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Trek Application Note

Number 6001

Voltage level shifting


Dr. Maciej A. Noras
Abstract A brief description of voltage shifting circuits.

Introduction
2U

U
U
In applications requiring a unipolar AC voltage sig0
0
nal, the signal may be delivered from a bi-polar
t
t
T
voltage amplifier/generator and repositioned rela-U
tive to a zero volt reference (an earth ground) usT
ing a voltage level shifting circuit. In addition, the
voltage level shifting technique is frequently used
to generate high voltage DC outputs from lower
Figure 2: Shifted signal.
voltage AC sources. The maximum voltage (AC
The steady state current drawn from the AC
or DC) produced at the output of a single stage of
source
(amplifier, for example) follows the depenthe level shifting circuit is nominally equal to the
dency:
peak-to-peak value of the AC signal delivered by
C1 C2 dU
the amplifier/generator.

(1)
I=
C1 + C2 dt
For a sinusoidal AC voltage input

AC voltage shifting

U = U sin (2ft)

(2)

the current is:


An example of an AC voltage shifting circuit diaC1 C2
I=
2fU cos (2ft)
(3)
gram (Villard circuit) is shown in Figure 1. FigC1 + C2
ure 2 shows the input and the output voltage of
The output voltage Uout across the capacitor C2
the circuit. In order to move the voltage signal
is:
toward negative values, it is necessary to reverse
C1
Uout = U
(4)
the diode shown on the schematic in Figure 1. AdC1 + C2
ditionally, if the capacitors C1 and C2 are polar,
they also need to be reversed.

voltage shifting section

C1

C2
amplifier
(AC source)

load

Figure 1: Villard voltage level shifting circuit.

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190 Walnut Street

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Consider the following example:


U=1000 sin (2ft) V;
f=100 Hz;
C1=C2=63 nF.
The maximum current is 20 mA (eq. 3) and the
voltage across the C2 is 1000 V (eq. 4). These
results are shown in Figure 3.
When the capacitor C1 becomes smaller
(C1=31.5 nF), the output voltage value drops (Figure 4) according to equation 4. Current I also decreases, as the total capacitance of the circuit decreased.

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Example

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0408/MAN Rev. 2

page 1 of 5

Trek Application Note

Number 6001

Voltage level shifting


input voltage
voltage, V

2000
1000
0
1000
2000
voltage across C1
voltage, V

2000
1000
0
1000
2000
voltage across C2
voltage, V

2000
1000
0
1000
2000

current, mA

current through the load C2


80
60
40
20
0
20
40
60
80

0.01

0.02

0.03

0.04

C1=63 nF, C2=63 nF, f=100 Hz

0.05
time, s

0.06

0.07

0.08

0.09

0.1

Figure 3: Simulation results for the circuit shown in Figure 1, where f=100 Hz, C1=C2=63 nF.
When considering a choice of capacitors for
the voltage shifting circuit, two factors have to
be taken into account: total capacitance of C1
C1C2
and C2 connected in series( C1+C2
), and the ratio
of a capacitive divider formed by both capacitors
C1
). It is important to pay attention on the volt( C1+C2
age rating of the capacitors.
The frequency of the input voltage signal also influences choice of capacitors. For example, if the
frequency is changed from 100 Hz to 1 kHz, the
current drawn from the source multiplies by the
factor of 10 (Figure 5). Capacitor values have to
be lowered by the factor of 10 to get back to the
20 mA current level.

DC voltage generation

By combining several stages of the basic circuit


from Figure 1, a DC high voltage signal can be obtained. Figure 7 presents a two stage DC voltage
multiplier generating positive output DC voltage.
A similar, two stages negative DC voltage circuit
is shown in Figure 8.

+ D.C.
amplifier
(AC source)

The output voltage Uout from the capacitive divider is maximized for C1>>C2. For example, let
C1=12,000 nF and C2=1 nF. Results of a simulation with these C1 and C2 values are shown in
Figure 6.

C
D

Figure 7: Positive voltage multiplier.

