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Graphical Analysis of a
BJT Amplifier
Consider again this simple BJT amplifier:

VCC

We note that for this amplifier, the
output voltage is equal to the
collector-to-emitter voltage (
vO (t )  vCE (t ) ).

RC

vO (t )  VO  vo (t )

iC

RB

vCE

+
_

vi (t )

VBB

If we apply KVL to the collector-emitter leg, we find:

VCC  iC RC  vCE  0

.doc 2/13 We can rearrange this to get an expression for the collector current iC in terms of voltage vCE (i.1/2/2017 341482893. iC  f  vCE  ): iC  V 1 vCE  CC RC RC Note this is an equation of a line! iC y =  1 RC vCE m  VCC RC x b + This equation is referred to as the amplifier’s load line. which we can graphically represent as: y  iC b VCC RC m 1 RC x  vCE VCC .e.

and a point on the device (BJT) curve? A: Easy! the values for iC and vCE lie at the point where the two curves intersect! . The value of iC and vCE must lie somewhere along the load line! Exactly where on the load line depends on the device (BJT) relationship between iC and vCE . Recall that this relationship is: iC active saturation The value of iC and vCE must also lie somewhere along this device curve! Q: How can the values for iC and vCE simultaneously be a point on the load line.doc 3/13 The load line provides the circuit relationship (via KVL) between iC and vCE .1/2/2017 341482893.

the collector current iC of a BJT is dependent on the voltage base-to-emitter vBE . the values of iC and vCE depend on the input to the amplifier: v I (t ) VBB  vi (t ) As the voltage v I (t ) changes. For example. we can represent this as: . so will the values iC and vCE . Graphically. resulting in a new BJT relationship (curve) between iC and vCE . as v I (t ) changes. Note.Thus.1/2/2017 341482893. the collector current iC is independent of vCE (we’re ignoring the Early effect)! However.vCE vCE VCC Of course. however. so does vBE . What does change is the BJT relationship between iC and vCE . in active mode.doc 4/13 iC VCC RC iC . that the load line will not change—the slope 1 RC and y-intercept VCC RC are independent of voltage v I (t ) .

the input voltage is simply a constant bias voltage ( v I (t ) VBB ). VI 2 . In this case. The intersection of the two curves in this case define the operating point (bias point. Thus. The collector current and voltage collector-toemitter are likewise DC bias values ( IC and VCE ).1/2/2017 341482893. the BJT iC versus vCE curve will change. VI 3 are three different input voltages such that VI 1 VI 2  VI 3 . Q point) of the amplifier. and its intersection with the amplifier load line will change—iC and vCE will likewise be a function of time! Say that the small-signal input voltage is zero (vo (t )  0 ).doc 5/13 iC v I 3  vI  t3  v I 2  v I  t2  v I 1  v I  t1  vCE where VI 1 . as the input voltage v I (t ) changes with time. .

It appears that we should make VBB (and thus IC ) as large as possible.1/2/2017 341482893. right? A: NO! There is a big problem with making the bias voltage VBB too large—BJT saturation will result ! We can graphically show this unfortunate occurrence: VCC RC IC iC vI VBB (large!) saturation VCE  0.doc 6/13 iC VCC RC Q  po int IC vI VBB vCE VCE VCC Q: I see! We know that a large DC collector current results in a large transconductance gm—a result that is typically required for large voltage gain.2 V vCE VCC .

e. For example.7 V vI VBB (large) vCE VCC A: NO!! There is a big problem with this strategy as well! Remember. recall that the small signal input vi (t ) is an AC signal. then even a small voltage vi can “push” the BJT into saturation mode. but not so large that we push the BJT into saturation. right? VCC RC IC active VCE  0. If we DC bias the amplifier so that it is nearly in saturation..1/2/2017 341482893. meaning that the value of vi (t ) will effectively be negative half of the time and positive the other half. DC ) value is zero. it is the total input voltage that will determine the BJT curve. In other words its time averaged (i.doc 7/13 A BJT in saturation makes a poor amplifier! Q: Oh I see! We need to set bias voltage VBB to be large. .

2 VV CE vCE vCE VCE  vo VCC .doc 8/13 Say then that the magnitude of the small signal input is limited to a value vi : vi (t )  vi So that: vi  vi (t )  vi for all time t and thus: VBB  vi  vI (t ) VBB  vi for all time t Let’s now look at three scenarios for the small-signal input voltage vi : 1) vi  vi 2) vi  0 3) vi  vi The resulting output voltage will of course be different for each case: iC vI VBB  vi VCC RC vI VBB vI VBB  vi  0.1/2/2017 341482893.

and the output signal is not distorted! A: NO!! There is a problem with this too! . Note for this amplifier. so that the value vo is also negative: vo  Avo vi  0 Since the BJT is in saturation during some portion of vi (t ) . the small-signal voltage gain Avo is negative. The output voltage in this case (when v I VBB  vi ) will simply be equal to: vO (t )  0.2 (BJT saturated) as opposed to the ideal value: vO (t ) VCE  vo (BJT active) where vo  Avo vi . the total input voltage ( and thus total vBE) will be too large.1/2/2017 341482893. the amplifier output signal will not look like the input signal— distortion will result! Q: Now I get it! We need to make VBB small. and thus push the BJT into saturation. so that the BJT does not enter saturation.doc 9/13 Look what happened here! If the input small-signal is “large” and positive.

and thus push the BJT into cutoff.e. when v I  VCE  vi ) will simply be equal to: vO (t ) VCC (BJT cutoff) as opposed to the ideal value: vO (t ) VCE  vo (BJT active) . Note the collector current will be zero (iC  0 ) when the BJT is in cutoff! The output voltage in this case (i. the total input voltage ( and thus total vBE) will be too small. iC VCC RC vI VBB  vi vI VBB  vi v CE VCE  vo VCE vI VBB vCE vCE VCC Look what happened here! If the input small-signal is “large” and negative..1/2/2017 341482893.doc 10/13 We can again graphically examine what happens if we make the bias voltage VBB too small.

the small-signal voltage gain is negative. the amplifier output signal will not look like the input signal— distortion will result! Q: Yikes! Is there nothing we can do to avoid signal distortion? A: To get allow for the largest possible (distortion-free) output signal vo (t ) .2 V .1/2/2017 341482893.doc 11/13 where vo  Avo vi . Note if the BJT is in saturation: iC  VCC RC (BJT saturation) vCE  0. Since the BJT is in cutoff during some portion of vi (t ) . so that the value vo is positive. Note for this amplifier. we typically need to bias our BJT such that we are about “half way” between biasing the BJT in saturation and biasing the BJT in cutoff.

biasing “halfway” between saturation and cutoff means biasing such that: VCE  VCC 2 IC  VCC 2RC or equivalently: iC VCC RC VCC Q  po int 2RC vCE VCE  vo VCE  VCC 2 vI VBB  vi vI VBB vI VBB  vi vCE VCC vCE VCE  vo The bias solution above is optimal for this particular amplifier design.1/2/2017 341482893. . if it is in cutoff: iC  0 (BJT cutoff) vCE VCC It is evident that for this particular amplifier.doc 12/13 Whereas. Other amplifier designs will result in other optimal bias designs—it is up to you determine what they are.

doc 13/13 Remember.1/2/2017 341482893.7 V for all time. the total collector current iC (t ) must be greater than zero for all time. . the total voltage vCE (t ) must be larger than 0. Likewise. other wise cutoff (and thus signal distortion) will result. otherwise saturation (and thus signal distortion will result).