### AN-581: Biasing and Decoupling Op Amps in Single Supply Applications (Rev. 0)

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AN-581
APPLICATION NOTE
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Biasing and Decoupling Op Amps
in Single Supply Applications
by Charles Kitchin
SINGLE OR DUAL SUPPLY?
Battery-powered op amp applications such as those
found in automotive and marine equipment have only a
single available power source. Other applications, such
as computers, may operate from the ac power lines but
still have only a single polarity power source, such as
5 V or 12 V dc. Therefore, it is often a practical necessity
to power op amp circuits from a single polarity supply.
But single supply operation does have its drawbacks: it
requires additional passive components in each stage
and, if not properly executed, can lead to serious instability problems.
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH RESISTOR BIASING
Single supply applications have inherent problems that
are not usually found in dual supply op amp circuits. The
fundamental problem is that an op amp is a dual supply
device and so some type of biasing, using external components, must be used to center the op amp’s output
voltage at midsupply. This allows the maximum input
and output voltage swing for a given supply voltage.
Since a one volt change on the supply line causes a
one-half volt change at the output of the divider, the
circuit’s PSR is only 6 dB. So, the normally high power
supply rejection provided by any modern op amp,
which greatly reduces any ac signals (and power supply hum) from feeding into the op amp via its supply
line, is now gone.
This simple circuit has some serious limitations. One is
that the op amp’s power supply rejection is almost entirely
gone, as any change in supply voltage will directly
change the VS/2 biasing voltage set by the resistor divider.
Power Supply Rejection (PSR) is a very important (and
frequently overlooked) op amp characteristic.
REV. 0
0.1F
RA
100k
1F
*
*
CIN
VS /2
VIN
COUT
VOUT
RB
100k
VS /2
RLOAD
*
In some low gain applications, where input signals are
very small, the op amp’s output can be lifted above
ground by only 2 V or 3 V. But in most cases, all clipping
needs to be avoided and so the output needs to be centered around midsupply.
The circuit of Figure 1 shows a simple single supply
biasing method. This noninverting, ac-coupled, amplifier circuit uses a resistor divider with two biasing
resistors, RA and RB, to set the voltage on the noninverting equal to VS/2. As shown, the input signal, VIN, is
capacitively coupled to the noninverting input terminal.
VS
VS
R2
R1
C1
*STAR GROUND
BW1=
BW2 =
BW3 =
*
1
2π (1/2RA) CIN
1
2π R1 C1
1
2π RLOAD C OUT
FOR RA = RB
FOR AC SIGNALS, VOUT = VIN (1 + (R2/R1))
WHERE XC1 << R1
Figure 1. A Potentially Unstable Single Supply Op
Amp Circuit
© Analog Devices, Inc., 2002
AN-581
Even worse, instability often occurs in circuits where the
op amp must supply large output currents into a load.
Unless the power supply is well regulated (and well
bypassed), large signal voltages will appear on the supply line. With the op amp’s noninverting input
referenced directly off the supply line, these signals
will be fed directly back into the op amp often initiating
“motor boating” or other forms of instability.
Many published applications circuits show a 100 kΩ/100 kΩ
voltage divider for RA and RB with a 0.1 µF or similar
capacitance value for C2. However, the –3 dB bandwidth
of this network is set by the parallel combination of RA
and RB and Capacitor C2 and is equal to:
While the use of extremely careful layout, multicapacitor
power supply bypassing, star grounds, and a printed circuit board “power plane,” may provide circuit stability,
it is far easier to reintroduce some reasonable amount of
power supply rejection into the design.
Motor boating or other forms of instability can still occur,
as the circuit has essentially no power supply rejection
for frequencies below 30 Hz. So any signals below 30 Hz
that are present on the supply line, can very easily find
their way back to the + input of the op amp.
–3 dB BW =
A practical solution to this problem is to increase the
value of capacitor C2. It needs to be large enough to
effectively bypass the voltage divider at all frequencies
within the circuit’s passband. A good rule of thumb is to
set this pole at one-tenth the –3 dB input bandwidth, set
by RIN/CIN and R1/C1.
