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RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 102

5 Rectification and Amplification


DIODES, TRANSISTORS AND VALVES
The humble electric light bulb is such a commonplace item that we take it for granted.
Yet its development marked a turning point in human societal development. No
longer were we constrained by daylight hours. Although fire, the candle and later, gas
lighting had enabled people to extend their daytime activities, the light bulb (and the
establishment of a statewide system for providing electricity) virtually eliminated
human dependence on daylight.
The development of the light bulb also signalled the birth of electronics, an area of
science which has transformed the world in which we live. The radio, TV, mobile
phone and desktop computer are but a few examples of developments in electronics.
Electronic technology led to the development of the neuromuscular stimulators used
by physiotherapists and also enabled scientists to better study the workings of the
human body, in particular the nervous and neuromuscular systems.

So what is so special about an electric light bulb, that it can lay claim to the birth of
electronics? A common electric light bulb consists of a filament mounted inside an
evacuated glass envelope. The filament is a coil of resistance wire, usually tungsten.
The glass bulb has virtually no air inside as oxygen in the air would react with the
tungsten at high temperatures, forming tungsten oxide, which is an insulator so the
filament would no longer conduct. Oxidation is prevented by the vacuum and when Electric light bulbs are very
current from the mains or a suitable power source is passed through the tungsten inefficient. More than 80% of
filament It heats up and glows. Heat and light energy are produced at the expense of the electrical energy is
electrical energy. dissipated in the form of heat.
Less than 20% of the energy
Heat and light production by a metal are fundamentally related to the movement of is released as light.
electrons. The greater the movement energy (principally of the electrons: the atoms
are more locked in place in the crystal structure), the greater the heat energy and the
greater the emission of light. Light is emitted whenever electrons are accelerated
and, in the case of a light globe, electrons are continually accelerated when a current

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 103

flows through the filament.


Acceleration of electrons at red-hot temperatures and above, results in emission of
electrons from the surface of the hot filament. The phenomenon of electron emission Some electrons are given so
accompanying heating is given the name thermionic emission. The relationship much energy as a result of
between heat, light and movement will be considered further in later chapters. For collision that they can escape
the moment consider the electrons emitted by a glowing filament. In the normal run the confines of the metal
of things these electrons, having left behind positively charged ions from the parent surface.
metal, will be attracted back to the filament. The filament of a light globe is thus
continually emitting and recapturing electrons in the process of emitting light.

If heat and light production were the only physical phenomena associated with light
bulbs then this, in itself, would be justification for their importance. the history of
electronics would, however, would be quite different to the one we know. Electronics
has its origin in a device based upon a simple light globe and invented by the English
physicist J. A. Fleming in 1904. The device is a valve diode. Fleming's diode
resembled an electric light bulb with an extra part, a metal electrode called the plate,
included inside the glass envelope. The construction is illustrated in figure 5.1(a).

By including the plate Fleming was able to capture some of' the electrons emitted by
the filament. This is achieved by making the plate positively charged so that
electrons are attracted to the plate more strongly than to the filament. Thus the diode
allows a flow of current with electrons moving from filament to plate, providing the
plate is sufficiently positive with respect to the filament.

Notice, however, that a diode is asymmetric. Electrons can move from filament to
plate but not from plate to filament even when the filament is made positive with
respect to the plate. This is because the plate is not heated and so does not
spontaneously emit electrons. The diode allows current to flow in one direction but
not the other.
Valve diodes require the plate to be at a potential some tens of volts higher than the
filament for conduction to occur. Semiconductor diodes (figure 5.1(b)), their modern
day counterparts, require potential differences of only a few tenths of a volt tor
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 104

