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Slew Rate: The previous sections of this chapter have been concerned with the small-signal behavior of feedback amplifiers at high frequencies. However, the behavior of feedback circuits with large input signals (either step inputs or sinusoidal signals) is also of interest, and the effect of frequency compensation on the large-signal, high-frequency performance of feedback amplifiers is now considered. Origin of Slew-Rate Limitations: A common test of the high-frequency, large-signal performance of an amplifier is to apply a step input voltage as shown in Fig. 9.48. This figure shows an op amp in a unity-gain feedback configuration and will be used for purposes of illustration in this development. Assuming the op amp is powered from a single supply between 3 V and ground, the input here is chosen to step from 0.5 V to 2.5 V so that the circuit operates linearly well before and well after the step. Suppose initially that the circuit has a single-pole transfer function given by

and f 0 is the -3-dB frequency. Since the circuit is connected as a voltage follower, the low- frequency gain A will be close to unity. If we assume that this is so, the response of the circuit to this step

Methods of Improving Slew-Rate in Two-Stage Op Amps : In order to examine methods of slew-rate improvement, a more general analysis is required. This can be performed using the circuit of Fig. 9.52, which is a general representation of an op amp circuit. The input stage has a small-signal transconductance and, with a large input voltage, can deliver a maximum current to the next stage. The compensation is shown as the Miller effect using the capacitor C, since this representation describes most two-stage integrated-circuit op amps.

Slew rate =

(9.133)

Improving Slew-Rate in MOS Op Amps : A two-stage Miller-compensated o MOS op amp is shown in Fig. 9.506, and its slew rate is given by (9.127). From the analysis in Section 9.6.2, (9.133) shows that the slew rate can be increased by increasing . On the other hand, if & is fixed, increasing the ratio improves the slew rate. Using (1.180), (9.133) can be rewritten as

This equation shows that the slew rate increases if decreases with I1 constant. In this case, g mI = g m1 decreases. From (9.132), a smaller compensation capacitor can then be used; therefore, the slew rate in (9.127) increases because I1 is unchanged. Equation 9.140 also shows that the slew rate can be increased by increasing I1. Assume that I1 increases by a factor x where x > 1. Then the ratio increases by the factor because gm1 is proportional to . From (9.132), the compensation capacitor must be increased by the factor if is fixed. With these changes, the slew rate in (9.127) becomes

Since x > 1, the slew rate is increased. Alternatively, the ratio of the input stage can be increased by adding degeneration resistors R S in series with the sources of M1 and M 2 to give

Therefore the feedback is not effective and the virtual ground at the negative op-amp input is lost. With the feedback loop broken, the total capacitance seen from the output to ground is

This is the capacitance seen looking from the op-amp output node to ground,

with the connection to the op-amp inverting input replaced with an open circuit. The effective output load capacitance in (9.144) is the same as the output load found when the feedback loop is broken to find the return ratio. For the CMOS op amps considered so far in this section, the slew rate is proportional to a bias current in the op amp. A CMOS op amp with a Class AB input stage can give a slew rate that is not limited by a dc bias current in the op amp. The input voltage is applied between the gates of M1, M 2 and M 3 ,M 4 . Transistors M1 and M 4 act simply as unity-gain source followers to transfer the input voltage to the gates of M6 and M7. Diode- connected transistors M 5 and M8 act as level shifts, which, together with bias current sources I1, set the quiescent Class AB current in M2, M3, M6,and M7. The currents in M3 and M7are delivered to the output via cascode current mirrors M 9 , M 10 , M13, M14 and M11, M12, M15, M16. DD

(9.147)

Appendix 5

Limitations

on

Large-Signal

Sinusoidal

The slew-rate limitations described above can also affect the performance of the circuit when handling large sinusoidal signals at higher frequencies. Consider the circuit of Fig. 9.48 with a large sinusoidal signal applied as shown in Fig. 9.57a. Since the circuit is connected as a voltage follower, the output voltage V o will be forced to follow the V i waveform. The maximum value of dVi/dt occurs as the waveform crosses the axis, and if V i is given by

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