DECOUPLING THE BIASING NETWORK FROM THE SUPPLY
The solution is to modify the circuit, as shown in Figure 2.
The tap point on the voltage divider is now bypassed for
ac signals by capacitor C2, restoring some ac PSR.
Resistor RIN provides a dc return path for the VS/2 reference
voltage and also sets the circuit’s (ac) input impedance.
Note that the dc circuit gain is unity. Even so, the op
amp’s input bias currents need to be considered. The
RA/RB voltage divider adds considerable resistance in
series with the op amp’s positive input terminal, equal
to the parallel combination of the two resistors. Maintaining the op amp’s output close to midsupply requires
“balancing” this resistance by increasing the resistance
in the minus input terminal by an equal amount. Current
feedback op amps often have unequal input bias currents, which further complicates the design.
VS
VS
1F
0.1F
RA
100k
*
*
RIN
100k
VS/2
COUT
+
RB
100k
C2
VOUT
VS/2
Therefore, designing a single supply op amp circuit
design that considers input bias current errors as well as
power supply rejection, gain, input and output circuit
bandwidth, etc., can become quite involved. However, the
design can be greatly simplified by using a “cookbook”
approach. For a common voltage feedback op amp
operating from a 15 V or 12 V single supply, a resistor
divider using two 100 kΩ resistors is a reasonable compromise between supply current consumption and input
bias current errors. For a 5 V supply, the resistors can be
reduced to a lower value such as 42 kΩ. Finally, some
applications need to operate from the new 3.3 V standard. For 3.3 V applications, it is essential that the op
amp be a “rail-to-rail” device and be biased very close to
midsupply; the biasing resistors can be further reduced
to a value of around 27 kΩ.
RLOAD
*
*
CIN
R2
150k
VIN
R1
C1
BW1 =
1
2π (1/2RA) C2
*STAR GROUND
*
1
BW2 =
2π RIN C IN
BW3 =
2π R1 C1
BW4 =
2π RLOAD C OUT
1
= 30 Hz
2 π (50, 000)(0.1 × 10 –6 Farads )
1
1
FOR RA = RB AND BW1 = 1/10TH BW2,
BW3, AND BW4
FOR AC SIGNALS, VOUT = VIN (1 + (R2/R1))
WHERE XC1 <<R1
TO MINIMIZE INPUT BIAS CURRENT ERRORS,
R2 SHOULD EQUAL RIN + (1/2 RA)
Figure 2. A Decoupled Single Supply Op Amp Biasing
Circuit
–2–
REV. 0
AN-581
Note that current feedback op amps are typically
designed for high frequency use and a low-pass filter is
formed by R2 and stray circuit capacitance, which can
severely reduce the circuit’s 3 dB bandwidth. Therefore,
current feedback op amps normally need to use a
fairly low resistance value for R2. An op amp such as
the AD811, which was designed for video speed applications, typically will have optimum performance using a
1 kW resistor for R2. Therefore, these types of applications
need to use much smaller resistor values in the RA/RB
voltage divider to minimize input bias current errors.
+VS
0.1␮F
RA
100k⍀
*
COUT
VOUT
RB
100k⍀
VS/2
RLOAD
*
*
R2
50k⍀
R1
C1
*STAR GROUND
VIN
Table I. Typical Component Values for the Circuit of Figure 2
Where RA = RB = 100 k⍀, RIN = 100 k⍀, and R2 = 150 k⍀
1
BW1 =
2π (1/2 RA) C2
BW2 =
2π R1 C1
BW3 =
2π RLOAD C OUT
1
1
FOR RA = RB AND XC2 <<XC1
Input Output
BW BW
CIN*
Gain (Hz) (Hz)
(␮F)
R1
(k⍀)
C1* C2 COUT
(␮F) (␮F) (␮F)
RLOAD
(k⍀)
10
20
10
101
16.5
7.87
16.5
1.5
1.5
3
0.3
6.8
100
100
100
100
0.3
0.3
0.1
0.2
3
3
0.6
2
0.2
0.2
0.05
0.1
FOR AC SIGNALS, VOUT = VIN (R2/R1)
WHERE XC1 <<R1
TO MINIMIZE INPUT BIAS CURRENT ERRORS,
R2 SHOULD EQUAL 1/2 RA.
