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Differential Amplifiers

Aim of this chapter: To discuss the basic operation, transfer

characteristics, advantages, disadvantages and applications associated
with differential amplifiers
Differential Amplifier (DA) pair is a fundamental sub-circuit
used in the input stage of every operational amplifiers
Most widely used building blocks in analog IC design
Well suited for IC fabrication: Because
1) Capable of providing matched devices
2) IC technology provides the availability of large number transistors at relatively
low cost
3) DAs have the advantages over single stage amplifiers:
1. Less sensitive to noise
2. Can be connected to other stages without the need of large
bypass or coupling capacitors. DA enables to bias the
amplifier- easy coupling
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BJT Differential Pair

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BJT differential-pair configuration which
consists of 2 matched transistors Q1 and Q2
biased by a current source (I)
Collector resistors are used to make sure, that,
transistors never enters saturation
Differential Pair: Use as differential amplifier
(for very small differential input), that has the
ability to amplify wanted signals, while
rejecting unwanted signals.
DP only works as an amplifier for small values
of VD=(VB1- VB2)
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Different modes of operation of the BJT
differential pair
Case-1: The 2 bases are joined together and connected to a
common-mode voltage
The differential pair with a common-mode input signal vCM

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Case-2: The VB1 = 1 and VB2 = 0, The differential pair with a
large differential input signal
With this differential input, Q1 is ON and Q2 is turned OFF

VB1 = 1 VB2 = 0

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Case-3: The VB1 = -1V and VB2 = 0, The differential pair
with a large differential input signal of polarity opposite to
that in Case-2
With this differential input, Q1 is OFF and Q2 is turned ON

Current steering property of

DP allows to use it in logic

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Case-4: As a linear amplifier: The differential pair
with a small differential input signal vi

A small differential input

(a few millivolts), which
results in one transistor
conducting a current of
(I/2+I) and the other
transistor having a
current of (I/2- I).
Output voltage
between the 2
vo = 2 IRC
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Large-Signal Operation of the BJT Differential
Voltage at common emitter by VE, the exponential relationship applied to each
of the two transistors, as
iC I s evBE /VT
iE iC /
From Fig., iE1 + iE2 = I
So we can rewritten
expressions as

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vid=(vB1- vB2)

Collector currents are obtained by multiplying Eq1 and Eq2 by

Fundamental operation of the differential amplifier is illustrated by
Eq 1 and 2
Note that the amplifier responds to the difference voltage vid
Also relatively small voltage difference vid , will cause the current
I to flow almost entirely in one direction. Note that a voltage
difference of 4VT (100 mV) is enough to switch the current from
one side to another. Thus the BJT differential amplifier can be
used as a fast switch
To remain in the linear region for small signal analysis the
difference input is limited to 2VT = 50 mV

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Transfer function characteristics of the BJT differential pair, assuming = 1

vid=(vB1- vB2)

Different Voltage of about 4VT (100 mV) is sufficient to switch the current almost
entirely to one side of the pair, allowing it to be used as fast current switch

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Small Signal Operation

Currents and Voltages in DA, when a small differential input signal vid is applied
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Collector Currents when differential voltage is applied
From EQ1 and EQ2, collector currents can be expressed as

Or by multiplying the numerator and denominator by gives

Assuming that Vid << VT , we can then expand the exponential as

And so retain only the first 2 terms:

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Similarly we can get for ic2

Points to note:
When Vid=0 , the bias current I divides equally between the 2 transistors.
When a small signal is applied at Vid , ic1 increases by an increment ic and ic2
decreases by an increment ic, where the increment ic is given by:

..(Eq 3)


Vid/2 of (Eq3) imply that the Vid voltage applied is

divided equally between the 2 transistors due to
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Voltage Vid , appears across a total resistance of 2re, where emitter resistance is defined

And Small signal current ie and ic

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If the emitter has resistance Re then we can write expression for ie and ic

