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# Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

## by Prof. Michael Tse

September 2004

Introduction
A convenient starting point is the common-emitter amplier. Our understanding of this amplier (up to EC1) is that it can provide a fair amount of voltage gain. We apply a small input at the base and we expect to get a pretty wide swing at the collector side. Thats amplication. But, so far, we have assumed that the signals are not of very high frequency such that the parasitic capacitances in the transistor do not have any signicant effects. Remember that the impedance of a capacitor is inversely proportional to wC. So, if C is very small, it is practically an opencircuit at moderately low frequency. But as soon as we increase the signal frequency, the capacitor becomes less and less like an open-circuit, and in fact its impedance begins to drop. Therefore, at high frequencies, we must take into account the presence of parasitic capacitances in order to get a fuller picture of the voltage gain.
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

VCC
RL input + VBE IC + output VCE

## Review of common-emitter conguration

Basic circuit: VCC
RB1 R
s

RL

IC + vCE + + ~

+ RB2 + vBE

+ ~

vo

vin

coupling capacitors (large enough so that they become shortcircuit at signal frequencies)
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers 3

## Review of common-emitter conguration

Small-signal model for low-frequency operation:
Rs

+ vin

RB1 ||RB2

+ ~ vbe

rp
gmvbe
~

ro

RL

+ vo

Small-signal parameters of BJT: transconductance ic/vbe current gain ic/ib input resistance of BJT vbe/ib output resistance of BJT
gm = q I Ic = c kT VT Ic at room temperature 25mV

gm V ro = A Ic
r =
This is not an ohmic resistor!

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## Review of common-emitter conguration

Small-signal model for low-frequency operation:
Rs

+ vin

RB1 ||RB2

+ ~ vBE

rp
gmvBE
~

ro

RL

+ vo

Parameters of CE amplier:

## v o RB1 || RB 2 Gain = = [ gm ( RL || ro )] gm RL v in ( RB1 || RB 2 ) + Rs

Input resistance = Rin = RB1 ||RB2 || r Output resistance = Ro = RL||ro
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

if Rs 0 and ro

## What happens when frequency increases?

Lets measure the current gain which is just |ic/ib|.
20log ic (dB) ib

o=gmr
0

## starts to drop at fp (pole) and falls to 1 at fT.

fz fp fT A zero is observed at fz.
f (in logscale)

i arg c (deg) ib

0 45o 90o 135o 180o C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

f (in logscale)

But this zero gives further negative phase shift instead of positive phase shift. In control theory, this kind of zero is called right-half-plane (RHP) zero.

Why?
Lets look at the circuit. We omit the biasing circuit, and focus on the short-circuit current gain.
+VCC

Ic ic ib Ib
VEE

Small-signal model:
ib + vbe

B
r C

ic

ro gmvbe

We insert a parasitic capacitor across each pair of terminals of the BJT. But since the output is shorted, we can omit the one across C and E in this case.

E
The current ic, from KCL, is Hence, we get

## Nodal equation of the B node:

v be v be v be + + ib = 0 r (1/ jC ) (1/ jC ) ib v be = 1 + j (C + C ) r

ic = gm v be v be jC = v be ( gm jC )

C 1 j ic gm = gm r ib 1+ j (C + C ) r
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## Current gain at high frequencies

From the above analysis, we see that the current gain has a pole and a RHP zero.
C 1 j ic gm ( j ) = = gm r ib 1+ j (C + C ) r

This is consistent with the frequency response of |ic/ib| we saw earlier. The pole frequency is
fp = 1 (in Hz) 2 (C + C ) r
gm (in Hz) 2C
gmr

fz =

## The low-frequency current gain is = gmr

fp
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

fz
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## Transition frequency (unity current gain frequency)

We can nd fT by setting |(j)| = 1.
C 1 jT gm 1 = gm r 1+ jT (C + C ) r C 2 2 1+ T gm 2 1 = ( gm r ) 2 2 2 1+ T (C + C ) r C 2 2 2 2 2 1+ T (C + C ) r2 = ( gm r ) + T gm

=
2 T

1 C 2 2 2 (C + C ) r g m

(gm r )

(C + C ) r2
2

( gm r )

gmr

gm (C + C )

or f T =

gm 2 ( C + C )

fp transition frequency
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

fT

fz
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## Principle of gain-bandwidth product

There is an interesting property about (j).
|(j)|
expressed in dB

bo b1

## Beyond the pole frequency, the product of b and bandwidth is constant.

A: B:

gm gm = o (C + C ) (C + C ) gm gm = 1 (C + C ) (C + C ) gm gm = 1(C + C ) (C + C )

B C

C:

gm o (C + C )

gm 1 (C + C )

gm 1(C + C )

||
2 fT The transition frequency fT is a very important parameter for studying the frequency response of a BJT amplier. It tells us how (and r) changes as frequency increases.

