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Analog Circuit Design: A Tutorial Guide to Applications and Solutions
Analog Circuit Design: A Tutorial Guide to Applications and Solutions
Analog Circuit Design: A Tutorial Guide to Applications and Solutions
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Analog Circuit Design: A Tutorial Guide to Applications and Solutions

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Analog circuit and system design today is more essential than ever before. With the growth of digital systems, wireless communications, complex industrial and automotive systems, designers are challenged to develop sophisticated analog solutions. This comprehensive source book of circuit design solutions will aid systems designers with elegant and practical design techniques that focus on common circuit design challenges. The book’s in-depth application examples provide insight into circuit design and application solutions that you can apply in today’s demanding designs.

  • Covers the fundamentals of linear/analog circuit and system design to guide engineers with their design challenges
  • Based on the Application Notes of Linear Technology, the foremost designer of high performance analog products, readers will gain practical insights into design techniques and practice
  • Broad range of topics, including power management tutorials, switching regulator design, linear regulator design, data conversion, signal conditioning, and high frequency/RF design
  • Contributors include the leading lights in analog design, Robert Dobkin, Jim Williams and Carl Nelson, among others
Release dateSep 26, 2011
Analog Circuit Design: A Tutorial Guide to Applications and Solutions
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    Analog Circuit Design - Elsevier Science

    Table of Contents

    Cover image

    Title page




    Publisher’s Note




    Why write applications?


    Part 1: Power Management

    Section 1. Power Management Tutorials

    1. Ceramic input capacitors can cause overvoltage transients

    Plug in the wall adapter at your own risk

    Building the Test Circuit

    Turning on the switch

    Testing a portable application

    Input voltage transients with different input elements

    Optimizing Input Capacitors


    2. Minimizing switching regulator residue in linear regulator outputs: Banishing those accursed spikes



    3. Power conditioning for notebook and palmtop systems


    Battery charging

    Power supplies for palmtop computers

    4. 2-Wire virtual remote sensing for voltage regulators: Clairvoyance marries remote sensing


    Virtual remote sensing


    VRS linear regulators

    VRS equipped switching regulators

    VRS based isolated switching supplies

    VRS halogen lamp drive circuit


    Section 2. Switching Regulator Design

    5. LT1070 design manual



    LT1070 operation

    Pin functions

    Basic switching regulator topologies

    Application circuits

    Negative buck converter

    Negative-to-positive buck-boost converter

    Positive buck converter

    Flyback converter

    Totally isolated converter

    Positive current-boosted buck converter

    Negative current-boosted buck converter

    Negative input/negative output flyback converter

    Positive-to-negative flyback converter

    Voltage-boosted boost converter

    Negative boost converter

    Positive-to-negative buck boost converter

    Current-boosted boost converter

    Forward converter

    Frequency compensation

    External current limiting

    Driving external transistors

    Output rectifying diode

    Input filters

    Efficiency calculations

    Output filters

    Input and output capacitors

    Inductor and transformer basics

    Heat sinking information

    Troubleshooting hints


    Subharmonic oscillations

    Inductor/transformer manufacturers

    Core manufacturers


    6. Switching regulators for poets: A gentle guide for the trepidatious

    Basic flyback regulator

    −48V to 5V telecom flyback regulator

    Fully-isolated telecom flyback regulator

    100W off-line switching regulator

    Switch-controlled motor speed controller

    Switch-controlled peltier 0°C reference


    7. Step-down switching regulators

    Basic step down circuit

    Practical step-down switching regulator

    Dual output step-down regulator

    Negative output regulators

    Current-boosted step-down regulator

    Post regulation-fixed case

    Post regulation-variable case

    Low quiescent current regulators

    Wide range, high power, high voltage regulator

    Regulated sinewave output DC/AC converter


    8. A monolithic switching regulator with 100μV output noise: Silence is the perfectest herald of joy ...



    9. Powering complex FPGA-based systems using highly integrated DC/DC μModule regulator systems: Part 1 of 2 Circuit and electrical performance

    Innovation in DC/DC design

    DC/DC μModule Regulators: Complete Systems in an LGA Package

    48A from four parallel DC/DC μModule regulators

    Start-up, soft-start and current sharing


    10. Powering complex FPGA-based systems using highly integrated DC/DC µModule regulator systems: Part 2 of 2 Thermal performance and layout

    60W by paralleling four DC/DC μModule regulators

    Thermal performance

    Simple copy and paste layout


    11. Diode turn-on time induced failures in switching regulators: Never Has so Much Trouble Been Had By so Many with so Few Terminals


    Diode turn-on time perspectives

    Detailed measurement scheme

    Diode Testing and Interpreting Results


    Section 3. Linear Regulator Design

    12. Performance verification of low noise, low dropout regulators: Silence of the amps


    Noise and noise testing

    Noise testing considerations

    Instrumentation performance verification

    Regulator noise measurement

    Bypass capacitor (CBYP) influence

    Interpreting comparative results


    Section 4. High Voltage and High Current Applications

    13. Parasitic capacitance effects in step-up transformer design

    14. High efficiency, high density, PolyPhase converters for high current applications


    How do PolyPhase techniques affect circuit performance?