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Input Differential Resistance AC
ib e id
v / 2re vc1 (VCC RC I C ) g m RC
1 1 2
( 1)2re vc 2 (VCC RC I C ) g m RC
ib 2
Same we can get for circuit with emitter resistor Re

Rid ( 1)(2re 2Re )

Differential Voltage Gain Using these expressions

If the output is taken differentially (between the 2 collectors), then the small signal (ac
signal) differential gain will be

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If the output is measured at one end say between the collector of Q1 and ground

For the differential amplifier with resistances the differential gain (between the 2
collectors) is

See previous

By definition: Voltage gain is equal to the ratio of the total

resistance in the collector circuit (2RC) to the total resistance
in the emitter circuit (2re+2RE)

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Ex-1 For the ideal differential amplifier shown in Fig. 1, find a
a. DC output voltages Vc1 and Vc2
b. Single-ended output gain Vc1/(Vi1 Vi2), and
c. Double-ended gain (Vc1 Vc2)/(Vi1 Vi2) [Differential gain]

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Equivalence of the Differential Amplifier to a CE Amplifier
Results are similar to the common-emitter CE, amplifier

signal in a
Due to

1. From symmetry, voltage at common emitter = 0

No effect of finite output resistance of current source!

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If input is applied to one of the terminal: DA fed in a single-
ended fashion

In this case, emitter voltage is not zero, so the resistance REE will have effect on
If REE large , say REE >> re , Vid will still divide equally between the two junctions!
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vc2 = - vc1, the 2 transistors yield similar results, thus only side one is needed to
analyze the differential small-signal operation of the differential amplifier.
Differential half-circuit, low frequency equivalent model:

r = VT/IB

(a) The differential half-circuit and (b) its equivalent circuit model.

The model parameters r , gm and r0 are evaluated at the biased current I/2.
The differential voltage gain (between the 2 collectors) of the half circuit is

Input differential resistance of the differential amplifier is twice that of the half-
circuit that is 2 r

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Common-Mode Gain and CMRR
In Figure, a differential amplifier with common-mode voltage vicm
From the symmetry of the circuit, Equivalent half-circuits for common-mode
calculations is

Common-mode half-circuits

From (b), Q1 and Q2 are biased at I/2 and have a resistance 2REE
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The common-mode output voltage is

If the output in taken differentially, then the output common-mode voltage

v0 = vc1 vc2 = 0.so common mode gain = 0
If voltage is measure at one end only, the common mode gain is
..(Eq. A)

Differential gain at one end is Ad ,1 g m RC ; and so the common-mode rejection
ratio (CMRR) is

The above analysis assumes that the circuit is perfectly matched. In practice
circuits are not perfectly symmetrical, with the result that the common-mode gain
will not be zero even if the output is taken differentially!
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Let us see the this point in detail. Let the circuit is perfect symmetrical except for a
mismatch RC (i.e. let the resistance at Q1 be RC and the resistance at Q2 be (RC +
RC )
The voltages at the collector are:

Thus the output voltage across two collector nodes

The common mode gain due to the mismatch will be :

The common mode gain due to the mismatch is much smaller than (Eq. A). So,
the input differential stage of an op amp is always a balanced one, with the
output taken differentially.
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Note: The op-amp will have a low common-mode gain or
equivalently, a high CMRR
The output voltage can be expressed as

Common mode component

v1 v2
Differential component
vd v1 v2

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Input Common-Mode Resistance


Definition of the input common-mode The equivalent common mode half-circuit.

resistance Ricm

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Input common-mode resistance is usually very large, its value
will be affected by the transistor resistances r and r0.
Since the common-mode gain is usually small, the signal at the
collector will be very small (OUTPUT), so we can assume the
signal at collector = 0V , ground!
Under this assumption the input resistance can be found by

2 Ricm r || [( 1)(2 REE )] || [( 1)r0 ]

r r0
Ricm || [( 1) REE ] || ( 1)
2 2

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With assumption 2REE r the final expression for common-mode
input resistance is

2 Ricm ( 1)(2 REE || r0 )

Ricm ( 1) REE || 0

Since REE is typically of the order of r0, Ricm will be very large

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Design example 2:

Design a BJT differential amplifier to amplify a differential

input signal of 0.1V and provide a differential output signal of
2V. To ensure adequate linearity, it is required to limit the
signal amplitude across each base-emitter junction to a
maximum of 5mV. Another design requirement is that the
differential input resistance (Rid) be at least 80k. Use BJTs
with specified >=200.

