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Field effect circuits are used in many different areas of electronics.

FET circuits are able to provide


characteristics that are not possible when using the more traditional bipolar transistors.
Accordingly FET circuit design techniques are often used in overall circuit design.
With the number of different types of FET, there are several differ types of FET circuit that can be used
both as discrete circuits and within integrated circuits as well.

FET circuit technology
When considering the use of a FET circuit, it is necessary to consider FET technology and the type of field
effect transistor will be the most applicable.

Note on Field Effect Transistor Technology:
There are several different types of FET ranging from the Junction FET (JFET) through the Metal Oxide
Silicon FET or MOSFET through to more exotic variants including V-FETs and more. All these different
types of FET are based around the same basic technology where an electric field alters the flow of current
through a semiconductor channel.
Click on the link for further information about the Field Effect Transistor, FET
The FET has three electrodes:
Source: The Source, S is the electrode on the FET through which the majority carriers enter the
channel, i.e. at acts as the source of carriers for the device. Current entering the channel through
the source is designated by IS
Drain: The Drain, D is the FET electrode through which the majority carriers leave the channel,
i.e. they are drained from the channel. Conventional current entering the channel at D is designated
by the letters ID. Also Drain to Source voltage is often designated by the letters VDS
Gate: The Gate G), is the terminal that controls the channel conductivity. By applying voltage to
G, one can control ID

Circuit symbols for the basic JFET components

FET types for circuit design
As there are several different types of field effect transistor that can be used, it is necessary to define at least
some of the FETs that can be used within the circuit design process.
The table below defines some of the different types and characteristics that can be encountered.


FETS FOR USE IN CIRCUIT DESIGN
CHARACTERISTIC DETAILS
J-FET The J-FET or junction FET is a form of FET
where the gate is formed by using a diode junction
onto the channel. The isolation is maintained by
ensuring that the diode junction remains reverse
biased when operated within the circuit. IT is a
key requirement of the FET circuit design to
ensure the junction remains reverse biased for
satisfactory operation.
MOSFET This type of field effect transistor relies on a metal
oxide later between the gate and channel. It offers
a very high input resistance.
Dual-gate MOSFET As the name implies, this form of MOSFET has
two gates. In FET circuit design, this gives
additional options.
Enhancement mode Enhancement mode FETs are OFF at zero gate-
source voltage. They are turned on by pulling the
gate voltage in the direction of the drain voltage,
i.e. towards the supply rail, which is positive for
N-channel devices and negative for P-channel
devices. In other words by pulling the gate voltage
towards the drain voltage, the number of carriers
in the active layer of the channel is enhanced.
Depletion mode In a depletion-mode MOSFET, the device is
normally ON at zero gate-source voltage. Any
gate voltage in the direction of the drain voltage
will tend to deplete the active area of channel of
carriers and reduce the current flowing.
N-channel An N channel FET has a channel made from N-
type semiconductor in which the majority carriers
are electrons.
P-channel An P channel FET has a channel made from P-
type semiconductor in which the majority carriers
are holes.
When designing an FET circuit, one of the first steps is to determine what type of FET will be suitable for
the application required. Channel type, mode type and the basic type of FET will all need to be determined
to enable the FET circuit design to proceed.

FET Circuit Configurations
In just the same way that transistor (and also vacuum tube or valve circuits have various circuit
configurations, so do field effect transistors.
These FET circuit configurations operate in slightly different ways giving different levels of impedance
and gain.
Choosing the correct FET circuit configuration is one of the first steps in the design of any FET circuit.


FET configuration basics
The terminology used for denoting the three basic FET configurations indicates the FET electrode that is
common to both input and output circuits. This gives rise to the three terms: common gate, common drain
and common source.
The three different transistor configurations are:
Common gate: This transistor configuration provides a low input impedance while offering a high
output impedance. Although the voltage is high, the current gain is low and the overall power gain
is also low when compared to the other FET circuit configurations available. The other salient
feature of this configuration is that the input and output are in phase.