    Design considerations

    Design example: 100A PolyPhase power supply


    Section 5. Powering Lasers and Illumination Devices

    15. Ultracompact LCD backlight inverters: A svelte beast cuts high voltage down to size



    16. A thermoelectric cooler temperature controller for fiber optic lasers: Climatic pampering for temperamental lasers


    Temperature Controller Requirements

    Temperature Controller Details

    Thermal Loop Considerations

    Temperature Control Loop Optimization

    Temperature Stability Verification

    Reflected Noise Performance


    17. Current sources for fiber optic lasers: A compendium of pleasant current events



    18. Bias voltage and current sense circuits for avalanche photodiodes: Feeding and reading the APD




    Section 6. Automotive and Industrial Power Design

    19. Developments in battery stack voltage measurement: A simple solution to a not so simple problem

    The battery stack problem

    Transformer based sampling voltmeter

    Detailed circuit operation

    Multi-cell version

    Automatic control and calibration

    Firmware description

    Measurement details

    Adding more channels


    Part 2: Data conversion, signal conditioning and high frequency/RF

    Section 1. Data Conversion

    20. Some techniques for direct digitization of transducer outputs

    21. The care and feeding of high performance ADCs: get all the bits you paid for


    An ADC has many inputs

    Ground planes and grounding

    Supply bypassing

    Reference bypassing

    Driving the analog input

    Choosing an op amp

    Driving the convert-start input

    Routing the data outputs


    22. A standards lab grade 20-bit DAC with 0.1ppm/°C drift: The dedicated art of digitizing one part per million



    23. Delta sigma ADC bridge measurement techniques


    Low cost, precision altimeter uses direct digitization

    How Many Bits?

    Increasing Resolution with Amplifiers

    How Much Gain?

    ADC Response to Amplifier Noise

    How Many Bits?

    Faster or More Resolution with the LTC2440

    How Many Bits?

    24. 1ppm settling time measurement for a monolithic 18-bit DAC: When does the last angel stop dancing on a speeding pinhead?


    DAC settling time

    Considerations for measuring DAC settling time

    Sampling based high resolution DAC settling time measurement

    Developing a sampling switch

    Electronic switch equivalents

    Transconductance amplifier based switch equivalent

    DAC settling time measurement method

    Detailed settling time circuitry

    Settling time circuit performance

    Using the sampling-based settling time circuit


    Section 2. Signal Conditioning

    25. Applications for a switched-capacitor instrumentation building block

    Instrumentation amplifier

    Ultrahigh performance instrumentation amplifier

    Lock-in amplifier

    Wide range, digitally controlled, variable gain amplifier

    Precision, linearized platinum RTD signal conditioner

    Relative humidity sensor signal conditioner

    LVDT signal conditioner

    Charge pump F→V and V→F converters

    12-bit A→D converter

    Miscellaneous circuits

    Voltage-controlled current source—grounded source and load

    Current sensing in supply rails

    0.01% analog multiplier

    Inverting a reference

    Low power, 5 V driven, temperature compensated crystal oscillator

    Simple thermometer

    High current, inductorless, switching regulator

    26. Application considerations and circuits for a new chopper-stabilized op amp


    Standard grade variable voltage reference

    Ultra-precision instrumentation amplifier

    High performance isolation amplifier

    Stabilized, low input capacitance buffer (FET probe)

