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Rail splitter, from Abraham Lincoln to virtual ground

Posted: 15 Jul 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:rail splitting? op amp? reference voltage? power supply?

Rail splitting is creating an artificial virtual ground as a reference voltage. It is used to set the signal to match the op amp's "sweet spot." An op amp has the most linear- and distortion-free qualities at that sweet spot. Typically, the sweet spot occurs near the center between the single power rail and ground. In the case of a number of signals, the virtual ground can control channel DC errors when multiplexing or switching the signals.

In electronic circuits, the rails are the common power supply and ground connections to all of the components. Many components, such as amplifiers and analog-to-digital converters, require that the signal is biased in order to center it midway between the rails. This is a virtual ground point, and is nicknamed a "rail splitter." In earlier electronic circuits, there were both positive and negative power supplies, so signal biasing was easy?we just used ground as the reference. Typical modern circuits utilize only one power supply.

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