Figure 3. A Decoupled Single Supply Inverting
Amplifier Circuit
Figure 3 shows a circuit similar to Figure 2, but for an
inverting amplifier.
*Capacitance values rounded off to next highest common value. Since
the CIN/RIN pole and C1/R1 poles are at the same frequency, and both
affect the input BW, each capacitor is ÷2 larger than it would otherwise
be for a single pole RC-coupled input. C2 is selected to provide a corner
frequency of 1/10th that of the input BW.
Table II provides typical component values for several
different gains and 3 dB bandwidths.
Table II. Typical Component Values for the Circuit of Figure 3
Where R2 = 50 k⍀ and RA = RB = 100 k⍀
Gain
Input
BW
(Hz)
Output
BW
(Hz)
R1
(k⍀)
C1*
(␮F)
C2*
(␮F)
COUT
(␮F)
RLOAD
(k⍀)
10
20
10
100
10
10
50
20
10
10
50
20
2
1
2
1
8.2
20
2
8.2
0.5
0.5
0.1
0.3
0.2
0.2
0.05
0.1
100
100
100
100
*Capacitance values rounded off to next highest common value. Since
the C1/R1 pole and C2/R A/RB poles are at the same frequency, and both
affect the input BW, each capacitor is ÷2 larger than it would otherwise
be for a single pole RC-coupled input.
REV. 0
*
C2
Table I provides typical component values for the circuit
of Figure 2 for several different gains and 3 dB bandwidths.
10
10
50
20
1␮F
VS/2
Instead of a bipolar device, the use of a modern FET
input op amp will greatly reduce any input bias current
errors unless the circuit is required to operate over a
very wide temperature range. In that case, balancing the
resistance in the op amp’s input terminals is still a wise
precaution.
10
10
50
20
+VS
–3–
AN-581
A Zener should be chosen that has an operating voltage
close to VS/2. Resistor RZ needs to be selected to provide
a high enough Zener current to operate the Zener at its
stable rated voltage and to keep the Zener output noise
low. It is also important to minimize power consumption
(and heating) and to prolong the life of the Zener. As the
op amp’s input current is essentially zero, it’s a good
idea to choose a low power Zener. A 250 mW device is best
but the more common 500 mW types are also acceptable.
The ideal Zener current varies with each manufacturer
but practical IZ levels between 5 mA (250 mW Zener) and
5 µA (500 mW Zener) are usually a good compromise for
this application.
ZENER DIODE BIASING
Although the resistor divider biasing technique is low
cost, and always keeps the op amp’s output voltage at
VS/2, the op amp’s common-mode rejection is entirely
dependent upon the RC time constant formed by RA/RB
and capacitor C2. Using a C2 value that provides at least
10 times the RC time constant of the input RC coupling
network (R1/C1 and RIN/CIN) will help ensure a reasonable
common-mode rejection ratio. With 100 kΩ resistors for
RA and RB, practical values of C2 can be kept fairly small
as long as the circuit bandwidth is not too low. However,
another way to provide the necessary VS/2 biasing for
single supply operation is to use a Zener diode regulator.
Just such a scheme is shown in Figure 4. Here, current
flows through resistor RZ to the Zener. Capacitor CN
helps prevent any Zener-generated noise from feeding
into the op amp. Low noise circuits may need to use a
larger value for CN than the 10 µF specified.