    Chopper-stabilized comparator

    Stabilized data converter

    Wide range V→F converter

    1Hz to 30MHz V→F converter

    16-bit A/D converter

    Simple remote thermometer

    Output stages


    27. Designing linear circuits for 5V single supply operation

    Linearized RTD signal conditioner

    Linearized output methane detector

    Cold junction compensated thermocouple signal conditioner

    5V powered precision instrumentation amplifier

    5V powered strain gauge signal conditioner

    Tachless motor speed controller

    4-20mA current loop transmitter

    Fully isolated limit comparator

    Fully isolated 10-bit A/D converter

    28. Application considerations for an instrumentation lowpass filter


    Tuning the LTC1062

    LTC1062 clock requirements

    Internal oscillator

    Clock feedthrough

    Single 5V supply operation

    Dynamic range and signal/noise ratio

    Step response and burst response

    LTC1062 shows little aliasing

    Cascading the LTC1062

    Using the LTC1062 to create a notch

    Comments on capacitor types

    Clock circuits


    29. Micropower circuits for signal conditioning

    Platinum RTD signal conditioner

    Thermocouple signal conditioner

    Sampled strain gauge signal conditioner

    Strobed operation strain gauge bridge signal conditioner

    Thermistor signal conditioner for current loop application

    Microampere drain wall thermostat

    Freezer alarm

    12-Bit A/D converter

    10-Bit, 100μA A/D converter

    20μs sample-hold

    10kHz voltage-to-frequency converter

    1MHz voltage-to-frequency converter

    Switching regulator

    Post regulated micropower switching regulator

    30. Thermocouple measurement


    Thermocouples in perspective

    Signal conditioning issues

    Cold junction compensation

    Amplifier selection

    Additional circuit considerations

    Differential thermocouple amplifiers

    Isolated thermocouple amplifiers

    Digital output thermocouple isolator

    Linearization techniques


    31. Take the mystery out of the switched-capacitor filter: The system designer’s filter compendium


    Circuit board layout considerations

    Power supplies

    Input considerations

    Filter response

    Filter sensitivity

    Output considerations

    Clock circuitry



    32. Bridge circuits: Marrying gain and balance

    Resistance bridges

    Bridge output amplifiers

    DC bridge circuit applications

    Common mode suppression techniques

    Single supply common mode suppression circuits

    Switched-capacitor based instrumentation amplifiers

    Optically coupled switched-capacitor instrumentation amplifier

    Platinum RTD resistance bridge circuits

    Digitally corrected platinum resistance bridge

    Thermistor bridge

    Low power bridge circuits

    Strobed power bridge drive

    Sampled output bridge signal conditioner

    Continuous output sampled bridge signal conditioner

    High resolution continuous output sampled bridge signal conditioner

    AC driven bridge/synchronous demodulator

    AC driven bridge for level transduction

    Time domain bridge

    Bridge oscillator—square wave output

    Quartz stabilized bridge oscillator

    Sine wave output quartz stabilized bridge oscillator

    Wien bridge-based oscillators

    Diode bridge-based 2.5MHz precision rectifier/AC voltmeter


    33. High speed amplifier techniques: A designer’s companion for wideband circuitry



    Perspectives on high speed design

    Mr. Murphy’s gallery of high speed amplifier problems

    Tutorial section

    Applications Section I — Amplifiers

    Applications Section II — Oscillators

    Applications section III — Data conversion



    34. A seven-nanosecond comparator for single supply operation: Guidance for putting civilized speed to work


    The LT1394 — an overview

    Tutorial section



    35. Understanding and applying voltage references

    Essential features

    Reference pitfalls

    Reference applications


    For further reading

    36. Instrumentation applications for a monolithic oscillator: A clock for all reasons



    37. Slew rate verification for wideband amplifiers: The taming of the slew



    38. Instrumentation circuitry using RMS-to-DC converters: RMS converters rectify average results



    39. 775 nanovolt noise measurement for a low noise voltage reference: Quantifying silence


    Noise measurement

    Noise measurement circuit performance


    Section 3. High Frequency/RF Design

    40. LT5528 WCDMA ACPR, AltCPR and noise measurements


    41. Measuring phase and delay errors accurately in I/Q modulators



    Applying the method


    Subject Index


    Newnes is an imprint of Elsevier

    The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford OX5 1GB, UK

    225 Wyman Street, Waltham, MA 02451, USA

    First edition 2011

    Copyright © 2011, Linear Technology Corporation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

    See separate Publisher’s Note for copyright details of Trade Marks used in this book

    The right of Linear Technology Corporation to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

    No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher

    Permissions may be sought directly from Elsevier’s Science & Technology Rights

    Department in Oxford, UK: phone (+44) (0) 1865 843830; fax (+44) (0) 1865 853333; email: permissions@elsevier.com. Alternatively you can submit your request online by visiting the Elsevier web site at http://elsevier.com/locate/permissions, and selecting Obtaining permission to use Elsevier material


    No responsibility is assumed by the publisher or authors/contributors for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of products liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions or ideas contained in the material herein. Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, in particular, independent verification of diagnoses and drug dosages should be made

    British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

    A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    A catalog record for this book is availabe from the Library of Congress

    ISBN: 978-0-12-385185-7

    For information on all Newnes publications

    visit our web site at books.elsevier.com

    Printed and bound in The United States of America

    11 12 13 14 15 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


    For Jerrold R. Zacharias, who gave me the sun, the moon and the stars.

    For Siu, who is the sun, the moon and the stars.


    In memory of Jim Williams, a poet who wrote in electronics.

    Publisher’s Note

    This book was compiled from Linear Technology Corporation’s original Application Notes.

    These Application Notes have been re-named as chapters for the purpose of this book. However, throughout the text there is a lot of cross referencing to different Application Notes, not all of which have made it into the book. For reference, this conversion table has been included; it shows the book chapter numbers and the original Application Note numbers.


    These Trademarks all belong to Linear Technology Corporation. They have been listed here to avoid endless repetition within the text. Trademark acknowledgment and protection applies regardless. Please forgive us if we have missed any.

    Linear Express, Linear Technology, LT, LTC, LTM, Burst Mode, FilterCAD, LTspice, OPTI-LOOP, Over-The-Top, PolyPhase, SwitcherCAD, TimerBlox, μModule and the Linear logo are registered trademarks of Linear Technology Corporation. Adaptive Power, Bat-Track, BodeCAD, C-Load, Direct Flux Limit, DirectSense, Easy Drive, FilterView, Hot Swap, LinearView, LTBiCMOS, LTCMOS, LTPoE++, LTpowerCAD, LTpowerPlanner, LTpowerPlay, MicropowerSwitcherCAD, Multimode Dimming, No Latency ΔΣ, No Latency Delta-Sigma, No RSENSE

    Operational Filter, PanelProtect, PLLWizard, PowerPath, PowerSOT, PScope, QuikEval, RH DICE Inside, RH MILDICE Inside, SafeSlot, SmartStart, SNEAK-A-BIT, SoftSpan, Stage Shedding, Super Burst, ThinSOT, Triple Mode, True Color PWM, UltraFast, Virtual Remote Sense, Virtual Remote Sensing, VLDO and VRS are trademarks of Linear Technology Corporation. Allother trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


    Spanning three decades of analog technology, this volume represents the hard work of many individuals—too many to name. The lion’s share of the credit goes to Linear’s dedicated engineer/authors, whose work fills these pages. Jim Williams and Bob Dobkin have given generously of their time and support. I would be remiss not to also acknowledge the contributions of our dedicated publications team of Susan Cooper and Gary Alexander, who put in the extra hours to get the Application Notes ready for publication. Finally, a word of thanks to our publisher, Jonathan Simpson, who helped pave the road from idea to book, Naomi Robertson and Pauline Wilkinson, who smoothed the book’s production.

