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Current and Voltage


Amplifiers
I’lladmit
Q: I’ll
Q: admittotobeing
being dog-gone
dog-gone confused.
confused.
You say
You say that
that every
every amplifier
amplifier can can bebe
describedequally
described equally well
wellininterms
termsof ofeither
eitherits
its
open-circuit voltage
open-circuit voltage gain
gain AAvo, , or
or its
its short-
short-
vo
circuit current
circuit current gain
gain AAis. . Yet,
Yet, amps
amps II have
have
is
seen are
seen are denoted
denoted specifically
specifically as
as either
either aa
dad-gum current
dad-gum current amplifier
amplifier oror aa gul-darn
gul-darn
voltageamplifier.
voltage amplifier.

Arevoltage
Are voltageand
andcurrent
currentamplifiers
amplifiersseparate
separate
devices,and
devices, andififso,
so,what
whatare
arethe
thedifferences
differences
betweenthem?
between them?

A: Any amplifier can be used as either a current amp or as a


voltage amp. However, we will find that an amp that works well
as one does not generally work well as the other! Hence, we can
in general classify amps as either voltage amps or current amps.

To see the difference we first need to provide some definitions.


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First, consider the following circuit:

iin ( t ) io (t)
Rs
+
+
+ vin ( t )
vs (t ) -
RL vout ( t )
-
-

Isn’tthat
Q:Isn’t
Q: thatjust
justAAvo??
??
We define a voltage gain Av as: vo

vout ( t )
Av B
vs ( t )

A: NO! Notice that the output of the amplifier is not open


circuited. Likewise, the source voltage vs is not generally equal
to the input voltage vin.

We must use a circuit model to determine voltage gain Av .


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Although we can use either model, we will find it easier to


analyze the voltage gain if we use the model with the dependent
voltage source:

Rs
iin ( t ) Rout io (t)

+ +
+ +
vs ( t ) -
vin ( t ) Rin
- Avo vin RL
vout ( t )
-
-

Analyzing the input section of this circuit, we find:

� R �
vin = � in � vs
R
�s + Rin � ??
??
and analyzing the output:

� RL �
vout = �
�R + R
A v

�vo in
� out L �

combining the two expressions we get:

� RL � � Rin �
vout =�
�R + R
A

�vo � vs

� out L � R
�s + Rin �

and therefore the voltage gain Av is:

vout ( t ) � R � � Rin �
Av B =� L A
� � �
vs ( t ) �R + R
� out L
�vo
� R
�s + Rin �
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Note in the above expression that the first and third product
terms are limited:

� R � � R �
0 �� L ��1 and 0 �� in ��1
�R + R �
� out L � �Rs + Rin �

We find that each of these terms will approach their maximum


value (i.e., one) when:

Rout = RL and Rin ? Rs

Thus, if the input resistance is very large (>>Rs) and the output
resistance is very small (<<RL), the voltage gain for this circuit
will be maximized and have a value approximately equal to the
open-circuit voltage gain!

vo �Avo vs iff Rout = RL and Rin ? Rs

Thus, we can infer three characteristics of a good voltage


amplifier:

1.Very large input resistance ( Rin ? Rs ).

2. Very small output resistance ( Rout = RL ).

3. Large open-circuit voltage gain ( Avo ? 1 ).

Now let’s consider a second circuit:


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iin ( t ) iout ( t )
+ +
is ( t ) Rs vin ( t ) vout ( t )
RL
- -

We define current gain Ai as:

iout ( t )
Ai B
is ( t )

Note that this gain is not equal to the short-circuit current


gain Ais. This current gain Ai depends on the source and load
resistances, as well as the amplifier parameters.

Therefore, we must use a circuit model to determine current


gain Ai .
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Although we can use either model, we will find it easier to


analyze the current gain if we use the model with the dependent
current source:
iin ( t ) iout ( t )
+
is ( t ) Rs vin ( t ) Rin Rout RL
Ais iin
-

Analyzing the input section, we can use current division to


determine:
� R �
iin = � s �is
�Rs + Rin �

We likewise can use current division to analyze the output


section:
� Rout �
iout = �
�R + R �
A i
� is in
� out L �

Combining these results, we find that:

� Rout � � Rs �
iout =�
�R + R
A

�is � �is
� out L � R
�s + Rin �

and therefore the current gain Ai is:

io ( t ) � R � � Rs �
Ai B = � out A
� � �
is ( t ) ��Rout + RL
�is
� �Rs + Rin �
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Note in the above expression that the first and third product
terms are limited:

� R � � R �
0 �� out ��1 and 0 �� s ��1
�R + R �
� out L � �Rs + Rin �

We find that each of these terms will approach their maximum


value (i.e., one) when:

Rout ? RL and Rin = Rs

Thus, if the input resistance is very small (<<Rs) and the output
resistance is very large (>>RL), the voltage gain for this circuit
will be maximized and have a value approximately equal to the
short-circuit current gain!

iout �Ais is iff Rout ? RL and Rin = Rs

Thus, we can infer three characteristics of a good current


amplifier:

1. Very small input resistance ( Ri = Rs ).

2. Very large output resistance ( Ro ? RL ).

3. Large short-circuit current gain ( Ais ? 1 ).


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Note the ideal resistances are opposite to those of the


ideal voltage amplifier!

It’sactually
It’s actuallyquite
quitesimple.
simple. An
Anamplifier
amplifierwith
withlow
low
inputresistance
input resistanceandandhigh
highoutput
outputresistance
resistancewill
will
typically provide
typically providegreat
greatcurrent
currentgain
gainbut
butlousy
lousy
voltagegain.
voltage gain.

Conversely,an
Conversely, anamplifier
amplifierwith
withhigh
highinput
input
resistanceand
resistance andlow
lowoutput
outputresistance
resistancewill
will
typicallymake
typically makeaagreat
greatvoltage
voltageamplifier
amplifierbut
butaa
dog-gonepoor
dog-gone poorcurrent
currentamp.
amp.