TREK, INC. 190 Walnut Street Lockport, NY 14094 Tel: (716) 438-7555
Call: 1 800 FOR TREK FAX: (716) 201-1804
Copyright 2013 TREK, INC.

Email: sales@trekinc.com Web: www.trekinc.com


0408/MAN Rev. 2

page 2 of 5

Trek Application Note

Number 6001

Voltage level shifting


input voltage
voltage, V

2000
1000
0
1000
2000
voltage across C1
voltage, V

2000
1000
0
1000
2000
voltage across C2
voltage, V

2000
1000
0
1000
2000

current, mA

current through the load C2


80
60
40
20
0
20
40
60
80

0.01

0.02

0.03

0.04

C1=31.5 nF, C2=63 nF, f=100 Hz

0.05
time, s

0.06

0.07

0.08

0.09

0.1

Figure 4: Simulation results for the circuit shown in Figure 1, where f=100 Hz, C1=31.5 nF, C2=63 nF.

D
- D.C.

amplifier
(AC source)

n * 2U

2U

Figure 8: Negative voltage multiplier.


U
0

-U
T

Figure 9: DC multiplier signal.


The number of stages that can be used in this
kind of design is limited by current capabilities of

TREK, INC. 190 Walnut Street Lockport, NY 14094

Tel: (716) 438-7555

Call: 1 800 FOR TREK FAX:(716) 201-1804 E-mail: sales@trekinc.com


Copyright 2013 TREK, INC.

0408/MAN Rev. 2

Web: www.trekinc.com
page 3 of 5

Trek Application Note

Number 6001

Voltage level shifting


input voltage
voltage, V

2000
1000
0
1000
2000
voltage across C1
voltage, V

2000
1000
0
1000
2000
voltage across C2
voltage, V

2000
1000
0
1000
2000

current, mA

current through the load C2


800
600
400
200
0
200
400
600
800

0.001

0.002

0.003

0.004

C1=63 nF, C2=63 nF, f=1000 Hz

0.005
time, s

0.006

0.007

0.008

0.009

0.01

Figure 5: Simulation results for the circuit shown in Figure 1, where f=1000 Hz, C1=C2=63 nF.
the circuit. The DC output voltage has an AC voltage ripple U (Figure 10) given by equation [1]:

n * 2U

no load
U
with load

U =

I n (n + 1)

,
fC
4

(5)

T=1/f

Figure 10: Voltage ripple and voltage drop.


where I is the load current and n is the number of
stages. A voltage drop U (Figure 10) due to the
load can be calculated using formula [1]:

I
U =
fC

2n3 n
3 6

TREK, INC. 190 Walnut Street

Lockport, NY 14094

Call: 1 800 FOR TREK FAX:(716) 201-1804


Copyright 2013 TREK, INC.

(6)

References

[1] E. Kuffel, W. S. Zaengl, and J. Kuffel. High


Voltage Engineering: Fundamentals. Newnes,
2 edition, 2000.

Tel:

E-mail: sales@trekinc.com
0408/MAN Rev. 2

(716) 438-7555
Web: www.trekinc.com
page 4 of 5

Trek Application Note

Number 6001

Voltage level shifting

voltage across C1
2000

1000

1000

voltage, V

voltage, V

input voltage
2000

0
1000

0
1000

2000

2000
voltage across C2

current through the load C2

1000

current, mA

voltage, V

2000

0
1000
2000

8
6
4
2
0
2
4
6
8

current, mA

current through C1
8
6
4
2
0
2
4
6
8

0.02
0.04
0.06
0.08
time, s
C1=12000 nF, C2=1 nF, f=100 Hz

0.1

Figure 6: Simulation results for f=1000 Hz, C1=12000 nF, C2=1 nF.

TREK, INC. 190 Walnut Street

Lockport, NY 14094 T Tel: (716) 438-7555

Call: 1 800 FOR TREK FAX:(716) 201-1804 E-mail: sales@trekinc.com


Copyright 2013 TREK, INC.

0408/MAN Rev. 2

Web: www.trekinc.com
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