    John Hamburger

    Linear Technology Corporation


    Why write applications?

    This is seemingly an odd and unlikely way to begin an applications publication, but it is a valid question. As such, the components of the decision to produce this book are worth reviewing.

    Producing analog application material requires an intensive, extended effort. Development costs for worthwhile material are extraordinarily high, absorbing substantial amounts of engineering time and money. Further, these same resources could be directed towards product development, the contribution of which is much more easily measured at the corporate coffers.

    A commitment to a concerted applications effort must be made despite these concerns. Specifically, the nature of analog circuit design is so diverse, the devices so sophisticated, and user requirements so demanding that designers require (or at least welcome) assistance. Ultimately, the use of analog ICs is tied to the user’s ability to solve the problems confronting them. Anything that enhances this ability, in both specific and general cases, obviously benefits all concerned.

    This is a very simple but powerful argument, and is the basis of any commitment to applications. Additional benefits include occasional new product concepts and a way to test products under real world conditions, but the basic justification is as described.

    Traditionally, application work has involved reviewing considerations for successful use of a specific product. Additionally, basic circuit suggestions or concepts are sometimes offered. Although this approach is useful and necessary, some expansion is possible. The applications selected for inclusion in this book are centered on detailed, systems-oriented circuits, (hopefully) similar to users’ actual designs. There is broad tutorial content, reflected in the form of frequent text digressions and liberal use of graphics. Discussions of trade-offs, options and techniques are emphasized, as opposed to brief descriptions of circuit operation. Many of the application notes include appended sections which examine related or pertinent topics in detail. Ideally, this treatment provides enough background to allow readers to modify the circuits presented into solutions to their specific problems.

    Some comment about the circuit examples is appropriate. They range from relatively simple to quite complex and sophisticated. Emphasis is on high performance, in keeping with the capabilities of contemporary products and users’ needs. The circuit’s primary function is to serve as a catalyst once the reader has started thinking, the material has accomplished its mission.

    Substantial effort has been expended in working out and documenting these circuits, but they are not necessarily finessed to the highest possible degree. All of the circuits have been breadboarded and bench-tested at the prototype level. Specifications and performance levels quoted in the text represent measured and extrapolated data derived from the breadboard prototype. The volume of material generated prohibits formal worst-case review or tolerance analysis for production.

    The content in this volume, while substantial, represents only a portion of the available material. The resultant winnowing process was attended by tears and tantrums. The topics presented are survivors of a selection process involving a number of disparate considerations. These include reader interest, suitability for publication, time and space constraints and lasting tutorial value. Additionally, a minimum 10 year useful lifetime for application notes is desired. This generally precludes narrowly focused efforts. Topics are broad, with a tutorial and design emphasis that (ideally) reflects the reader’s long term interest. While the circuits presented utilize existing products, they must be conceptually applicable to succeeding generations of devices. In this regard, it is significant that some of the material presented is still in high demand years after initial publication.

    The material should represent a relatively complete and interdisciplinary approach to solving the problem at hand. Solving a problem is usually the reader’s overwhelming motivation. The selection and integration of tools and methods towards this end is the priority. For this reason the examples and accompanying text are as complete and practical as possible. This may necessitate effort in areas where we have no direct stake, e.g., the software presented in Chapter 22 or the magnetics developed for Chapters 6 and 7.

    Quality, in particular good quality, is obviously desirable in any publication. A high quality application note requires attentive circuit design, thorough laboratory technique, and completeness in its description. Text and figures should be thoughtfully organized and presented, visually pleasing, and easy to read. The artwork and printing should maintain this care in the form of clean text appearance and easily readable graphics.

    Application notes should also be efficient. An efficiently written note permits the reader to access desired information quickly, and in readily understandable form. There should be enough depth to satisfy intellectual rigor, but the reader should not need an academic bathyscaphe to get to the bottom of things. Above all, the purpose is to communicate useful information clearly and quickly.

    Finally, style should always show. Quite simply, the publication should be enjoyable to read. Style provides psychological lubrication, helping the mind to run smoothly. Clearly, style must only assist the serious purposes of publication and should not be abused; the authors have done their best to maintain the appropriate balance.

    This book’s many authors deserve any and all forthcoming applause; the named editors accept sole responsibility for philosophical direction, content choice, errors, omissions, and other sins.

    Jim Williams, Staff Scientist, Linear Technology Corporation


    The fundamental difference between analog and digital is information. With digital information the output is always the same: a set of ones and zeros that represents the information. This information is independent of the supply voltages or the circuitry that is used to generate it. With analog, the output information is basic electrical values—volts, current, charge—and is always related to some real world parameters. With analog, the methodology used to arrive at the answers is intrinsic to the quality of those answers. Errors such as temperature, noise, delay and time stability can all affect the analog output and all are a function of the circuitry that generates the output. It is this analog output that is difficult to derive and requires experience and circuit design talent.