Within the operating limits of the Zener, the circuit of
Figure 4 basically restores the op amp’s power supply
rejection. But this does not come without a price: the op
amp’s output is now at the Zener voltage rather than at
VS/2. If the power supply voltage drops, nonsymmetrical
clipping can occur on large signals. Furthermore, the circuit now consumes more power. Finally, input bias
currents still need to be considered. Resistors RIN and R2
should be close to the same value to prevent input bias
currents from creating a large offset voltage error.
VS
0.1F
1F
*
*
CIN
VIN
VZ
RIN
100k
IZ
Figure 5 is an inverting amplifier circuit using the same
Zener biasing method.
VZ
VZ
COUT
VOUT
VZ
VS
RLOAD
RZ
+ C
N
*
R2
100k
10F
R1
C1
*STAR GROUND
*
SELECT RZ TO PROVIDE THE DESIRED
ZENER OPERATING CURRENT, IZ. SEE TEXT.
RZ =
+VS – V ZENER
IZ
1
BW1 =
2π RIN C IN
BW2 =
2π R1 C1
BW3 =
2π RLOAD C OUT
1
1
FOR AC SIGNALS, VOUT = VIN (1 + (R2/R1))
WHERE XC1 <<R1
TO MINIMIZE INPUT BIAS CURRENT ERRORS,
R2 SHOULD EQUAL RIN.
Figure 4. A Noninverting Single Supply Amplifier Using
Zener Diode Biasing
–4–
REV. 0
AN-581
Table III can be used with circuits 4 and 5 to provide
practical RZ resistor values for use with some common
Zener diodes. Note that for the lowest possible circuit
noise, the optimum Zener current should be selected by
referring to the Zener product data sheet.
VS
0.1F
*
RIN
100k
IZ
1F
*
VZ
VS
Table III. Recommended RZ Values and Motorola Zener
Diode Part Numbers for Use with Figures 4 and 5
COUT
RZ
VZ
VOUT
VZ
+
ZENER
C2
10 F
RLOAD
*
*
R2
100k
VIN
C1
R1
*STAR GROUND
SELECT RZ TO PROVIDE THE DESIRED
ZENER OPERATING CURRENT, IZ. SEE TEXT.
RZ =
+VS – VZENER
Supply
Voltage
(V)
Zener
Voltage
(V)
Zener
Type
Zener
Current
(IZ)
RZ
Value
()
+15
+15
+12
+12
+9
+9
+5
+5
7.5
7.5
6.2
6.2
4.3
4.3
2.4
2.7
1N4100
1N4693
1N4627
1N4691
1N4623
1N4687
1N4617
1N4682
500 µA
5 mA
500 µA
5 mA
500 µA
5 mA
500 µA
5 mA
15 k
1.5 k
11.5 k
1.15 k
9.31 k
931
5.23 k
464
IZ
Tables IV and V provide practical component values
for Figures 4 and 5 for several different circuit gains
and bandwidths.
1
BW1 =
2π R1 C1
BW2 =
2π RIN C2
BW3 =
2π RLOAD C OUT
1
1
Table IV. Typical Component Values for the Circuit of
Figure 4 Where RIN = R2 = 100 k and CN = 0.1 F. Select RZ
from Table III
FOR AC SIGNALS, VOUT = VIN (R2/R1)
WHERE XC1 <<R1
TO MINIMIZE INPUT BIAS CURRENT ERRORS,
R2 SHOULD EQUAL RIN.
Figure 5. An Inverting Single Supply Amplifier Using
Zener Diode Biasing
Input
BW
Gain (Hz)
Output
BW
CIN*
(Hz)
(F)
R1
(k)
C1*
(F)
COUT
(F)
RLOAD
(k)
10
20
10
101
10
10
50
20
11.0
5.23
11.0
1.0
2
4.7
0.47
15
0.2
0.2
0.05
0.1
100
100
100
100
10
10
50
20
0.3
0.3
0.1
0.2
*Capacitance values rounded off to next highest common value. Since
the CIN/RIN pole and C1/R1 poles are at the same frequency, and both
affect the input BW, each capacitor is √2 larger than it would otherwise
be for a single pole R C-coupled input.
