current flows through the two resistors R 1 and R 2 you should find that at RF the majority of the current flows within the resistance r π in the RF circuit equivalent model. Think what happens in this resistance and how a resistive component can create noise for a signal with a given bandwidth?

Therefore can it be ever possible to generate no noise at all if this resistance is present? What will happen to the noise when it is representing extra “noise current” in the base to emitter? What will it do to the collector current?

Task 8 – Introduction to the noise figure From the analysis in task 7, you should find that any amplifier will not only amplify noise going into the amplifier, which will happen due to laws of physics, but it will also add more noise at the output. This means that where a signal is amplified at the same time as its noise, the signal to noise ratio at the input will always be greater than the signal to noise ratio at the output. To represent this any amplifier has what is known as a noise factor. The noise factor is defined as follows:

F=

S in N in S out N out
S in
N in
S out
N out

Therefore satisfy yourself that it is always the case F > 1 based on the rules established above. Obviously we don’t want to add noise at the receiver so we want to keep F as near to 1 as possible. This noise factor is also expressed as noise figure when converted to decibel terms. Note that the noise factor is a power ratio, or a ratio of power ratios to be more precise, but this nonetheless means that the following holds:

Noise Figure = 10log

10 F

More will be studied regarding the noise factor and figure in the next class. It is just important for now to understand its meaning. It should be noted though that when F is referred to as the noise figure, it is the noise factor in decibels.

Task 9 – Noise circles and noise optimisation Consider a circuit that has been impedance matched with L-networks such as in Figure 7. Note the regulator capacitor was removed for clarity. It is possible that a simulator can perform an analysis of many different matching solutions for these two networks and determine what are known as gain circles and noise circles in a Smith chart. You will see this in the laboratory class when you undertake the task.

v in

V cc

R 1 v o Z L R 2 Ce Re
R
1
v
o
Z
L
R
2
Ce
Re

Figure 7 - Illustration of a low noise amplifier circuit with L-network matching circuits

Figure 8 gives an example of noise circles and gain circles. The noise circles join up all points on the Smith chart where the input impedance may be different (as the corresponding s 11 is likewise in different points on the chart) but on the circle, the noise figure is the same. The bigger circles have bigger noise figures, but the noise figure is minimum at F min in the smallest circle in the middle with zero radius. It is desirable that the smallest noise circle is nearest the centre point of the Smith chart, as ideally we want to be matched as best as possible but at the same time maintain low noise figure. However, in this case it does show that the noise figure is minimum when the circuit is not quite matched slightly to the right of the centre. This would still provide an acceptable match but at the same time noise is reduced as best as possible due to the resistive part formed in the input circuit.

Gain Circle G max Noise Circle F min
Gain Circle
G max
Noise Circle
F min

Figure 8 - Illustration of noise circles and gain circles

Also in Figure 8 is shown some gain circles. Here the central zero radius circle has the maximum gain and is marked by G max . It is a slight distance away from F min in but think: What if the input impedance was optimised to be at the same point as G max – would this be the best position if you were not bothered about having an exceptionally low noise figure? Also think about what would

happen if G max and F min were near to each other but further away from the centre of a Smith chart – would this be a bad design? Finally what about if they are very far apart from each other, would that be a viable design? Think why and give yourself some reasoning.

Tim Brown November 2016