    With integrated circuits (ICs) so prevalent, combined with application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) in most systems, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good analog examples for teaching engineers analog design. Engineering schools provide the basics of device terminal characteristics and some circuit hookup information, but this is not adequate for designing finished circuits or applying modern IC design techniques. The analog circuitry in today’s systems is often difficult to decipher without help from the original designer. The ability to design complex analog systems relies on the ability of engineers to learn from what has gone before.

    One of the best avenues for learning analog design is to use the application notes and information from companies who supply analog integrated circuits. These application notes include circuitry, test results, and the basic reasoning for some of the choices made in the design of these analog circuits. They provide a good starting point for new designs.

    Since the applications are aimed at solving problems, the application notes, combined with the capability to simulate circuits on Spice, provide a key learning pathway for engineers. The analog information in most of these application notes is timeless and will be as valid twenty years from now as it is today. It’s my hope that anyone reading this book is helped through the science and art of good analog design.

    Robert Dobkin

    Co-Founder, Vice President, Engineering, and Chief Technical Officer

    Linear Technology Corporation

    Part 1

    Power Management

    Section 1. Power Management Tutorials

    1 Ceramic input capacitors can cause overvoltage transients

    2 Minimizing switching regulator residue in linear regulator outputs

    3 Power conditioning for notebook and palmtop systems

    4 2-Wire virtual remote sensing for voltage regulators

    Section 2. Switching Regulator Design

    5 LT1070 design manual

    6 Switching regulators for poets

    7 Step-down switching regulators

    8 A monolithic switching regulator with 100μV output noise

    9 Powering complex FPGA-based systems using highly integrated DC/DC μModule regulator systems

    10 Powering complex FPGA-based systems using highly integrated DC/DC µModule regulator systems

    11 Diode turn-on time induced failures in switching regulators

    Section 3. Linear Regulator Design

    12 Performance verification of low noise, low dropout regulators

    Section 4. High Voltage and High Current Applications

    13 Parasitic capacitance effects in step-up transformer design

    14 High efficiency, high density, PolyPhase converters for high current applications

    Section 5. Powering Lasers and Illumination Devices

    15 Ultracompact LCD backlight inverters

    16 A thermoelectric cooler temperature controller for fiber optic lasers

    17 Current sources for fiber optic lasers

    18 Bias voltage and current sense circuits for avalanche photodiodes

    Section 6. Automotive and Industrial Power Design

    19 Developments in battery stack voltage measurement

    Section 1. Power Management Tutorials

    Ceramic input capacitors can cause overvoltage transients (1)

    When it comes to input filtering, ceramic capacitors are a great choice. They offer high ripple current rating and low ESR and ESL. Also, ceramic capacitors are not very sensitive to overvoltage and can be used without derating the operating voltage. However, designers must be aware of a potential overvoltage condition that is generated when input voltage is applied abruptly. After applying an input voltage step, typical input filter circuits with ceramic capacitors can generate voltage transients twice as high as the input voltage. This note describes how to efficiently use ceramic capacitors for input filters and how to avoid potential problems due to input voltage transients.

    Minimizing switching regulator residue in linear regulator outputs (2)

    Linear regulators are commonly employed to post-regulate switching regulator outputs. Benefits include improved stability, accuracy, transient response and lowered output impedance. Ideally, these performance gains would be accompanied by markedly reduced switching regulator generated ripple and spikes. In practice, all linear regulators encounter some difficulty with ripple and spikes, particularly as frequency rises. This publication explains the causes of linear regulators’ dynamic limitations and presents board level techniques for improving ripple and spike rejection. A hardware based ripple/spike simulator is presented, enabling rapid breadboard testing under various conditions. Three appendices review ferrite beads, inductor based filters and probing practice for wideband, sub-millivolt signals.

    Power conditioning for notebook and palmtop systems (3)

    Notebook and palmtop systems need a number of voltages developed from a battery. Competitive solutions require small size, high efficiency and light weight. This publication includes circuits for high efficiency 5V and 3.3V switching and linear regulators, backlight display drivers and battery chargers. All the circuits are specifically tailored for the requirements outlined above.

    Two wire virtual remote sensing for voltage regulators (4)

    Wires and connectors have resistance. This simple, unavoidable truth dictates that a power source’s remote load voltage will be less than the source’s output voltage. The classical approach to mitigating this utilizes 4-wire remote sensing to eliminate line drop effects. The power supply’s high impedance sense inputs are fed from separate, load-referred sense wires. This scheme works well, but requires dedicated sense wires, a significant disadvantage in many applications. A new approach, utilizing carrier modulation techniques, eliminates sense wires while maintaining load regulation.


    Ceramic input capacitors can cause overvoltage transients

    Goran Perica

    A recent trend in the design of portable devices has been to use ceramic capacitors to filter DC/DC converter inputs. Ceramic capacitors are often chosen because of their small size, low equivalent series resistance (ESR) and high RMS current capability. Also, recently, designers have been looking to ceramic capacitors due to shortages of tantalum capacitors.