2 fT

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## How about MOSFET ?

Small-signal model:
ig + vgs

G
Cgs

Cgd

id

ro gmvgs

The main difference between MOSFET and BJT is that there is no r in the model of MOSFET or r = .

S
|(j)|

We can easily nd the transfer function of the current gain as: Cgd 1 j id gm ( j ) = = gm ig j (Cgs + Cgd )

slope = 20dB/dec

2 fT

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## Frequency response of CE amplier

We consider the CE amplier again, but this time, as a voltage amplier.

VCC
RB1 R
s

RL

Ic +

vo
RB2

vin

Recall that the voltage gain ay low frequencies is v o RB1 || RB 2 = [ gm ( RL || ro )] gm RL if Rs 0 and ro v in ( RB1 || RB 2 ) + Rs
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers 12

## Frequency response of CE amplier

Complete small-signal model:
Rs
+

B
+ vbe r C

C
Cce ro RL

vin

RB

gmvbe

E
p1 p2 z

Questions
How many poles? How many zeros? Where are the poles and zeros?

p1

Most important is the rst dominant pole p1 which limits the gain!
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

p2

?
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## What are poles and zeros? (Year 1 material)

Theory (if you still remember!)
On the complex number plane, a pole is the point where the output response is even when the input is nite. Also, a zero is the point where the output response is 0 even when the input is nite. All poles must be on LHS of the complex plane. Otherwise, the circuit is unstable. But zeros can be anywhere. For circuits with ONLY ONE type of reactive elements (capacitors only), all poles and zeros are real numbers. Thus, all poles are LHS real numbers. [Some textbooks use the term negative real poles instead of LHS real poles!]
imaginary (actually the realistic frequency axis)

o
z2

x
p2

x
p1
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

o
z1

real

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## What are poles and zeros? (Year 1 material)

In transfer function forms, we write

1+ F( j ) = Ao 1+
where Ao is the low-frequency gain.

j 1 z2 j 1+ p1

j z1 j p2

## imaginary (actually the realistic frequency axis)

o
z2

x
p2

x
p1
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

o
z1

real

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## What are poles and zeros? (Year 1 material)

In practice We look at the imaginary axis, which is actually the realistic frequency axis. A pole [or zero] becomes just a corner point on the realistic frequency axis where the response starts to fall [rise] at a rate of 20 dB/dec.
20 dB/dec

40 dB/dec

We know all poles are LHS poles, but zeros can be LHS or RHS. z2

z1 p1 p2
20 dB/dec

What is the difference between a RHS zero and a LHS zero? To see the difference, we have to look at the phase.

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## What are poles and zeros? (Year 1 material)

20 dB/dec

Phase shift
40 dB/dec

A LHS pole comes with negative phase shift. One LHS pole gives 90. p1 A LHS zero comes with positive phase shift. One LHS zero gives +90. A RHS zero comes with negative phase shift. One RHS zero gives 90.
0
90 180 270

z1 p2

z2
20 dB/dec

## NOTE: z1 is a RHP zero, and z2 is a LHP zero.

jw

o
z2

x
p2

x
p1
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

o
z1

real

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## Frequency response of CE amplier

Complete small-signal model:
Rs
+

B
+ vbe r C

C
Cce ro RL

vin

RB

gmvbe

E
For this circuit, there are two independent capacitors, hence the circuit is second order. Hence, there must be TWO LHS poles. Moreover, there is at least ONE zero due to C because gmvbe can pull all its current through C resulting in zero current owing to RL. Lets nd the frequency where this happens!

## The low-frequency gain:

j 1 v o RB1 || RB 2 z = [ gm ( RL || ro )] v in ( RB1 || RB 2 ) + Rs j j 1+ 1+ p1 p2
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers 18

## What is a pole? A very simple approach!

To nd the poles, we rst recall that the roll-off is typically a result of an equivalent low-pass RC lter. Req Ceq
1 Req Ceq
gain in dB

slope = 20 dB/dec

Basically, if we see a node along the signal path which has (i) a substantial resistance toward the input side; and (ii) a substantial capacitance to ground, then there will be a pole!