conduction to occur and their energy efficiency is much higher i.e. less
electrical energy is dissipated as heat.
Fleming's diode was an extremely important development but the next step
was even more important. By adding a 'grid' (actually a fine wire grid or mesh)
between the filament and metal plate of a diode a device which could amplify
electrical signals was invented. The development of this device (the triode
valve) is generally credited to an American, Lee de Forest. This was in 1906.
The construction of a triode valve is shown in figure 5.2. The mechanism by
which it amplifies electrical signals will be described shortly.
The triode valve, because of its ability to amplify very weak signals from a
microphone and then apply them to a transmitter, started a revolution in
science and technology. Although transmissions of signals across the Atlantic
Ocean had been made by Marconi in 1901 these transmissions strained to the
limit the detection facilities available. With amplifying valves it became
possible to transmit and receive over much greater distances and even to
amplify the signals so that they could be clearly heard without headphones,
through a loudspeaker!
By 1920 the valve had transformed wireless transmission from an extension of
electrical and telegraph practice into a new and fascinating technology.

In the 1940's when valves were a familiar part of the fields of home
entertainment, communications and science the growing pressures of
developments in science and technology had pointed up the limitations of the
valve - high power consumption, large size and excessive heat generation.
These factors became more and more critical as scientists and engineers
attempted to apply electronics to more sophisticated tasks. The first
computers were constructed using hundreds of valves, fully occupying large
rooms and requiring elaborate ventilation and cooling systems in addition to
enormous quantities of electrical power.

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 105

Fortunately science again came to the rescue with the development in 1947 of the
first functional transistor. Developed by physicists Shockley, Brittain and Bardeen the
device revolutionized future developments in technology. The computers could be
drastically reduced in size and power consumption. Printed circuit boards became a
possibility so resistors, capacitors and inductors were miniaturized to suit. The
computer occupying a large room could now be assembled as a device the size of a
filing cabinet.
More was still to come - the pressure was on for smaller and lighter components to
build the apparatus used in navigation, guidance and communication in aeroplanes,
missiles and satellites - to perform increasingly complex scientific tasks.
Engineers quickly realized that transistors could be scaled down in size to fit many
devices in the same volume which one previously occupied - they could even be
interconnected in the one device in the kind of circuit arrangement equipment
engineers might require. The same fabrication techniques could be adapted to
produce resistive or capacitive interconnections between the transistors -
microscopic versions of the familiar resistors and capacitors used in everyday
circuits. Thus was the first integrated circuit (IC) produced. Early IC's, introduced in
1964 contained up to about 10 components in one tiny package. By 1968 this figure
had risen to about 500. Today it numbers in the millions. Nowadays, large scale
integration (LSI) permits many hundreds of transistors and diodes together with the
necessary interconnections of components to fit into a package not much bigger than
a postage stamp.

A good example of LSI technology is the pocket calculator. Because they are based
upon one or at most a few large scale integrated circuits, they can be cheaply mass
produced. Most of the fabrication, testing and assembly is performed by automated
apparatus under the control of minicomputers, themselves the product of IC
technology. Many more examples of the impact of modern electronics are to be found
in everyday life - digital wrist watches and clocks, the desktop computer and video
games are a few which spring to mind. Watch for others - they are evident in virtually
all aspects of life, art and science.
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 106

DIODES AND RECTIFICATION


Valve diodes are rarely used nowadays. They have been superseded by
semiconductor diodes, their solid-state equivalent. Semiconductor diodes are
smaller, more efficient and generate less heat. The first semiconductors were
fabricated from crystals of germanium. Nowadays silicon is the semiconductor of
choice because of its superior physical properties. Both germanium and silicon are
elements which fall midway between the good conductors and the good insulators.
We now consider the properties of a silicon diode but you should bear in mind that
other kinds of diode (selenium or germanium diodes, vacuum tube diodes) have
similar though not identical properties. In addition there are diodes specifically
tailored for somewhat different roles to those we will examine in this section (zener
diodes and light emitting diodes are examples). These have distinct circuit symbols
of their own which are variations on the normal diode symbol. Figure 5.3 shows the
circuit symbol of a simple diode. Note the naming of the different sides of the diode.