    Unfortunately, using ceramic capacitors for input filtering can cause problems. Applying a voltage step to a ceramic capacitor causes a large current surge that stores energy in the inductances of the power leads. A large voltage spike is created when the stored energy is transferred from these inductances into the ceramic capacitor. These voltage spikes can easily be twice the amplitude of the input voltage step.

    Plug in the wall adapter at your own risk

    The input voltage transient problem is related to the power-up sequence. If the wall adapter is plugged into an AC outlet and powered up first, plugging the wall adapter output into a portable device can cause input voltage transients that could damage the DC/DC converters inside the device.

    Building the Test Circuit

    To illustrate the problem, a typical 24V wall adapter used in notebook computer applications was connected to the input of a typical notebook computer DC/DC converter. The DC/DC converter used was a synchronous buck converter that generates 3.3V from a 24V input.

    The block diagram of the test setup is shown in Figure 1.1. The inductor LOUT represents the lumped equivalent inductance of the lead inductance and the output EMI filter inductor found in some wall adapters. The output capacitor in the wall adapter is usually on the order of 1000 μF; for our purposes, we can assume that it has low ESR—in the 10mΩ to 30mΩ range. The equivalent circuit of the wall adapter and DC/DC converter interface is actually a series resonant tank, with the dominant components being LOUT, CIN and the lumped ESR (the lumped ESR must include the ESR of CIN, the lead resistance and the resistance of LOUT).

    Figure 1.1 Block Diagram of Wall Adapter and Portable Device Connection

    The input capacitor, CIN, must be a low ESR device, capable of carrying the input ripple current. In a typical notebook computer application, this capacitor is in the range of 10 μF to 100 μF. The exact capacitor value depends on a number of factors but the main requirement is that it must handle the input ripple current produced by the DC/DC converter. The input ripple current is usually in the range of 1A to 2A. Therefore, the required capacitors would be either one 10 μF to 22 μF ceramic capacitor, two to three 22 μF tantalum capacitors or one to two 22 μF OS-CON capacitors.

    Turning on the switch

    When switch SW1 in Figure 1.1 is turned on, the mayhem starts. Since the wall adapter is already plugged in, there is 24V across its low impedance output capacitor. On the other hand, the input capacitor CIN is at 0V potential. What happens from t = 0s is pretty basic. The applied input voltage will cause current to flow through LOUT. CIN will begin charging and the voltage across CIN will ramp up toward the 24V input voltage. Once the voltage across CIN has reached the output voltage of the wall adapter, the energy stored in LOUT will raise the voltage across CIN further above 24V. The voltage across CIN will eventually reach its peak and will then fall back to 24V. The voltage across CIN may ring for some time around the 24V value. The actual waveform will depend on the circuit elements.

    If you intend to run this circuit simulation, keep in mind that the real-life circuit elements are very seldom linear under transient conditions. For example, the capacitors may undergo a change of capacitance (Y5V ceramic capacitors will lose 80% of the initial capacitance under rated input voltage). Also, the ESR of input capacitors will depend on the rise time of the waveform. The inductance of EMI-suppressing inductors may also drop during transients due to the saturation of the magnetic material.

    Testing a portable application

    Input voltage transients with typical values of CIN and LOUT used in notebook computer applications are shown in Figure 1.2. Figure 1.2 shows input voltage transients for CIN values of 10 μF and 22 μF with LOUT values of 1 μH and 10 μH.

    Figure 1.2 Input Voltage Transients Across Ceramic Capacitors

    Table 1.1 Peak Voltages of Waveforms In Figure 1.2

    The top waveform shows the worst-case transient, with a 10 μF capacitor and 1 μH inductor. The voltage across CIN peaks at 57.2V with a 24V DC input. The DC/DC converter may not survive repeated exposure to 57.2V.

    The waveform with 10 μF and 10 μH (trace R2) looks a bit better. The peak is still around 50V. The flat part of the waveform R2 following the peak indicates that the synchronous MOSFET M1, inside of the DC/DC converter in Figure 1.1, is avalanching and taking the energy hit. Traces R3 and R4 peak at around 41V and are for a 22 μF capacitor with 1 μH and 10 μH inductors, respectively.

    Input voltage transients with different input elements

    Different types of input capacitors will result in different transient voltage waveforms, as shown in Figure 1.3. The reference waveform for 22 μF capacitor and 1  μH inductor is shown in the top trace (R1); it peaks at 40.8V.

    Figure 1.3 Input Transients with Different Input Components

    The waveform R2 in Figure 1.3 shows what happens when a transient voltage suppressor is added across the input. The input voltage transient is clamped but not eliminated. It is very hard to set the voltage transient’s breakdown voltage low enough to protect the DC/DC converter and far enough from the operating DC level of the input source (24V). The transient voltage suppressor P6KE30A that was used was too close to starting to conduct at 24V.

    Unfortunately, using a transient voltage suppressor with a higher voltage rating would not provide a sufficiently low clamping voltage.

    The waveforms R3 and R4 are with a 22 μF, 35V AVX TPS type tantalum capacitor and a 22 μF, 30V Sanyo OS-CON capacitor, respectively. With these two capacitors, the transients have been brought to manageable levels. However, these capacitors are bigger than the ceramic capacitors and more than one capacitor is required in order to meet the input ripple current requirements.

