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multiplier

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An analog multiplier is a circuit with an output that is proportional to the product of two inputs:

where K is a constant value whose dimension is the inverse of a voltage. In general we might

expect that the two inputs can be both positive or negative, and so can be the output. Anyway,

most of the implementations work only if both inputs are strictly positive: this is not such a limit

because we can shift the input and the output in order to have a core working only with positive

signals but external interfaces working with any polarity (within certain limits according to the

particular configuration).

Two possible implementations will be shown. Both will be using operational amplifiers, but the

first one will use diodes to get the needed relationships, the second one MOSFET transistors.

As known, using operational amplifiers and diodes it's quite easy to obtain the logarithm and the

exponential of a certain input. Remembering the property of logarithms:

we can multiply two signals first calculating their logarithm, then summing them and finally

calculating the exponential of such a sum. From the point of view of mathematics, such an

approach works as long as the two inputs are positive, because the logarithm of a negative

number does not exist (in the real domain). We'll see that this limit is valid for the actual circuit

as well, even if the reason will be more "physical". The block diagram of this implementation is

the following:

If we simply append the circuits for logarithm, sum and exponential we get the following

configuration:

for a quick overview on the behavior of the circuit, we'll assume that all the resistors R have the

same value. It is obviously possible to use different values to get different results, but we will not

consider it here. Let us use the following notation for the relationship between current and

voltage on a diode:

where

is the threshold voltage and Is is the current flowing through the diode if it's

inverse-polarized. If we analyze the circuit without introducing any approximation we get:

as it is clear, in the output there is the multiplication we were looking for, but there is another

term we don't want. It can't be simply considered an error because it might be as great as the

multiplication element, so it has to be removed. Anyway this is an easy task, since it is necessary

only to add another stage to sum exactly

, so we will have no error. The complete

multiplier circuit is the following:

that's exactly what we wanted. The circuit works as long as the following relationship is verified:

will be a small voltage, we are

allowed to rewrite the relation simply as

. From the mathematical point of view this

is due to the fact that we can't calculate the logarithm of a negative number, from a physical point

of view the limit is due to the fact that we can obtain only very small currents (almost zero)

inverse-polarizing the diodes.

In practical applications, the diodes are replaced with BJTs connected so to work like a diode.

Since it is possible to use a MOSFET transistor as a voltage controlled resistor, we can use this

feature to create an analog multiplier. Let us refer to picture on the right. With the letter we

indicate the different pins: Drain, Source and Gate. MOS are symmetrical devices, so we could

replace the drain with the source without affecting the behavior of the device. Anyway we'll call

source the lowest voltage pin and drain the point with the highest voltage. When the voltage

between gate and source is less than the voltage between drain and source, i.e.

, the

relationship between current and voltage is the following:

assuming we can always use this relationship, the analog multiplier configuration is the

following:

where source and drain of both devices are pointed out. If and

are positive, then the

sources will remain there because that points are virtually connected to ground by the operational

amplifiers. The current flowing through

is defined: one side of the resistor has the voltage ,

the other one is grounded. That same current will flow through the MOS

, thus defining the

voltage

. The current is given by:

but

and

where

and

we have:

. Replacing we get:

and this is what we wanted. The difference between the previous configurations are:

in the calculations for the diode configuration we did not introduce any approximation,

while the MOS configuration we did.

In other words, the diode implementation is more complicated but it works fine for a wider range

on inputs.

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