Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Degang Chen


Operational amplifiers are fundamental building blocks in modern analog and mixed-signal systems such as data converters, switched-capacitor circuits, and filters. The fully-differential structure is extensively used in these applications because of its improved dynamic performance with respect to such aspects as signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and total harmonic distortion (THD) when compared to its single-ended counterpart. In some of these applications, the fully-differential amplifier is required to have fast transient settling time without slew-rate limitations. Power consumption also must be taken into consideration because low power consumption can significantly reduce a battery's weight and size, and extend its life-time. A Class A amplifier is a difficult configuration in which to conciliate all these requirements, since its fixed bias current can limit its maximum output current. To simultaneously meet both slew-rate and power consumption requirements, several slew-rate enhancement (SRE) techniques have been proposed in the literature, but all of them are either incompatible with the low voltage operation or exhibit either degradation in linearity or increase in circuit complexity. This thesis presents a simple SRE technique, efficient in both power and area usage, improve the slew rate while overcoming the drawbacks of state-of-the-art SRE techniques.

In this work, several existing SRE techniques are discussed, and their advantages and disadvantages are identified. The proposed SRE technique is based on excess transient detection and feedback. A transient signal can be detected at the internal nodes of amplifier. Once the detected transient signal is found to be larger than a pre-defined turn-on value, the excess transient signal can be instantaneously amplified to turn on a dynamic current source and feed it back to the amplifier for current boosting. This pre-defined turn-on voltage results in a SRE circuit being solidly off during quiescent state. Small-signal performance and linearity of the original amplifier can be thus well preserved. Thanks to this excess transient feedback concept, the implementation is much simpler than that of previously reported methods, and the static power overhead is also very small. Using the proposed SRE method, a fully-differential folded-cascode two-stage op-amp has been designed and fabricated using IBM 130nm process. This amplifier is designed to validate the proposed method of improving an amplifier's input-stage slew-rate. If the tail current doubles during slewing, the simulation result indicates that, at all corners, with temperature from 0°C to 60°C the average slew-rate can be enhanced by a factor of 2.6 and the 1% settling time after a large input step is reduced by 30% compared to the vales without using SRE. Any further increment in the tail transient current can further increase the internal slew rate and eventually make it equal to the output-stage slew-rate.

It is well-known that self-stabilized circuits, such as current, voltage and frequency references, are vulnerable to a problem of multiple operating points; this is also known as the start-up problem. An op-amp can suffer from the same problem when performance enhancement feedback is being used. In particular, a slew rate enhancement circuit (SRE) can be used to provide performance enhancement in low-power high-speed op-amp design. For such circuits, a systematic method for detecting and removal of Trojan states is presented. Using a design example and simulation results, it is demonstrated that the proposed method can effectively remove a Trojan state in an op-amp without degrading the improved slew-rate.

Copyright Owner

Chongli Cai



File Format


File Size

65 pages