    Table 1.2 Peak Voltages of Waveforms In Figure 1.3

    Optimizing Input Capacitors

    Waveforms in Figure 1.3 show how input transients vary with the type of input capacitors used.

    Optimizing the input capacitors requires clear understanding of what is happening during transients. Just as in an ordinary resonant RLC circuit, the circuit in Figure 1.1 may have an underdamped, critically damped or overdamped transient response.

    Because of the objective to minimize the size of input filter circuit, the resulting circuit is usually an underdamped resonant tank. However, a critically damped circuit is actually required. A critically damped circuit will rise nicely to the input voltage without voltage overshoots or ringing.

    To keep the input filter design small, it is desirable to use ceramic capacitors because of their high ripple current ratings and low ESR. To start the design, the minimum value of the input capacitor must first be determined. In the example, it has been determined that a 22 μF, 35V ceramic capacitor should be sufficient. The input transients generated with this capacitor are shown in the top trace of Figure 1.4. Clearly, there will be a problem if components that are rated for 30V are used.

    Figure 1.4 Optimizing Input Circuit Waveforms for Reduced Peak Voltage

    To obtain optimum transient characteristic, the input circuit has to be damped. The waveform R2 shows what happens when another 22 μF ceramic capacitor with a 0.5 Ω resistor in series is added. The input voltage transient is now nicely leveled off at 30V.

    Critical damping can also be achieved by adding a capacitor of a type that already has high ESR (on the order of 0.5 Ω). The waveform R3 shows the transient response when a 22 μF, 35V TPS type tantalum capacitor from AVX is added across the input.

    Table 1.3 Peak Voltages of Waveforms In Figure 1.4 with 22 μF Input Ceramic Capacitor and Added Snubber

    The waveform R4 shows the input voltage transient with a 30V transient voltage suppressor for comparison.

    Finally, an ideal waveform shown in Figure 1.4, bottom trace (Ch1) is achieved. It also turns out that this is the least expensive solution. The circuit uses a 47 μF, 35V aluminum electrolytic capacitor from Sanyo (35CV47AXA). This capacitor has just the right value of capacitance and ESR to provide critical damping of the 22 μF ceramic capacitor in conjunction with the 1 μH of input inductance. The 35CV47AXA has an ESR value of 0.44 Ω and an RMS current rating of 230mA. Clearly, this capacitor could not be used alone in an application with 1A to 2A of RMS ripple current without the 22 μF ceramic capacitor. An additional benefit is that this capacitor is very small, measuring just 6.3mm by 6mm.


    Input voltage transients are a design issue that should not be ignored. Design solutions for preventing input voltage transients can be very simple and effective. If the solution is properly applied, input capacitors can be minimized and both cost and size minimized without sacrificing performance.


    Minimizing switching regulator residue in linear regulator outputs

    Banishing those accursed spikes

    Jim Williams


    Linear regulators are commonly employed to post-regulate switching regulator outputs. Benefits include improved stability, accuracy, transient response and lowered output impedance. Ideally, these performance gains would be accompanied by markedly reduced switching regulator generated ripple and spikes. In practice, all linear regulators encounter some difficulty with ripple and spikes, particularly as frequency rises. This effect is magnified at small regulator VIN to VOUT differential voltages; unfortunate, because such small differentials are desirable to maintain efficiency. Figure 2.1 shows a conceptual linear regulator and associated components driven from a switching regulator output.

    Figure 2.1 Conceptual Linear Regulator and Its Filter Capacitors Theoretically Reject Switching Regulator Ripple and Spikes

    The input filter capacitor is intended to smooth the ripple and spikes before they reach the regulator. The output capacitor maintains low output impedance at higher frequencies, improves load transient response and supplies frequency compensation for some regulators. Ancillary purposes include noise reduction and minimization of residual input-derived artifacts appearing at the regulators output. It is this last category–residual input-derived artifacts—that is of concern. These high frequency components, even though small amplitude, can cause problems in noise-sensitive video, communication and other types of circuitry. Large numbers of capacitors and aspirin have been expended in attempts to eliminate these undesired signals and their resultant effects. Although they are stubborn and sometimes seemingly immune to any treatment, understanding their origin and nature is the key to containing them.

    Switching regulator AC output content

    Figure 2.2 details switching regulator dynamic (AC) output content. It consists of relatively low frequency ripple at the switching regulator’s clock frequency, typically 100kHz to 3MHz, and very high frequency content spikes associated with power switch transition times. The switching regulator’s pulsed energy delivery creates the ripple. Filter capacitors smooth the output, but not completely. The spikes, which often have harmonic content approaching 100MHz, result from high energy, rapidly switching power elements within the switching regulator. The filter capacitor is intended to reduce these spikes but in practice cannot entirely eliminate them. Slowing the regulator’s repetition rate and transition times can greatly reduce ripple and spike amplitude, but magnetics size increases and efficiency falls¹. The same rapid clocking and fast switching that allows small magnetics size and high efficiency results in high frequency ripple and spikes presented to the linear regulator.