The circuit shown in Figure 5.4 can be used to demonstrate the conduction
properties of a diode. With the circuit arrangement shown we would find that the
potential difference across the diode is about 0.7 volt and the current flowing about
110 mA (0.11 amp).
The resistance of the diode, calculated using Ohm's
law, is thus
V 0.7
R= = = 6.4 ohms
I 0.11

Figure 5.4
Circuit for demonstrating the conduction
properties of a diode

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 107

This arrangement, with the anode (the arrow in the circuit symbol) connected to the
positive terminal of the power supply and the cathode (the straight line) to the
negative terminal, is called forward biasing of the diode. When forward biased, the
diode has a very low resistance.
With the diode reversed in the circuit, that is anode and
cathode reversed, the diode is reverse biased. The
voltage across the diode would be measured as 12 volts
and the current about 0.5 microamp or 5 x 10-7 amp - too
small to register on most ammeters. For all intents and
purposes, the reverse current flow is negligible, meaning
that the resistance is close to infinite.

The diode resistance calculated from the measurements


quoted is
V 12
R= = = 24 x 106 Ω = 2.4 x 107 Ω or 24 MΩ.
I 5 x 10-7

An ideal diode has zero resistance in the forward direction (when forward biased)
and an infinite resistance in the reverse direction (when reverse biased). Silicon
diodes come reasonably close to his ideal.
Half Wave Rectification
This unique conduction property of diodes makes them
well suited to the task of' rectifying alternating current, that
is converting alternating current to direct current. The
circuit shown in figure 5.5 illustrates one way of doing
this.

Figure 5.5
Rectification by a diode
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 108

The AC source produces a sinusoidal alternating voltage, as shown in figure 5.6(a).


This means that the diode will be forward biased when the voltage is positive i.e.
during the positive half-cycles then reverse biased during the negative half-cycles.
Only when the diode is forward biased will current flow through the resistor so a
graph of current in the resistor will resemble figure 5.6(b). A graph of potential
difference across the resistor would also resemble 5.6(b).

Figure 5.6
(a) sinusoidal alternating voltage
produced by the AC source in
figure 5.5 and (b) the resulting
current flow through the resistor, R.

The current through the resistor is DC: not like the DC produced by a battery to be
sure, but DC nonetheless because the current flow is only in one direction. A more
accurate description of this half-wave rectified current would be pulsed DC.

By placing a capacitor in parallel with the resistor as shown in figure 5.7


we can 'smooth' the pulsed DC to provide a more even flow of current.

Figure 5.8 shows the waveforms which are obtained when different size
capacitors are connected in parallel with the resistor, R.

Figure 5.7
Smoothing rectified AC with a capacitor

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 109

As the capacitor is made


larger the waveform
becomes more like the
straight line graph
obtained with a battery.
The voltage becomes
more nearly constant.
The reason that the
capacitor has this effect is
that the capacitor stores
electrical energy. While
the diode is conducting,
current will flow through
the resistor and at the
same time the capacitor
will charge to the peak
voltage of the waveform.
When the diode ceases to
conduct the capacitor will Figure 5.8
discharge through the resistor (we discussed capacitor discharging in chapter 2). Smoothing using a capacitor.
The rate at which the capacitor discharges depends on the size of the capacitor and The effect of different size
also the resistance through which it discharges. The larger the capacitance and the capacitors.
larger the resistance, the slower the rate of discharge will be and the smoother will
be the waveform.
If we replaced the resistor in figure 5.7 with a higher value resistor then the
waveforms shown in figure 5.8 would be obtained with capacitors of lower value.
Conversely, if the capacitors remained the same, smoother waveforms would result.
The amount of smoothing is determined by the RC time constant (chapter 2). For
mains supplied electricity, where the AC frequency is 50 Hz, the time between pulses
in figure 5.8(a) is 1/50th sec or 20 ms. For efficient smoothing, the RC time constant
should be greater than 20 ms. Thus if R is large, meaning that the amount of current
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 110

drawn from the supply is small, C can be relatively small. If R is small and a lot of
current is drawn from the supply, C would need to be relatively large to produce
adequate smoothing.
Full Wave Rectification
The half wave rectifier circuit is very simple but rather inefficient. Only half of' the
original AC waveform is being used. The power supply is virtually switched off for half
the time as no current flows during negative half cycles. The full wave rectifier circuit
shown in figure 5.9 is a more efficient rectifier. The arrangement is called a bridge
rectifier.
The positioning of diodes ensures that current will always
flow through the resistor in one direction and both halves of
the AC waveform are used.