Req

Ceq

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## Finding poles of CE amplier

Complete small-signal model:
Rs
+

B
+ vbe r C

C
Cce ro RL

vin

RB

gmvbe

E
To nd the poles, we examine the two nodes B and C. Our aim is to nd the equivalent RC lters at B and C. First consider node B. We can assume that (before roll-off) the current source gmvbe ows in the output load RL // ro such that vCE = gm ( RL || ro )v be So, the voltage across the capacitor C is

v BC = v be [1+ gm ( RL || ro )]
C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers 20

Consider node B:
Rs
+

## Equivalent model at node B: B

+ vbe r
iC
iC C

Rs
+

B
+ vbe r C C[1+gm(RL||ro)]

vin

RB

vin

RB

E
Clearly, at node B, we can see that (i) (ii) capacitor C is pumping current equal to capacitor C is pumping current equal to

iC = jC v be [1+ gm ( RL || ro )] iC = jC v be
iC + iC = jC v be [1+ gm ( RL || ro )] + jC v be = j{C [1+ gm ( RL || ro )] + C }v be

## So, we can put one equivalent capacitor to node B:

Ceq = C [1+ gm ( RL || ro )] + C
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## First pole is due to Miller

Equivalent model for forward signal ow:
Rs
+

B
+ vbe r C

CM
C[1+gm(RL||ro)]

vin

RB

E
Observe that C has been EXPANDED by a factor of [1+gm(RL||ro)] which is just the dc gain.

## This is called Miller effect.

The expanded capacitor at node B to ground is called Miller capacitor: CM = C[1+gm(RL||ro)]

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## First pole of CE amplier

Equivalent model for forward signal ow:
Rs
+

B
+ vbe r C

CM
C[1+gm(RL||ro)]

vin

RB

E
A pole can be found from the equivalent low-pass lter at node B. This is the Miller effect pole. Clearly, the equivalent R and C are Ceq = C + CM = C + C[1+gm(RL||ro)] Req = Rs || RB || r This pole is
p1 = 1 1 = Ceq Req {C + C [1+ gm ( RL || ro )]}( Rs || RB || r )

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## Finding the second pole of CE amplier

Complete small-signal model:
Rs
+

## Equivalent model at node C: C

Cce ro RL gmvbe C

B
+ vbe r C

C
Cce ro RL

vin

RB

gmvbe

Next consider node C. We can assume that the signal at B looking from C is comparatively small and that node B is essentially grounded. Therefore, we can approximate that C goes to ground at C. Clearly, the combined capacitance to ground is C + Cce. Also, since the equivalent resistance is RL || ro, the pole is
p2 =

(C

+ Cce )( RL || ro )

## This is a normal LHP pole.

C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers 24

## Finding the zero of CE amplier

Complete small-signal model:
Rs
+

B
+ vbe r C

C
Cce ro RL

vin

RB

gmvbe

E
To nd the zero, we can simply try to nd the frequency (on complex plane) where the response is 0. This is quite easy! Almost by inspection, we have, when output is 0,

v bc = v be

gm v be = v be sC

s=

gm C

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## Complete transfer function of CE amplier

Equivalent model for forward signal ow:
Rs
+

B
+ vbe r C

CM
C[1+gm(RL||ro)] gmvbe C + Cce ro RL

vin

RB

E
The complete transfer function for the gain is note the -ve sign (its RHP)

j 1 v o RB1 || RB 2 z = [ gm ( RL || ro )] v in ( RB1 || RB 2 ) + Rs j j 1+ 1+ p1 p2
p1 = 1 1 = Ceq Req {C + C [1+ gm ( RL || ro )]}( Rs || RB || r )
p2 =

(C

+ Cce )( RL || ro )

z=

gm C
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## Complete frequency response of CE amplier

Gain in dB

z p1 p2

90 180 270 C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers 27

## Locations of poles and the RHP zero

gm (mS) 10
0.1

p1

p2 z

pole splitting

1M

10M

100M

Cgd (pF)
100 10 1 0.1 1M 10M 100M

p1

These are not Bode plots! They actually show the positions of the poles and the RHP zero for different values of gm and Cgd. Note the pole splitting when gm is greater than a certain value. This actually improves the stability, as we will see when we discuss feedback later.

p2

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## Miller effect gives the dominant pole

The rst pole (dominant pole) denes the roll-off frequency and limits the bandwidth of the amplier. The main cause, as we have seen, is Miller effect! In general, we can extend Miller effect to any situation where a capacitor appears across the input and output nodes of an amplier.
C

vi

(1+A)C

vo = Avi

## C.K. Tse: Frequency Response of Transistor Ampliers

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Discussion
Is there any way to beat Miller? Direction 1: kill C A capacitor ying over a signal input and a swinging amplied output. We can kill Miller if we can either stop the input or the output from moving! The question is how to do it, with the signal amplication still maintained. Direction 2: kill R How about Rs, which is clearly an evil that causes the roll off? Can we make it as small as possible? What kind of amplier should be used to buffer the input so that Rs can be smaller? The process for making Miller disappear is called broadbanding an amplier. I will tell you more about beating Miller in the nal-year elective High Frequency Circuit Design.

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