    Figure 2.2 Switching Regulator Output Contains Relatively Low Frequency Ripple and High Frequency Spikes Derived From Regulator’s Pulsed Energy Delivery and Fast Transition Times

    Ripple and spike rejection

    The regulator is better at rejecting the ripple than the very wideband spikes. Figure 2.3 shows rejection performance for an LT1763 low dropout linear regulator. There is 40db attenuation at 100kHz, rolling off to about 25db at 1MHz. The much more wideband spikes pass directly through the regulator. The output filter capacitor, intended to absorb the spikes, also has high frequency performance limitations. The regulator’s and filter capacitor’s imperfect response, due to high frequency parasitics, reveals Figure 2.1 to be overly simplistic. Figure 2.4 restates Figure 2.1 and includes the parasitic terms as well as some new components.

    Figure 2.3 Ripple Rejection Characteristics for an LT1763 Low Dropout Linear Regulator Show 40dB Attenuation at 100kHz, Rolling Off Towards 1MHz. Switching Spike Harmonic Content Approaches 100MHz; Passes Directly From Input to Output

    Figure 2.4 Conceptual Linear Regulator Showing High Frequency Rejection Parasitics. Finite GBW and PSRR vs Frequency Limit Regulator’s High Frequency Rejection. Passive Components Attenuate Ripple and Spikes, But Parasitics Degrade Effectiveness. Layout Capacitance and Ground Potential Differences Add Errors, Complicate Measurement

    The figure considers the regulation path with emphasis on high frequency parasitics. It is important to identify these parasitic terms because they allow ripple and spikes to propagate into the nominally regulated output. Additionally, understanding the parasitic elements permits a measurement strategy, facilitating reduction of high frequency output content. The regulator includes high frequency parasitic paths, primarily capacitive, across its pass transistor and into its reference and regulation amplifier. These terms combine with finite regulator gain-bandwidth to limit high frequency rejection. The input and output filter capacitors include parasitic inductance and resistance, degrading their effectiveness as frequency rises. Stray layout capacitance provides additional unwanted feedthrough paths. Ground potential differences, promoted by ground path resistance and inductance, add additional error and also complicate measurement. Some new components, not normally associated with linear regulators, also appear. These additions include ferrite beads or inductors in the regulator input and output lines. These components have their own high frequency parasitic paths but can considerably improve overall regulator high frequency rejection and will be addressed in following text.

    Ripple/spike simulator

    Gaining understanding of the problem requires observing regulator response to ripple and spikes under a variety of conditions. It is desirable to be able to independently vary ripple and spike parameters, including frequency, harmonic content, amplitude, duration and DC level. This is a very versatile capability, permitting real time optimization and sensitivity analysis to various circuit variations. Although there is no substitute for observing linear regulator performance under actual switching regulator driven conditions, a hardware simulator makes surprises less likely. Figure 2.5 provides this capability. It simulates a switching regulator’s output with independently settable DC, ripple and spike parameters.

    Figure 2.5 Circuit Simulates Switching Regulator Output. DC, Ripple Amplitude, Frequency and Spike Duration/Height are Independently Settable. Split Path Scheme Sums Wideband Spikes with DC and Ripple, Presenting Linear Regulator with Simulated Switching Regulator Output. Function Generator Sources Waveforms to Both Paths

    A commercially available function generator combines with two parallel signal paths to form the circuit. DC and ripple are transmitted on a relatively slow path while wideband spike information is processed via a fast path. The two paths are combined at the linear regulator input. The function generator’s settable ramp output (trace A, Figure 2.6) feeds the DC/ripple path made up of power amplifier A1 and associated components. A1 receives the ramp input and DC bias information and drives the regulator under test. L1 and the 1Ω resistor allow A1 to drive the regulator at ripple frequencies without instability. The wideband spike path is sourced from the function generator’s pulsed sync output (trace B). This output’s edges are differentiated (trace C) and fed to bipolar comparator C1-C2. The comparator outputs (traces D and E) are spikes synchronized to the ramp’s inflection points. Spike width is controlled by complementary DC threshold potentials applied to C1 and C2 with the 1k potentiometer and A2. Diode gating and the paralleled logic inverters present trace F to the spike amplitude control. Follower Q1 sums the spikes with A1’s DC/ripple path, forming the linear regulator’s input (trace G).

    Figure 2.6 Switching Regulator Output Simulator Waveforms. Function Generator Supplies Ripple (Trace A) and Spike (Trace B) Path Information. Differentiated Spike Information’s Bipolar Excursion (Trace C) is Compared by C1-C2, Resulting in Trace D and E Synchronized Spikes. Diode Gating/Inverters Present Trace F to Spike Amplitude Control. Q1 Sums Spikes with DC-Ripple Path From Power Amplifier A1, Forming Linear Regulator Input (Trace G). Spike Width Set Abnormally Wide for Photographic Clarity

    Linear regulator high frequency rejection evaluation/optimization

    The circuit described above facilitates evaluation and optimization of linear regulator high frequency rejection. The following photographs show results for one typical set of conditions, but DC bias, ripple and spike characteristics may be varied to suit desired test parameters. Figure 2.7 shows Figure 2.5’s LT1763 3V regulator response to a 3.3V DC input with trace A’s ripple/spike contents, CIN = 1μF and COUT = 10μF. Regulator output (trace B) shows ripple attenuated by a