Consider what happens when terminal A of the AC supply is


positive - that is, on the positive half-cycle of the waveform.
Current flows through diode 2 but not diode 1 (because of
their polarity). It then flows through the resistor through diode
3 and back to terminal B of the transformer. It can not flow
through diodes 1 or 4 because their opposite terminals are
at a higher potential - remember there is a relatively large
potential difference across the resistor.

On the negative half cycle of the waveform, terminal A is at a


lower potential than terminal B. Current flows from B through
diode 4 through the resistor in the same direction as before,
through diode 1 to terminal A. Current can not flow through Figure 5.9
diodes 2 or 3 as the voltage is higher at the opposite full-wave rectification using
terminal. The net result is that the current through the a diode bridge.
resistor or potential difference across the resistor resembles
figure 5.10(a).

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 111

Full-wave rectified AC can be smoothed with capacitors in the same way as the Figure 5.10
half-wave rectified AC. A smooth waveform is more easily obtained with the full-wave Current flow through the
rectifier because the capacitor is recharged 100 times per second rather than 50 resistor in figure 5.9 (a) without
times per second with half-wave rectified AC. Compare figure 5.10(b) with the a capacitor and (b) with a
half-wave rectified waveform of figure 5.6(c). The R and C values are the same but capacitor as in figure 5.9(c)
the waveform in 5.10(b) is smoother because the pulses of rectified current are
closer together.

AMPLIFICATION
The Triode Valve
The triode valve (figure 5.2) was the first electronic device capable of amplification. If
a relatively high voltage is applied to the plate, electrons emitted by the filament will
be attracted to, and accelerated towards, the plate, so a current will flow. The grid can Athough the grid, when
control the flow of current. If a (relatively small) negative voltage is applied to the grid, positive, attracts electrons,
electrons will be repelled and the flow of current will be reduced. If a small positive most shoot straigh through
voltage is applied to the grid, electrons will be attracted and the flow of current will be
increased. The grid of the valve is placed closer to the filament than to the plate, with the empty spaces in the grid
the result that very small changes in grid voltage produce very large changes in the and add to the current flowing
current through the valve. The valve thus functions as an amplifier. between filament and plate.

If a small alternating voltage is applied to the grid, the result is a large fluctuation in
the current flowing through the valve. Again the small voltage applied to the grid
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 112

results in a large change in the current flowing through the triode. If a resistor is
connected in series with the triode, the large fluctuations in current through the triode
produce a large change in the potential difference across the resistor. A small
alternating voltage applied to the grid produces large fluctuations in the voltage
across the resistor. Thus the small signal is amplified.
The Transistor
The transistor is the semiconductor equivalent of the triode valve. It is used today in
preference to valves in almost all electrical equipment, either in the form of a discrete
component or as a part of an integrated circuit. A transistor has no filament and
hence no heating requirements, is much smaller than a valve and consumes less
power. It is more suited to low power applications, and so is used almost exclusively
in electronic stimulators and many other pieces of apparatus.
Figure 5.11 shows a transistor and its circuit symbol. The transistor (like the triode
valve) has three terminals - called the collector, base and emitter (abbreviated c, b
and e in figure 5.11). The names were given to indicate that the emitter 'emits'
electrons which are 'received' or collected by the collector. The base controls the flow
of current between emitter and collector. The arrow in the circuit symbol for the
transistor is used in the same way as for a diode (figure 5.3). It points in the direction
of easy current flow. The base-emitter junction in fact behaves just like a diode: the
resistance to current flow in the direction of the arrow is very low, the resistance in the
opposite direction is extremely high.
Figure 5.11
The resistance between collector and emitter can vary from very low to very high (a) a transistor and (b) its
depending on the current flowing between base and emitter. This 'variable circuit symbol
resistance' property gives the transistor its name. Transistor is an abbreviation of
trans-resistor.
The current flowing between the collector and the emitter is directly proportional to the
base-emitter current. Thus if the base to emitter current is zero, the collector to
emitter current is also zero. If a small current flows from base to emitter, a larger
current can flow between the collector and the emitter. The collector current is always

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 113

many multiples of the base current. The ratio (collector current/base current) is called
the current gain (or amplification) of the transistor. The amplification of the transistor
depends on how the transistor has been made, its size and other factors. Typical
values of current gain lie in the range 50 to 500.