Give the circuit configuration and specify the values of all its

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Textbook Example 8.1

Evaluate the following:

a. The input differential resistance.
b. The overall differential voltage gain vo/vsig
(neglect the effect of ro).
c. The worst-case common-mode gain if the
two collector resistance are accurate within
d. The CMRR, in dB.
e. The input common-mode resistance
(suppose the Early voltage is 100V).

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Example 4
For Give circuit below, take =200 and take effect of base current in
Calculate bias source current I and the output voltage Vout when
Vin1=Vin2=0. Repeat same for the case Vin1=Vin2=-2V.
When Vin1=Vin2=0,
VE = -0.7V
So, I = (10-0.7)/20K = 0.465 mA
No differential output and
Ic1 = Ic2 =I/2 = 0.231 mA (=?)
Vout = 10 0.231*20 = 5.37V

Vin1=Vin2 = -2V
VE = -2.7V
I = (10-2.7)/20K = 0.365 mA
Ic1 = Ic2 =I/2 = 0.182 mA

Vout = 10 0.182*20 = 6.37V

Practice example 5
Given DA in Figure (Next slide), all four transistors
are matched. Take =200
a. Choose the value of R to give a source current
I = 0.5 mA. Next, take this value of R, what is
the output voltage of the circuit when Vin1=Vin2
and all transistors are active?

b. Show that, 10
Vout ( 40Vid )
;Vid Vin1 Vin 2
1 e

c. By evaluating d(Vout)/dVid at Vid=0, determine

differential gain of the ampr. Also calculate
input resistance.
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Cont. example 4

VB 3 9.3V
for I 0.5 mA,
0 VB 3
so, R 18.6 k
Now Vin1 Vin 2
I c1 I c 2 I / 2 0.25 mA
Vout 10 I c 2 * 20 K 5V
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Next let us prove that
Cont. example 4
Vout ( 40Vid )
;Vid Vin1 Vin 2
1 e
From large signal eqns. for Q1 and Q2 are (Refer PPT Notes):

Vin1 VE IRc
I c1 I s exp Vout Vcc I c 2 Rc Vcc
.....a Vid

VT 1 e VT

Vin 2 VE now,Vcc 10, IRc 10V

I c 2 I s exp .....b
10 1
By taking (a)/(b) gives Vout Vid

V 1 e VT
I c1 / I c 2 exp id
VT Take VT V
now, I I c1 I c 2 ....gives 40

I c 2 [1 e VT
] I e VT
Vout 10 Vid
Guess! How to get
final answer
1 e 38
C. By evaluating d(Vout)/dVid at Vid=0, determine differential gain
of the ampr. Also calculate input resistance.
Cont. example 4
d (Vout ) 10 40Vid
* 40e
dVid 1 e 40Vid


At ,Vid 0,
Av 100
Differential Input resistance is

Rid 2( 1)(re ) 2(201)(25mV / 0.25mA)

Rid 40 K

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Example 6
For a differential amplifier to which a total difference signal of 10
mV is applied, what is the equivalent signal to its corresponding
CE half-circuit? If the emitter current source is 100 A, what is re
of the half-circuit? For a load resistance of 10k in each collector,
what is the half-circuit gain? What magnitude of signal output
voltage would you expect at each collector?

re = VT/ (0.5*I) = 500

Half circuit gain = Rc / re = 10k/500 =20 V/V

At one collector we expect a signal of (+100 mv) and at the

other a signal of (-100 mv) for differential signal = 10 mV
[Each input Vin1 = 5 mV, so (5 * 20) = 100 mV]

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