Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power


Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power
The effects of matching the large-signal input and load impedances of an active device during RF power amplifier design Francisco Javier Ortega Gonzalez, Jose Luis Jimenez Martin and Alberto Asensio Lopez April 1, 1998

Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power
To date, one of the most important design methods for RF power amplifiers (PA) still consists of matching the large-signal input and load impedances of an active device. These large-signal impedances are supplied by the manufacturer of the active devices or are measured directly by the user. In both cases, the output power level and efficiency are associated with those large-signal impedances. Nevertheless, in practice, the output power, efficiency and even the operation mode depend not only on the large-signal impedances but also on the matching networks used to provide the recommended loads for the transistor. This phenomenon is caused by the high frequency behavior of the matching networks. The usual practice of using a short-circuited l /4 line located at the collector or drain of the transistor to supply DC power causes similar frequency-limiting effects due to the behavior of l /4 lines at harmonics of the fundamental frequency. Francisco Javier Ortega Gonzalez and Jose Luis Jimenez Martin EUIT Telecomunicación Madrid, Spain Alberto Asensio López ETSI Telecomunicación (GMR) Madrid, Spain The most popular methods for designing RF PAs utilize load-pull techniques in different sophistication levels, techniques based on load-line theory and techniques based on nonlinear simulation. By far, the load-pull design techniques are still the most widely used by most engineers and, hence, are the focus of this article. However, this method’s popularity does not mean the other design techniques are not important. Load-Pull Methods



The results obtained can be extrapolated to any network with the same behavior in the frequency domain. particularly if wideband matching is required. various manufacturers published application notes and tables to design matching networks for RF power amplifiers. This test fixture can provide insight into the high frequency behavior of the loads recommended by the manufacturer.microwavejournal.2 these works are still a minority. The data provided by the manufacturer always are measured at the operating frequency. In the end.4 The results obtained for transmission line or descrete matching networks with regard to the focus of this article are exactly the same. Therefore. In the near future. Only sometimes does the manufacturer show the test fixture used to measure the large-signal impedances. Nevertheless. The impedances are selected to maximize features such as gain or output power. it is necessary to employ matching networks to provide these impedances at the input and load of the active device. the cost of these systems is still high. www.20/04/13 Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power The design methods of PAs based on load-pull measurements (matching of large-signal impedances) consist of providing a concrete load impedance at the output of a transistor and simultaneously matching the input impedance of the device. In most cases. The transistor’s large-signal impedances are provided by the manufacturer or are measured directly by the user. Although an increasing number of papers about multiharmonic load-pull measurements appear in technical literature every day. the designer is able to measure the large-signal impedances of a device only at the fundamental frequency. After the large-signal impedances are determined. the operating frequency determines the use of matching networks using descrete components (capacitors and coils) or transmission lines. the output impedance of the generator and the load must be transformed into the required large-signal impedances at the input and output of the transistor. this work will concentrate on analyzing matching networks with descrete components. other important features such as collector/drain or added efficiencies are secondary. these impedances are suitable for the operating conditions for which the transistor was designed.com/articles/print/2303-effects-of-matching-on-rf-power-amplifier-efficiency-and-output-power 2/9 . For the same application.3. In addition. Usually. In his application note. Large-signal impedances are typically measured only at the fundamental operating frequency. it is important to determine the usefulness of the load and input impedances provided by the manufacturer or in-house measurements. Usually. During the 1960s and 1970s.1.3 The threeelement matching networks are useful for narrowband matching. However. Davis describes four matching networks consisting of three elements each. Matching The problem of determining how to design the matching networks of any amplifier can be complex. designers have found that the resulting output power and efficiency can be substantially different. In most cases. matching networks different from those described by Davis are necessary to match the large-signal impedances provided by the manufacturer. this situation most likely will change because some manufacturers are beginning to offer automatic multiharmonic load-pull measurement systems.