In other words the resistance of' the transistor between collector and emitter
decreases in proportion to the base current. As the base current is made greater the
collector to emitter resistance decreases so that the collector current increases in
proportion to the base current. The transistor is thus a very good current amplifier - if
we pass a certain amount of current through the base-emitter junction a much larger
current will flow from collector to emitter.
Operational Amplifiers
It would be unusual nowadays to find a piece of electronic
equipment built entirely from discrete components. Integrated
circuits are now produced in huge numbers using automated
fabrication techniques and this has reduced their cost to a point
where it is, more often than not, cheaper to use one integrated
circuit in applications where previously several individual
transistors were used.
One of the most common integrated circuits is the operational
amplifier or op-amp for short. The operational amplifier is
comprised of many transistors, resistors and capacitors
fabricated in one tiny package with the components
interconnected to produce an amplifier of very high gain. By
adding a few external components the op-amp can be adapted
to suit a variety of particular applications. Figure 5.12
(a) an integrated circuit containing
Figure 5.12 shows an integrated circuit which contains four, four operational amplifiers and
independent operational amplifiers alongside the circuit symbol (b) the circuit symbol for an
for a single operational amplifier. operational amplifier.
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 114

All operational amplifiers require a power supply. For simplicity, this is not shown in
figure 5.12. Of the 14 pins on the IC shown in figure 5.12, twelve are used for
connection to the four op-amps and the remaining two are used for connection to a
power supply.
The operational amplifier has two inputs, the inverting input (labelled -) and the non-
inverting input (labelled +). When a signal is applied to the inverting input the output An op-amp amplifies the
is a much amplified and inverted version of the input signal. Signals applied to the potential difference between
non-inverting input are amplified without being inverted. If the same signal is applied the inverting and non-inverting
to both inputs, the output is zero. inputs.

The voltage amplification or gain of an op-amp is very high, typically in the range 106
to 1014. More often than not such high gains are not required in practical electronic
circuits. The gain is easily reduced by adding a few external resistors.
Figure 5.13 shows a practical op-amp circuit which acts as an inverting
amplifier. Notice that we have again omitted the power supply connections for
simplicity. The circuit is arranged so that signals are applied to the inverting
input via resistor R1. The non-inverting input is connected to ground (earthed).
A resistor (R2 ) connects from the output, back to the inverting input. This
resistor will allow some of the output signal to feed back into the input. Note
that the output is inverted with respect to the input. This means that the signal
fed back will tend to cancel the input and so reduce both the input and output
of the op-amp. The principle being used here is that of negative feedback.
The gain (G) of the amplifier shown in figure 5.13 is given by the formula
R2
G =
R1 Figure 5.13
For example, if R2 is 20 kΩ and R1 is 4 kΩ , the gain would be 20/4 = 5. An inverting amplifier.
Negative feedback can be used to reduce the gain of an amplifier to any
desired value. For the circuit shown in figure 5.13, if the feedback resistor (R2)
is one hundred times as big as the input resistor (R1 ) the gain is set at 100
times. If, instead, the feedback resistor was ten times as big as the input

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 115

resistor (R1) the gain would be 10 times.


