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Gain and linearity testing for precision operational amplifiers

Posted: 21 Oct 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:operational amplifier? linearity testing? precision application? application note?

It is possible to use operational amplifiers for precision applications, even if they are not more linear than 5ppm. Most people cannot hear an amplifier's distortion below 1ppm, even if you cascade 10 of such stages. However, for precision instrumentation, or for high-fidelity audio, it is usually a good idea to select an op-amp with good linearity. Refer to AN-1485 which shows examples of good, moderate, and poor linearity. It shows bipolar and also CMOS amplifiers. Contrary to many opinions, CMOS amplifiers with drain-loaded outputs do not necessarily have inferior linearity versus old bipolar-transistor amplifiers.

Many op amps are very linearas a unity-gain inverter, they often have linearity in the range of 5 to 1 to 0.5 ppm. However, testing for gain linearity is not a standard or well-known test. Test procedures will be shown here, to permit any user to resolve the non-linearity errors.

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