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# EEEB273/EEEB314 Electronics II - Analog IC Biasing and Active Loads (Part 1)

loads (Part 1) BJT Current Sources
Preamble Biasing BJT Circuits to Achieve Forward-active
Mode
Single Base Resistor Biasing
Simple
i.e. Q-point varies
with
Requires large
resistors (Ms), i.e.
uses large area,
which is an
important issue in IC
design.
design

Simple
i.e. Q-point varies
with
Requires large
resistors (Ms), i.e.
uses large area,
which is an
important issue in IC
design.
Figure 1: Common-emitter circuit
with a single bias resistor in the base.

## Voltage Divider Biasing and Bias Stability

Figure 2: Common-emitter circuit
with an emitter resistor and voltage
divider bias circuit in the base.

## Dr. Ungku Anisa, UNITEN, 2007

Smaller resistors
required (k
range)
RE has provided
bias stabilisation
and negative
feedback
Resistor size is
still undesirable
for IC design

## Positive and Negative Voltage Biasing

Figure 3: Simple transistor circuit
biased with both positive and
negative dc voltages.

Used for
differential
amplifier biasing
Allows, in
certain
application, for
elimination of CC
and allows use of
dc input voltages
as input signals
Resistor size is
still undesirable
for IC design.

## The main issues required for biasing in IC design:

Bias stabilisation
Avoiding devices consuming large area, i.e. avoiding the use of
moderate and large resistors

## Integrated Circuit Biasing

Can be a current source that establishes the
quiescent collector current ICQ as shown in
Figure 4.
o Emitter current becomes independent of
and RB
o Collector current and C-E voltage are
independent of transistor gain, for
reasonable values
o Value of RB (hence Rin) can be increased
Figure 4: Bipolar
circuit affecting
with ideal bias stability
without
current-source biasing.

## What type of circuits can be designed to establish bias current IO?

Two-Transistor Current Source a.k.a Current Mirror
Basic building block in IC current
source design
Q1 is diode-connected
Q1 and Q2 are matched, i.e.
identical,

## VBE1 = VBE2 = VBE

IB1 = IB2
IC1 = IC2

Connected as a
diode; when X
supplies are
connected, BEjunction is
forward biased.
Figure 5: Two-transistor current
source with reference resistor R1.

## The reference current is given by:

I REF

V VBE V
R1

(1.1)

Current relationship:
o At collector node of Q1, i.e. at point X: I REF I C 2 2 I B 2
o Therefore, output current is
IO IC2

I REF
1 2

(1.2)

## **Design Example 10.1, Ex. 10.1

Output resistance, ro:

## o Eq. (1.2) assumes Early voltage, VA = .

o When Early effect is taken into account,
VA and ro is finite.
o Stability of IO is affected by the bias
conditions in the load circuit. (Remember,
want IO = IREF for biasing)

## o Hence, assuming VCE1 (= VBE) << VA,

dI O
I
1
O
dVCE 2 V A ro 2
dI

O
o A more general equation to calculate dIO: dVCE 2 RO

(1.3)

## where RO is the output resistance of the current source and is

different for different types of current sources.
**Exercise 10.2, Ex. 10.2
Mismatched Transistors
In most IC fabrication of current sources, Q1 and Q2 will be directly adjacent
to each other. Hence, they can be very well matched.
However, if Q1 and Q2 are mismatched and >>1, base currents can be
neglected to give:
I REF I C1 I S1eVBE / VT and I O I C 2 I S 2 eVBE / VT

Therefore,

IO
I REF

IS2
I S1

(1.4)

## IS1 and IS2 are:

reverse-saturation currents for Q1 and Q2 respectively
functions of cross-sectional area of the B-E junctions
Hence, (1.4) allows scaling of IO with respect to IREF by having transistors
of different sizes.

## Improved Current Source Circuits

Lets look at current source circuits that have improved load current stability
against:
changes in
changes in output transistor collector voltage
i.

## Basic Three-Transistor Current

Source
Assume all transistors identical.
VBE1 = VBE2 = VBE
IB1 = IB2
IC1 = IC2
1 = 2 =

I E 3 1 3 I B 3 2 I B 2
Figure 6: Basic three-transistor
current source.

smaller
< .