The advantage of using external resistors and negative feedback is that the op-amp
is then a general purpose device. Instead of having to produce a multiplicity of
different op-amps, each with a particular gain, manufacturers need only produce one
device which can be tailored to suit any particular application.
An alternative amplifier arrangement is shown in figure 5.14. This shows a
non-inverting amplifier. In this circuit negative feedback is once again used to set the
gain.
The input signal is applied to the non-inverting input and the inverting input is
connected to ground by a resistor (R1 ). The inverting input cannot be connected
directly to ground otherwise all the feedback current would flow to ground and not into
the inverting input: there would be no feedback.
The gain (G) of this circuit is given by the formula
R2
G = 1 +
R1
Thus if R2 is 50 kΩ and R1 is 2 kΩ, the gain is 1 + 50/2 = 26. If the 50 kΩ resistor Figure 5.14
was decreased to 10 kΩ the gain would be reduced to 1 + 10/2 = 6. A non-inverting amplifier.
Notice that although different inputs are used for the signal to be amplified with
inverting and non-inverting amplifiers, feedback is always applied to the inverting
input to produce negative feedback and reduce the gain to a value determined by the
ratio of two resistors. If the feedback was applied to the non-inverting input we would
have positive feedback and the amplifier would be unstable. Most of us have
experienced the effect of positive feedback when a microphone is moved too close to
the loudspeaker of a public address system or the volume control is advanced too
far. The circuit becomes unstable and an unpleasant howl is generated which can
quickly damage the loudspeaker and/or amplifier and/or listener's ears!
Used properly and carefully positive feedback can be of advantage in electronic
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 116

circuits. We will consider an example later. As a general rule, however, positive


feedback is not used in circuits whose sole purpose is to amplify.
PRODUCTION OF ALTERNATING CURRENT
In chapter 2 we saw that a resonant circuit, consisting of
an inductor and a capacitor connected in parallel, has a
natural (resonant) frequency which can be calculated
using the formula

If electrical energy (i.e. a pulse of current) is applied to


the circuit, it resonates. That is, current flows
backwards and forwards around the circuit and this
alternating current has a particular frequency, the
resonant frequency. As noted in chapter 2, by
appropriate choice of the capacitor and inductor a
resonant circuit can be made to generate any frequency
of sine wave. A resonant circuit alone is not sufficient,
however, to generate a sustained oscillation.

To produce a continuous, steady alternating current we


must arrange for the resonant circuit to be continuously
supplied with energy to overcome the losses in the
components and keep it oscillating. By use of an
amplifier and positive feedback we can provide this
energy.
The circuit alongside shows one way of generating
sustained oscillations using an operational amplifier
with positive feedback.

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 117

L1 and C1 form the resonant circuit and L2 is an extra inductor in close proximity to L1.
The combination of L1 and L2 is, of course, a transformer. The oscillating current in
L 1 will induce a current in L2 . The current induced in L2 produces an AC potential
difference between the two input terminals of the op-amp. The output of the op-amp,
which is an AC signal which is in synchronization with the AC in the resonant circuit,
is fed back to the resonant circuit through R and this compensates for the natural
energy loss and so keeps the resonant circuit oscillating.
A problem with this circuit is that it is unstable. If the amount of feedback is too
small, the oscillations will die-out. If the amount of feedback is too large, the
oscillations will increase out of control. In practice it is impossible to have precisely
the right amount of feedback to generate a steady, sustained oscillation.

The problem is overcome by using a


voltage controlled amplifier whose gain
is controlled by negative feedback.
Figure 5.15 shows how this is
achieved.

The AC potential difference across the


resonant circuit is rectified and
smoothed to produce a DC voltage
which is directly proportional to the AC
signal. This DC voltage is used to
control the gain of the op-amp. If the
AC signal increases, the DC voltage
applied to the op-amp increases and
its gain is reduced. This reduces the
amount of feedback and the AC signal
is reduced. If the AC signal decreases,
the DC voltage applied to the op-amp
decreases and its gain is increased. Figure 5.15
This increases the amount of feedback A circuit for producing steady
and the AC signal is increased. In this continuous AC
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 118

way the AC signal is prevented from either decreasing or increasing appreciably.