Common gate FET circuit configuration


Ream more about the Common gate amplifier.
Common drain: This FET configuration is also known as the source follower. The reason for this
is that the source voltage follows that of the gate. Offering a high input impedance and a low output
impedance it is widely used as a buffer. The voltage gain is unity, although current gain is high.
The input and output signals are in phase.



Common drain / source follower FET circuit configuration


Ream more about the Common drain, source follower amplifier.
Common source: This FET configuration is probably the most widely used. The common source
circuit provides a medium input and output impedance levels. Both current and voltage gain can be
described as medium, but the output is the inverse of the input, i.e. 180 phase change. This
provides a good overall performance and as such it is often thought of as the most widely used
configuration.



Common source FET circuit configuration
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Ream more about the Common source amplifier.


FET circuit configuration summary table
The table below gives a summary of the major properties of the different FET circuit configurations.


FET
CONFIGURATION
SUMMARY TABLE

FET
CONFIGURATION
COMMON GATE COMMON DRAIN
(SOURCE
FOLLOWER)
COMMON SOURCE
Voltage gain High Low Medium
Current gain Low High Medium
Power gain Low Medium High
Input / output phase
relationship
0 0 180
Input resistance Low High Medium
Output resistance High Low Medium


FET Common Source Amplifier Circuit
Common source FET configuration is probably the most widely used of all the FET circuit configurations.
Like its bipolar counterpart the common emitter circuit, the FET common source amplifier provides a good
level of all round performance for many applications.
The common source circuit provides a medium input and output impedance levels. Both current and voltage
gain can be described as medium, but the output is the inverse of the input, i.e. 180 phase change. This
provides a good overall performance and as such it is often thought of as the most widely used
configuration.

Basic diagram of the common source FET amplifier circuit


Common source FET amplifier characteristics summary
The table below gives a summary of the major characteristics of the common source amplifier.


COMMON SOURCE AMPLIFIER
CHARACTERISTICS

PARAMETER AMPLIFIER CHARACTERISTICS
Voltage gain Medium
Current gain Medium
Power gain High
Input / output phase relationship 180
Input resistance Medium**
Output resistance Medium
** Note: the input resistance for a FET itself is very high in view of the fact that it takes virtually no current.

FET Common Drain / Source Follower
Common drain or source follower is an excellent FET circuit.
The like the transistor emitter follower, the source follower configuration itself provides a high level of
buffering and a high input impedance. The actual input resistance of the FET itself is very high as it is a
field effect device. This means that the source follower circuit is able to provide excellent performance as
a buffer.
The voltage gain is unity, although current gain is high. The input and output signals are in phase.

Diagram of the common drain / source follower FET buffer


Source follower amplifier characteristics summary
The table below gives a summary of the major characteristics of the source follower amplifier.


COMMON DRAIN, SOURCE FOLLOWER FET
AMPLIFIER CHARACTERISTICS

PARAMETER AMPLIFIER CHARACTERISTICS
Voltage gain Zero
Current gain High
Power gain Medium
Input / output phase relationship 0
Input resistance Very High
Output resistance Low

FET Common Gate Amplifier Circuit
Common gate FET configuration provides a low input impedance while offering a high output impedance.
Although the voltage gain is high, the current gain is low and the overall power gain is also low when
compared to the other FET circuit configurations available.
The other salient feature of this configuration is that the input and output are in phase.

Common gate FET amplifier circuit
The circuit is not as widely sued as other FET configurations, but it is used where a low input is needed to
provide a good match. Some examples of instances where the common gate amplifier may be used are for
low impedance microphone preamplifiers and for VHF / UHF RF amplifiers.


Common gate amplifier characteristics summary
The table below gives a summary of the major characteristics of the common gate amplifier circuit.


COMMON GATE TRANSISTOR AMPLIFIER
CHARACTERISTICS

PARAMETER CHARACTERISTICS
Voltage gain High
Current gain Low
Power gain Low
Input / output phase relationship 0
Input resistance Low
Output resistance High