I REF

(1.5)

## than in either Q1 and Q2, i.e. 3

VBE3
The
Usually assume
= reference current is given by:
V . Hence, the term
V 2V BEBE V
2VBE.

(1.6)
R1

Current relationship:
o Summing the currents at point X: I REF I C 2 I B 3
o Therefore, output current is
I REF

IO IC2

2
1 3

(1.7)

1. Better approximation of IO to IREF
2. IO less sensitive to variation in

## Output resistance, ro:

o Looking into the collector of the output transistor Q2 in the threetransistor current source, ro is the same as in the two-transistor
current source:
1
dI O

dVCE 2

ro

VA
IO

(1.8)

If there exists any mismatch between Q1 and Q2, the bias current deviation
from the ideal is as given in eq. (1.4).
**Example 10.3, Ex. 10.3
1.
Cascode Current Source
Designed such that RO is greater than that of the two-transistor
circuit.
Assumption: all the transistors are matched. Hence, IO IREF.

K
L
L

Figure 7: (a) Bipolar cascode current mirror; (b) small-signal equivalent circuit
(Note: Voltage source Vx is connected to the output to enable calculation of output
resistance RO).

## Base voltages of Q2 and Q4 are constant, which implies these terminals (K

and L in Figure 7) are signal ground.
Figure 7(b) can be rearranged to give Figure 8.

V x Vbe 4

ro 4

I x g m 4Vbe 4

RO

Vx
ro 4 1 r 4 ro 4
Ix

(1.9)

## Hence, the output resistance has increased by a factor of compared to

the two-transistor current source.
Advantage: Increases current source stability with changes in output
voltage.
1.

## Wilson Current Source

Another configuration of a threetransistor current source.
Assume all transistors identical.
Y

IB1 = IB2
IC1 = IC2

## EEEB273/EEEB314 Electronics II - Analog IC Biasing and Active Loads (Part 1)

Current levels in all three transistors are nearly the same, therefore
1 =2 =3 =

At point X:
I REF I C1 I B 3 I C 2 I B 3

current source.

(1.10)

## Nodal equation at emitter of Q3, i.e. point Y:

2
I E 3 I C 2 2 I B 2 I C 2 1

(1.11)

IC2

I E3
1
I

1 2 2 C 3

(1.12)

1

I O I C 3 I REF

(1.13)

## This current relationship is essentially the same as of the previous three-transistor

current source (given by eq. 1.7). The difference is in the higher output
resistance of Wilson current source.
The output resistance for the Wilson current source, looking into the
collector of Q3:
RO

ro 3
2

(1.14)

## Widlar Current Source

In all the previous current source circuits, the load current and reference
currents have been nearly equal.

## For the two-transistor current source (Figure 5), if a load current of IO =

10A is required, for V+ = 5V and V- = 5V, the resistance value needed is:
R1

V VBE V 5 0.7 5

930k
I REF
10

Resistors in the order of 1M require large area and are difficult to fabricate
accurately for IC application. Hence, the resistor values are limited to the
low kilohm range.
The Widlar current source, shown below, meets the above requirement.
Voltage difference across RE enables
VBE2 < VBE1
Hence, IO < IREF.
Q1 and Q2 are identical and >>1
for both transistors.
Hence, I REF I C1 I S eVBE1 / VT .
Thus,
I REF
IS

VBE1 VT ln

(1.15)

## Similarly, I O I C 2 I S eVBE 2 / VT which

rearranges to give:
I
VBE 2 VT ln O
IS

(1.15)

IO

1
VBE1 VBE 2
RE

(1.16)

## Hence, by substituting (1.14) and (1.15) into (1.16), the current

relationship of the Widlar current source is:

IO

I
1
VT ln REF
RE
IO

(1.17)

## **Design Example 10.4, Ex. 10.4

**Design Example 10.5, Ex. 10.5
The output resistance looking into the collector of Q2 is given by:
dI O
Ro

dVC 2

## which can be determined by using the small-signal equivalent circuit in

Figure 11(a).
The output resistance looking into the base of Q1 is given by
RO1 r 1

1
ro1 R1 r 2
g m1

RO1 is in series with r 2 , and since RO1 r 2 , the effect of RO1 can be

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## EEEB273/EEEB314 Electronics II - Analog IC Biasing and Active Loads (Part 1)

Figure 11: (a) Small-signal equivalent circuit for determining output resistance of
Widlar current source, (b) simplified equivalent circuit for determining output
resistance, and (c) equivalent circuit after a Norton transformation.