Piezoelectric Crystal Oscillators
As indicated in chapter 2, LC resonant positive feedback
circuits tend to drift slightly in frequency
due to factors such as ageing and
temperature change. When extreme R piezoelectric
frequency stability is needed, crystal
piezoelectric crystals are used. These
crystals have the property that when a voltage
potential difference is applied to their rectifier
opposite sides, the crystal resonates controlled with
amplifier output
mechanically. When included in the smoothing
circuit the crystal only permits current to
flow when the frequency of the current
is equal to the natural frequency of
oscillation of the crystal.
In practice crystal resonators consist of negative feedback
a quartz wafer between two electrodes.
The physical dimensions of the crystal
determine the resonant frequency and
if the crystal is maintained at a constant Figure 5.16
temperature a very high order of A circuit for producing stable
frequency stability can be obtained. high frequency AC using a
piezoelectric crystal
Figure 5.16 shows a suitable circuit for the production of stable, high frequency
AC using a piezoelectric crystal. The LC resonant circuit of figure 5.15 is
replaced by a piezoelectric crystal which is connected directly to the voltage
controlled amplifier.
A circuit using a piezoelectric crystal can also be made to produce rectangular
pulses over an extremely wide range of pulse durations and repetition rates.

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 119

Extremely short pulse durations are required for computing and other applications.
For reaction testing in electrotherapy, the shortest duration in use would not normally
be less than 10 microseconds. For muscle therapy the pulse widths in use might lie
in the range 20 microseconds up to a few seconds.
EXERCISES
1 (a) Draw the circuit symbol for a semiconductor diode. Include arrows to
show the directions of high current flow (low resistance) and low current
flow (high resistance).
(b) What is meant by the terms 'forward bias' and 'reverse bias' of a diode?
State typical values for the resistance of a semiconductor diode when
forward biased and reverse biased.

2 The circuit below is used to convert AC from the mains to DC of lower voltage.

(a) Draw a graph of the potential difference across the 1 kΩ resistor versus
time.
(b) Why does this graph represent DC and not AC?
(c) How would the graph be changed if the diode was connected into the
circuit with its terminals reversed?
(d) Describe (with the aid of graphs) the effect of connecting different size
capacitors in parallel with the resistor.
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 120

3 The circuit shown below is used to convert AC from the mains to DC of lower
voltage.

(a) Draw a graph of potential difference across the I kΩ resistor versus time.
(b) In what way is this circuit more efficient than that shown in question 2?
4 Consider the circuit shown in question 3 above.
(a) Draw graphs to show the effect of different size capacitors connected in
parallel to the 1 kΩ resistor.
(b) What is the advantage of full-wave rectification compared to half wave
rectification as regards the size of capacitor needed to smooth the rectified
waveform?
(c) Draw graphs to show the effect of removing one of the diodes from the
circuit.

5 Consider an operational amplifier integrated circuit.


(a) Draw a circuit diagram for an inverting amplifier with a gain of 20.
(b) describe two ways by which the gain of the amplifier in (a) above could be
increased to 50.

RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 121

6 Figure 5.14 shows a circuit diagram for a non-inverting amplifier.


(a) What would be the gain of this circuit if resistor R2 is 50 kΩ and R1 is 10
kΩ?
(b) What value resistor would need to be used instead of the 50 kΩ resistor tor
a gain of 8?
7 What is meant by the term 'positive feedback'? Why does positive feedback
produce instability?

8 Consider the following amplifier circuits.

(a) Which is the inverting amplifier? Which is the non-inverting amplifier?


(b) What is the gain (amplification) of each circuit?
(c) If the 4 kΩ resistor was replaced by a 1 kΩ resistor, what would be the new
value of the gain of each circuit?
(d) Explain, in terms of positive and negative feedback, the arrangement of
resistors in each circuit.

9 The circuit shown in figure 5.15 can be used to produce continuous sinusoidal
RECTIFICATION AND AMPLIFICATION 122

alternating current.
(a) Explain why positive feedback is needed in this circuit. How is positive
feedback produced?
(b) Why is negative feedback needed? Explain how negative feedback is
achieved.
10 Under what circumstances would the circuit shown in figure 5.16 be preferred to
that shown in figure 5.15?