This case is the opposite of the one mentioned previously. a high reactive impedance tending toward an open circuit is provided for the harmonics of the fundamental frequency.5 + j9. The high frequency behavior of this network is completely different from the behavior of network A.3 Network C begins with a coil.0 L2(mH) -- -- 10. Nevertheless.microwavejournal. It is different from network A in that it has two coils. At high frequencies.4 C1(pF) 2. In this sense. its high frequency behavior is similar to but better than the high frequency of network A and is said to achieve high collector efficiencies.1 6. Most PA devices use loads and have input large-signal impedances lower than 50 W .) In this way. in many cases.6 www.2 8. Network B is recommended to match tube amplifiers. Three of these matching networks.20/04/13 Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power The efficiency and output power of RF PAs are not the only parameters that depend on the matching network used to match the large-signal impedances provided for the device. this network is able to match the input and load impedances provided for the device. The first thing the transistor sees is a coil. network A begins with a coil. The mode of operation (C or C-E) also can change. Network B starts with a capacitor connected to ground.com/articles/print/2303-effects-of-matching-on-rf-power-amplifier-efficiency-and-output-power 3/9 . this network tends toward a short circuit. shown in Figure 1 . the coil L1 should be attached directly to the collector/drain at the output or the base/gate at the input of the device.3 Table 1 lists the frequency behavior of the three matching networks that are used to provide a proper load impedance at the output of a transistor. will be analyzed from this point of view. which causes the high frequency performance of the matching network to be inductive and tending toward an open circuit. The load to be matched is ZLOAD = 12. (An exception occurs if the coil exhibits self resonances near the operating frequency. emphasizing their high frequency behavior. although the correct load can be achieved at the fundamental frequency. In this sense. the reactance of this capacitor decreases when the frequency increases. Obviously.0 2. Table I Matching Network Frequency Behavior Network A Network B Network C L1(mH) 8. The quality factor Q of the three networks is 3. For this reason.7 28.

all the matching networks are able to provide the required load impedance at 900 MHz.0 + j9. Table 2 lists the performance obtained with networks A.0 At 2700 MHz 5.microwavejournal. This high frequency behavior will influence not only the device’s output power and efficiency performance. Network B tends toward a low capacitive impedance (short circuit). The behavior of the device loaded at the output is the only case addressed in this article.0 0.0 13.0 + j9. B and C are displayed. 3 and 4 show nonlinear time-domain simulations where the output waveforms of current and voltage of the same transistor matched with networks A.3 0.7 0.8 + j74. Output Matching www.0 At 1800 MHz 8. It is apparent that the same load impedance at the fundamental frequency yields very different results.2 + j12.5 As can be seen. Table II Amplifier Performance vs.com/articles/print/2303-effects-of-matching-on-rf-power-amplifier-efficiency-and-output-power 4/9 . but also the class of operation.6 +j118.0 0 – j2.4 12. their high frequency behavior is completely different.20/04/13 Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power C2(pF) 3 22 -- Local Impedence ( W ) At 900m MHz 12.0 + j9. Matching networks A and C tend toward high inductive impedances (open circuit) as the frequency increases. Figures 2. Nevertheless.4 + j68. B and C.01 – j3.