Table V. Typical Component Values for the Circuit of
Figure 5 Where RIN = R2 = 100 k. Select RZ from Table III
Input
BW
Gain (Hz)
Output
BW
(Hz)
R1
(k)
C1*
(F)
C2*
(F)
COUT
(F)
RLOAD
(k)
10
20
10
100
10
10
50
20
10
5
10
1
2.7
4.7
0.5
12
0.2
0.2
0.05
0.1
0.2
0.2
0.05
0.1
100
100
100
100
10
10
50
20
*Capacitance values rounded off to next highest common value. Since
the C1/R1 pole and C2/R IN poles are at the same frequency, and both
affect the input BW, each capacitor is √2 larger than it would otherwise
be for a single pole R C-coupled input.
REV. 0
–5–
AN-581
OP AMP BIASING USING A LINEAR VOLTAGE REGULATOR
For op amp circuits operating from the new 3.3 V standard,
a 1.65 V biasing voltage is needed. Zener diodes are
commonly available only down to 2.4 V. The easiest way
to provide this biasing voltage is to use a linear voltage
regulator, such as the ADM663A or ADM666A devices.
This is shown in Figure 6.
VS
+VS
0.1F
RA
220k
VS
VIN
SENSE
ADM663A
ADM666A
VOUT (2)
GND
110k
*STAR GROUND
0.1F
REF
RA
VSET
1.3V TO 16V
ADJUSTABLE
OUTPUT
RB
C1
0.1F
VS/2
VS /2
*
VS/2
*
C2
0.1F
COUT
VOUT
VS/2
0.1F
*
RLOAD
*
R1
*
*
+
1F
1F
RB
220k
*
*
VIN
1F
*
R2
–VS
*STAR GROUND
Figure 7. Using an Op Amp to Provide a “Phantom
Ground” for Battery-Powered DC-Coupled Applications
Figure 6. An Op Amp Single Supply Biasing Circuit Using
A Linear Voltage Regulator
NOISE ISSUES
Some op amp applications need a low noise amplifier
and low noise amplifier circuits require low resistance
values in the signal path. Johnson (resistor) noise
equals 4 nV times the square root of the resistance
value in kΩ. While the Johnson noise of a 1 kΩ resistor
is only 4 nV/√Hz, this increases to 18 nV/√Hz for a 20 kΩ
resistor and 40 nV/√Hz for a 100 kΩ resistor. Even though
the RA/RB resistor divider is bypassed to ground with a
capacitor (C2), these resistors set a limit on the minimum value that can be used for the op amp’s feedback
resistor and, the larger this is, the greater the Johnson
noise. So low noise applications need to use much
smaller op amp biasing resistor values than the 100 kΩ
specified here. However, lower value resistors in the
divider mean higher power supply current and reduced
battery life.
Although a Zener diode is usually the cheapest voltage
regulator available, a linear voltage regulator has lower
drift over temperature than a Zener and far less noise.
Resistors RA and RB are selected to provide the desired
VS/2 voltage reference; consult AD663A datasheet.
DC-COUPLED BATTERY-POWERED CIRCUITS
So far, only ac-coupled op amp circuits have been
discussed. Although with the use of suitably large input
and output coupling capacitors, an ac-coupled circuit can
operate at frequencies well below 1 Hz, some applications
require a true dc response.
Battery-powered applications permit the use of a “phantom ground” circuit as shown in Figure 7. This provides
dual supply voltages, both positive and negative with respect to ground, from a single battery. An op amp is
used to buffer the output of a VS/2 voltage divider. If a
low voltage battery such as 3.3 V is used, the op amp
should be a “rail-to-rail” device and able to operate
effectively from this supply voltage. The op amp also
needs to be able to supply an output current large
enough to power the load circuit. Capacitor C2 bypasses
the voltage divider output enough to prevent any resistor
noise from feeding into the op amp. This capacitor does
not need to provide power supply rejection because the
load current flows directly to ground and so any signal
currents flow equally from both sides of the battery.
