The ebook FEEE - Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering and Electronics is based on material originally written by T.R. Kuphaldt and various co-authors. For more information please read the copyright pages.

Frequency Response

Frequency response, op-amp

With their incredibly high differential voltage gains, op-amps are prime candidates for a phenomenon known as feedback oscillation. You've probably heard the equivalent audio effect when the volume (gain) on a public-address or other microphone amplifier system is turned too high: that high pitched squeal resulting from the sound waveform "feeding back" through the microphone to be amplified again. An op-amp circuit can manifest this same effect, with the feedback happening electrically rather than audibly.

Capacitor, op-amp compensation Compensation capacitor, op-amp

A case example of this is seen in the 3130 op-amp, if it is connected as a voltage follower with the bare minimum of wiring connections (the two inputs, output, and the power supply connections). The output of this op-amp will self-oscillate due to its high gain, no matter what the input voltage. To combat this, a small compensation capacitor must be connected to two specially-provided terminals on the op-amp. The capacitor provides a high-impedance path for negative feedback to occur within the op-amp's circuitry, thus decreasing the AC gain and inhibiting unwanted oscillations. If the op-amp is being used to amplify high-frequency signals, this compensation capacitor may not be needed, but it is absolutely essential for DC or low-frequency AC signal operation.

Some op-amps, such as the model 741, have a compensation capacitor built in to minimize the need for external components. This improved simplicity is not without a cost: due to that capacitor's presence inside the op-amp, the negative feedback tends to get stronger as the operating frequency increases (that capacitor's reactance decreases with higher frequencies). As a result, the op-amp's differential voltage gain decreases as frequency goes up: it becomes a less effective amplifier at higher frequencies.

Op-amp manufacturers will publish the frequency response curves for their products. Since a sufficiently high differential gain is absolutely essential to good feedback operation in op-amp circuits, the gain/frequency response of an op-amp effectively limits its "bandwidth" of operation. The circuit designer must take this into account if good performance is to be maintained over the required range of signal frequencies.

Define Gain-Bandwidth Product Define Slew Rate

Review Due to capacitances within op-amps, their differential voltage gain tends to decrease as the input frequency increases. Frequency response curves for op-amps are available from the manufacturer.

Last Update: 2010-12-01