## Therefore, output resistance at the collector of Q2 can be determined from

Figure 11(b) or 11(c) to give:

Vx
RO ro 2 1 RE r 2
Ix

Normally, 1 ro 2 g m , therefore

g m2

1

ro 2

(1.18)

RO ro 2 1 g m 2 RE'

(1.19)

where RE' RE r 2 .
Hence, the output resistance of the Widlar current source is a factor
1 g m2 RE' larger than that of the simple two-transistor current source.
Multitransistor Current Mirrors
The reference transistor VBE voltage can also be applied to multiple
transistors to generate multiple load currents as shown below.

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## EEEB273/EEEB314 Electronics II - Analog IC Biasing and Active Loads (Part 1)

The relationship between each load current and the reference current,
assuming all transistors are matched and VA = , is:
I O1 I O 2 I N

I REF
1 N
1

(1.20)

## The collector of multiple output transistors can be connected together,

changing the load current versus current relationship. An example of such a
circuit is shown in Figure 13.

## Figure 13: Multioutput

transistor current source
(assuming all transistors are
matched and is very large such
that the base currents can be
neglected, I1 = I2 = I3 = IREF ).
Equivalent circuit symbol
of three transistors in
parallel

mirror.

## Obtain several output

currents (IOs) from a
single reference current
IREF.
pnp transistors to source
currents
npn transistors to sink
currents

12

= 3IREF

## EEEB273/EEEB314 Electronics II - Analog IC Biasing and Active Loads (Part 1)

Effect of finite - IO to be less than IREF since IREF supplies all base
currents. It becomes more severe as more transistors are added.

## **Design Example 10.7, Ex. 10.7

Output Voltage Swing
The minimum output voltage, VO (min), of the current mirror influences
the maximum symmetrical output voltage, VOUT , swing of the load
circuit being biased.

VOUT

VO

## Figure 155: A simple amplifier biased with a two-transistor current source.

The minimum output voltage for the two-transistor current source (see
Figure 5):
VO (min) VC 2 V VCE 2 (sat)
(1.21)
where VCE 2 (sat) may be in the order of 0.1 to 0.3 V
For the cascode and Wilson current sources (see Figures 7(a) and
respectively):
VO (min) V VBE VCE (sat)

(1.22)
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## EEEB273/EEEB314 Electronics II - Analog IC Biasing and Active Loads (Part 1)

In this case, VBE VCE (sat) may be in the order of 0.7 to 0.9 V.
Therefore, VO (min) in the cascode and Wilson current sources are higher
compared to the two-transistor circuit.
Note: Increase in VO (min) means reduced maximum output voltage
swing of the load circuit, which is critical in low-power applications.

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## Summary of current source circuits

IO

Twotransistor

Threetransistor

(Figure 5)

(Figure 6)
I REF

I REF
1 2

2
1
1 3

Cascode

Wilson

Widlar

(Figure 7a)

(Figure 9)

(Figure 10)

I REF

I REF

2
1

1 4

I
1
VT ln REF
RE
IO

Multiple
transistor

ro 3
Output
ro 2 1 g m 2 RE r 2
ro 4
ro2
ro2
resistance, RO
2
Finite
2 2
2 2
4
2

error*
*Finite error = discrepancy between IO and IREF since the reference current supplies all base currents.

(Figure 12)
I REF
1 N
1

ro
N

## Problem-Solving Technique: BJT Current Source Circuits

o Sum currents at the various nodes in the circuit to find the relation between the reference current and the bias
current.
o To find the output resistance, place a test voltage at the output node and analyse the small-signal equivalent
circuit. Keep in mind that the reference current is constant, which may make some of the base voltage
constant or at signal ground.

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