Fortunately, the Zener diode biasing method supplies
VS/2 without the need for large resistors. As long as the
Zener is bypassed to keep its noise out of the circuit,
both noise and supply current can be kept low. The use
of a linear voltage regulator is even better, as its noise
and output impedance are both very low.
Resistors RA and RB are selected to provide the desired
VS/2 voltage reference; consult AD663A datasheet.
–6–
REV. 0
AN-581
CIRCUIT TURN-ON TIME ISSUES
One final issue that needs to be considered is circuit
turn-on time. The approximate turn-on time will equal
the RC time constant of the lowest BW filter being used.
INPUT “HEADROOM” CONSIDERATIONS
Some specialty op amps are designed for low voltage
operation. When these are operated from a low voltage,
single supply, such as 5 V or 3.3 V, input headroom limitations may be introduced. This can happen if the
amplifier’s input stage does not limit symmetrically.
The circuits shown here all call for the RA/RB, C2 voltage
divider network to have a 10 times longer time constant
than that of the input or output circuit. This is to simplify
the circuit design (since up to three different RC poles set
the input BW). This long time constant also helps keep
the biasing network from “turning on” before the op
amp’s input and output networks and, therefore, the op
amp’s output gradually climbs from zero volts to VS/2
without “railing” to the positive supply line. The value
supplied by this table is for a 3 dB corner frequency that
is 1/10th that of R1/C1 and RLOAD/COUT. For example: in
Figure 2, for a circuit BW of 10 Hz and a gain of 10, Table
I recommends a C2 value of 3 µF, which provides a 3 dB
bandwidth of 1 Hz.
For example: the AD8061 op amp is designed to have an
input common-mode voltage range that extends all the
way down to “ground” (or the negative supply line).
However, its inputs can only swing to within 1.8 V of the
positive supply voltage without introducing dc errors or
limiting device bandwidth. So, if this amplifier is operated from a single 5V supply and the amplifier’s positive
input is biased at VS/2 (2.5 V), the input voltage can
swing in the negative direction a full 2.5 V (down to zero
volts). But, in the positive direction, it can only swing 1 V
before clipping.
Note that this is not a problem if the amplifier is being
operated at a gain of 2.5 or higher, as the maximum output swing (± 2.5 V) will be reached before the input stage
limits. However, if the amplifier is being operated at a
lower gain, the positive input needs to be biased below
VS/2, to allow symmetrical input stage limiting. In the
case of the AD8061, biasing the positive input at 1.5 V
will allow a 3 V p-p input swing without clipping. Refer
to the individual product data sheet to determine the
optimum single supply biasing voltage.
Fifty thousand ohms (the parallel combination of RA and
RB) times 3 microFarads equals an RC time constant of 0.15
seconds. So the op amp’s output will take 0.15 seconds
(approximately) to settle to VS/2. The input and output RC
networks will charge up ten times faster.
In some applications, where the circuit’s –3 dB low
frequency bandwidth is very low, the circuit turn-on
time may become excessively long. In that case, a
Zener biasing method may be a better choice.
Table VI. Rail-to-Rail Op Amps Recommended for New Designs
REV. 0
Type
Single
Dual
High Speed
AD8031
AD8061
AD8051
AD8063
AD8032
AD8062
AD8052
AD823
High Output
AD8591
AD8531
AD8592
AD8532
AD8594
AD8534
JFET Input
AD820
AD822
AD824
Auto Zero
AD8551
AD8552
AD8554
Digital Trim
AD8601
AD8602
AD8604
Low Noise
OP184
OP162
AD8605
AD8628
OP284
OP262
AD8606
OP484
OP462
AD8608
Low Power
OP196
AD8541
OP296
AD8542
OP496
AD8544
Precision
OP777
OP727
OP747
–7–
Quad
AD8054
–8–
PRINTED IN U.S.A.
E02493–0–10/02(0)
```