In this way. This effect tends to preclude the C operating mode because the conditions required cannot be achieved.5 Added Effic.4 6. The high frequency behavior of network B is the opposite of the high frequency behavior of network A.25 In network A. network A forces the transistor to work in a mixed-C mode5 or class C-E. it is believed that the inductance of the package (bonding) plays a very important role in this effect. This effect is due mainly to the nonlinear output capacitance of the device (apart from other considerations). it is almost impossible to achieve true class C operation with RF power bipolar transistors. the transistor used in the amplifier to perform this work has its base connected to ground.47 24.0 20. (%) 77. The output waveforms of the amplifier are completely different from regular output waveforms of class C operation.20/04/13 Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power Network A Network B Network C Pout (W) 8. but class C requires collector current flowing in less than 180° of the signal period as well as short circuits for harmonics of the fundamental frequency. In fact. (%) 71 19 80 Pdc (W) 11.0 88. The data show that the collector current and VCE are exactly opposite of what is required for class C operation. The data show that the output power and efficiency for these networks are very low.00 9. the amplifier is expected to function in a true class C operating mode.microwavejournal. The high frequency trend of network A is exactly the opposite of the required behavior for class C operation.87 4. www. It offers short circuits at the harmonics of the operating frequency.1 Collector Effic.71 8. particularly at high frequencies.20 Pin (W) 1 1 1 Power gain (dB) 9.5 Nevertheless. Rather.7 9.com/articles/print/2303-effects-of-matching-on-rf-power-amplifier-efficiency-and-output-power 5/9 .6 The data show a very high efficiency for network A as a result of the mixed-C mode or class C-E amplifier performance. Many designers may think this configuration is equivalent to working in class C.

Not all of the loads could be matched with network B. The constant efficiency contours also are very similar for networks A and C. The output waveforms are also similar to the waveforms obtained with network A. matching network C yields better collector efficiency as predicted. it is easy to conclude that the high frequency behavior of the matching networks causes not only important changes in RF PA efficiency and output power. These results agree with the values obtained for efficiency and output power. The operation mode is also mixed C or C-E.6. once the harmonic load impedance is set highly inductive the collector efficiency depends mainly on the load at the fundamental frequency.3 This result also confirms that the mixed-C or C-E mode is similar to class E. C-E or mixed-C amplifiers.com/articles/print/2303-effects-of-matching-on-rf-power-amplifier-efficiency-and-output-power 6/9 . The collector efficiency obtained with network C is slightly better.20/04/13 Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power The high frequency behavior of network C is similar to but better than the high frequency behavior of network A (at least at the second harmonic).microwavejournal. These results have been obtained for one load impedance only. However. the resulting collector efficiency is the best of the three configurations. 7 and 8 show load-pull diagrams obtained on the Smith chart that resulted from various loads provided by networks A and C. but some differences in the maximum values exist. Figures 5. 6. The output power contours obtained with networks A and C are very similar.8 From these three examples. it is easy to derive constant output power and constant collector efficiency h c load-pull contours.7 For this kind of amplifier operating in class E.8 On the other hand. Network C exhibits weak inductive behavior for the third harmonic. C-E or mixed-C mode (from a frequency point of view). particularly at VHF and www. This result enforces the theory that the value of the load at the second harmonic is crucial for efficiency and the load at the third harmonic only refines the main performance. Many RF amplifiers function in this way. but also that the operation mode depends on these networks. Apparently. most of the so-called C amplifiers are actually E. It is useful to determine if these results can be reproduced for any load on the Smith chart. Analyzing these data.

Table III Amplifier Performance vs.43 Pin (W) 1 1 www. 900 MHz). Transmission Line Location Location A Location B Pout (W) 3.84 8. Figure 9 shows the analyzed PA with a short-circuited l /4 line attached directly at the collector and at the output of matching network C. This type of line usually is located at the collector/drain of a transistor. The Short-circuited l /4 Transmission Line Determining how to feed PAs is another routine problem faced by RF PA designers. This behavior at high frequencies influences the device’s collector efficiency and output power.com/articles/print/2303-effects-of-matching-on-rf-power-amplifier-efficiency-and-output-power 7/9 . Table 3 lists the performance of the amplifier using a l /4line at the collector to feed the amplifier (location a) or after the matching network (location b).20/04/13 Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power UHF. were obtained using a coil to feed the collector of the transistor. The transmission line is short circuited at one of its extremities. The output waveforms (VCE/VDS and iC /iD ). shown in Figures 10 and 11 . The l /4 lines exhibit infinite impedance at the fundamental frequency and odd harmonics. The test circuits of the manufacturers only need to be examined to confirm this fact. and a short circuit at the even harmonics. l /4 transmission lines are used frequently at high frequencies (for example. The same output waveforms (VCE/VDS and iC/iD) are displayed when the coil is replaced by a l/4 line attached at the collector/drain or output of the matching network.microwavejournal.

