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issue: April 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

Electronics Report
1-MHz Operational Amplifiers

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Microchip Technology, Inc.'s new family of 1-MHz operational amplifiers reportedly reduce supply voltage demand, making them an ideal solution for extending battery life in portable devices, security systems, and other appliance applications.

With typical power usage of 180 microwatts (µW), the new family of 1-MHz operational amplifiers from Microchip are reportedly ideal for use in sensors, instrumentation devices, consumer products, battery-operated applications, and devices powered by a single communication loop such as phones, security, and building safety electronics.

The MCP6001, MCP6002, and MCP6004 devices, which offer rail-to-rail input/output and have 90-degree phase margin into a 60-picofarad (pf), 10-kilo-ohm (kohm) load, are said to offer exceptional stability in a low-cost operational amplifier. "This means that the amplifier still maintains low power use and can drive capacitive loads without oscillating," explains Art Eck, product marketing manager for Microchip's Analog and Interface Products Division. "Although it is possible to find very stable operational amplifiers, stability in combination with a low-voltage and low-cost operational amplifier is hard to beat."

According to Mr. Eck, stability is a big issue for design engineers. "It is hard to predict in a design when instability will be reached and how that point will shift with typical component and manufacturing variations," he explains. "For this reason, cost increase may be incurred by delays due to solving this issue, yield loss due to unwanted oscillations, and added components to stabilize the amplifier."

The amplifiers are also said to reduce supply voltage demand. "Careful use of the Standard Microchip Technology Inc. CMOS process has allowed the development of operational amplifiers that can be fully integrated into PICmicro(R) [field-programmable RISC microcontrollers]. This has required innovative use of available solid-state devices in order to preserve the standard wafer fabrication flow and still achieve proper analog performance. In the case of low-voltage performance, the addition of a mask was used to strategically create devices that would be capable of maintaining applicable behavior even under low supply voltage conditions," Mr. Eck tells APPLIANCE.

This, he says, is important because many products are being pushed to two dry cells (two AAA, AA, C, or D cells) in order to lower product cost and end user cost. "The near dead cell point, 90-percent used, for a dry cell is 0.9 V. Two dry cells placed in series and almost completely used will result in a 1.8-V supply," Mr. Eck says. "These amplifiers will operate from two new cells at 3.2 V down to 1.8 V, without a need for voltage increasing techniques that add cost."

According to Mr. Eck, this new family of 1-MHz operational amplifiers is expected to find its way into most appliance applications where an embedded control system has been introduced. For now, however, the added benefit of low-voltage operation makes the devices popular in battery-power or battery-backed-up systems, he says. Applications include real-time clock systems that must continue when the power goes out, security and safety systems, portable equipment, wireless devices, wearable products, and remote control products.


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