A similar situation occurs when the collector coil self resonates at frequencies lower than the third harmonic of the operating frequency. This similarity occurs because the l /4 line provides a short circuit at the second harmonic of the operating frequency. The high frequency behavior of the matching networks influences not only the performance of RF amplifiers. Figure 12 shows the area in which the entire Smith chart is converted when it is seen at different harmonics through the built-in matching network of a commercial power transistor. limiting output power and. the design of the amplifier should closely resemble the test circuit recommended by the manufacturer.6 9. Conclusion The effects of matching networks on RF PA efficiency and output have been analyzed. especially. The effects associated with short-circuited l /4 lines used for feeding purposes also have been analyzed. As a result. Furthermore. the performance is similar to that obtained with matching networks A and C. If this configuration is not possible. a packaged transistor with a built-in matching network most often functions like an amplifier rather than a transistor. Therefore. In this sense. The Transistor Package Most PA designers use packaged transistors. The www. As a result. In order to achieve the specified performance for any device. but also their operating modes. bonding and dynamic and stray capacitances of the device also limit the performance of the design. the high frequency behavior of the matching networks at least must reproduce as closely as possible the high frequency behavior of the networks used in the manufacturer’s test fixture (at the input and output of the transistor). the large-signal impedances offered by the manufacturers should be viewed with caution. (%) 17 91 Added Efficiency (%) 16 87 Pdc (W) 22. The behavior of builtin matching networks is similar to that of any matching network.2 Collector Effic. If the l /4 line is located after the matching network (location b).microwavejournal.com/articles/print/2303-effects-of-matching-on-rf-power-amplifier-efficiency-and-output-power 8/9 . The load at the third and higher harmonics only contributes to refining the potential high efficiency behavior. collector efficiency.20/04/13 Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power Power gain (dB) 5. It was determined from the high frequency behavior of the matching networks that the load at the second harmonic is crucial to improving efficiency.8 9. built-in matching networks can determine the operating mode of the final amplifier. the high frequency behavior of the matching network predominates over the high frequency behavior of the line. Many packaged power transistors have built-in matching networks to increase the operating bandwidth of the device.2 It is apparent that the first location of the l /4 line (at the collector) leads to a situation similar to using matching network B.

"Multiharmonic Load Termination Effects on GaAs MESFET Power Amplifiers." Application Note ANA267. "A Novel Computerized Multiharmonic Loadpull and Power Measurement System. depending on the location selected (attached directly to the collector or after the matching network). Krauss. C. 1995. Motorola Semiconductors. Acknowledgment The authors wish to thank Jose Manuel Ledo for the load-pull simulations described in this article." Application Note AN282A.W. Villote.L. This article has analyzed only the problem at the output of the device. Bouysse and J. information about this important topic.H. P. New York. R.P. the reason is due to the high frequency behavior of the l/4 transmission lines.com/articles/print/2303-effects-of-matching-on-rf-power-amplifier-efficiency-and-output-power 9/9 . H." Microwave Journal. if any. FL. 60–77. 3. Orlando." Proceedings of the Microwave Theory and Techniques Symposium (MTT-S). April 1996.M. 2. J. NY . Bostian and F. Nebus.microwavejournal. Raab. "Systemizing RF Power Amplifier Design. Solid State Radio Engineering. The effects of matching networks at the input of the device will be covered in future work. www. Again. Manufacturers usually offer little. Blache. "Matching Networks Designs with Computer Solutions. Staudinger. Similarly. F. Hejhall. 5. Davis. F. the package of the transistor and built-in matching network (if it exists) influences the operating mode and performance of the amplifier. References 1. pp. Wiley. 4. J. Motorola Semiconductors.20/04/13 Effects of Matching on RF Power Amplifier Efficiency and Output Power high frequency behavior of these lines modifies the efficiency and output power of PAs.

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