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Publication numberUSRE41582 E1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 11/432,792
Publication dateAug 24, 2010
Filing dateMay 11, 2006
Priority dateJun 14, 2000
Also published asUS6735424
Publication number11432792, 432792, US RE41582 E1, US RE41582E1, US-E1-RE41582, USRE41582 E1, USRE41582E1
InventorsLawrence Larson, Wei Xiong
Original AssigneeThe Regents Of The University Of California
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
S-band low-noise amplifier with self-adjusting bias for improved power consumption and dynamic range in a mobile environment
US RE41582 E1
Abstract
A discrete low-noise amplifier designed to operate in a mobile wireless environment uses two cascaded GaAs FETs to achieve 25 dB gain and 0.9 dB noise figure at 2.5 GHz. Active bias control circuitry responsive to monitored amplifier output power automatically and continuously adjusts the drain-source currents, and the load lines, of the cascaded FETs to (i) maintain power consumption at 33 milliwatts in nominal small-signal conditions, and to (ii) provide an elevated input third-order intermodulation intercept point (IP3) and a reduced noise figure during the presence of jamming. A 15 dB improvement in the input IP3 is achieved in large-signal operation. Amplifier operation is supported by an a.c. power detector of enhanced sensitivity and responsiveness because of un-grounded operation.
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Claims(76)
1. A method of operating an amplifier, which amplifier has an load line,
to emulate the property of a class AB amplifier where increasing amplifier input current raises the d.c. bias of the amplifier and increases amplifier output current,
nonetheless that the amplifier will never enter class AB operation and will always operate in class A, the method of operating an amplifier always in class A nonetheless to producing more output current from more input current comprising:
monitoring the amplified output of the class A amplifier; and, in response to detecting an increase in the amplifier output,
dynamically biasing the load line of the amplifier to a higher d.c. bias point, causing the amplifier to consume more power and to produce a still larger amplified output signal, nonetheless to maintaining operation of the amplifier always in class A.
2. The class A amplifier operating method according to claim 1 used on a class A amplifier serving as an initial low noise radio signal amplifier in a wireless communication system;
wherein an increase in amplifier output signal is indicative of a presence of a strong jammer component in the amplifier input signal, so that moving the load line of the amplifier will cause the amplifier to draw more current beneficially decreasing a noise figure while increasing gain of the amplifier, and causing the amplifier to reach a new steady state with higher power and improved linearity;
wherein when no increase in amplifier output signal is detected, indicative that no strong jammer component is present within the amplifier input signal, then neither the d.c. bias, nor the load line, will be raised, and the amplifier will operate quiescently, conserving power.
3. An amplifier comprising:
at least one Field Effect Transistor (FET) receiving at its gate an input signal from an external source and amplifying this input signal in accordance with its drain-source bias voltage VDS to produce at its drain an amplified output signal;
a power detector circuit monitoring the amplified output signal to produce a detected-power voltage signal VDD; and
a dynamic bias control circuit comparing the detected-power signal VDD to the drain-source bias voltage VDS to vary a gate-to-source voltage bias VGS of the input signal, actively moving a load line of the FET so as to cause the FET to consume more power when the amplified output signal is large;
wherein when the amplified output signal is large because of a presence of a strong jammer component of the input signal, then the moved load line of the at least one FET will cause the FET to draw more current decreasing noise figure while increasing gain, and will cause the amplifier of which the at least one FET forms a part to reach a new steady state with higher power and improved linearity;
wherein, however, when no strong jammer component of the input signal is present, and when the amplified output signal is correspondingly not large, then the FET, and the amplifier of which it forms a part, will conserve power;
wherein a self-adjusting bias of the at least one FET results in improved power consumption and improved dynamic range in an environment where exists occasional strong jammer signals.
4. The amplifier according to claim 3 wherein the at least one Field Effect Transistor (FET) comprises:
two cascaded FETs.
5. The amplifier according to claim 4 wherein the each of the two cascaded FETS comprises:
a GaS FET.
6. The amplifier according to claim 4 wherein a first, input, one of the two cascaded FETs comprises:
a low-noise PHEMT; and wherein a second, output, one of the two cascaded FETs comprises:
a hetero-junction FET.
7. The amplifier according to claim 3 wherein the dynamic bias control circuit comprises:
two operational amplifiers each varying a gate-to-source voltage bias VGS of an associated FET.
8. The amplifier according to claim 3 wherein the power detector circuit comprises:
a resistor R; and
a first diode D1 series connected to form a diode-limited resistive divider.
9. The amplifier according to claim 8 wherein the diode-limited resistive divider and first diode D1 are both temperature compensated by a second diode D2.
10. The amplifier according to claim 3 wherein the power detector circuit is temperature compensated.
11. The amplifier according to claim 3 operational in S band.
12. A circuit for detecting a peak power of an a.c. signal, the peak power detector circuit comprising:
a resistive voltage divider, located between a voltage source and ground, producing a reference voltage signal;
a diode connecting at its cathode to both the a.c. signal and to the reference voltage signal; and
an envelope detector connected both to the anode of the diode and to the reference voltage;
wherein output of the detector circuit appears across the envelope detector;
wherein when the a.c. signal is zero then the detector circuit output is equal to the reference voltage;
wherein when the a.c. signal is not zero then the detector circuit output is equal to a sum of (i) the reference voltage, and (ii) a voltage of an envelope of the a.c. signal, which voltage of the envelope of the a.c. signal is equivalent to the power of the a.c. signal.
13. A method of operating an amplifier, comprising:
monitoring an output of the amplifier, wherein the amplifier is a class A amplifier;
in response to detecting an increase in the output of the amplifier, dynamically biasing the amplifier to further increase the output of the amplifier while continuing to operate the amplifier as a class A amplifier,
wherein the dynamically biasing causes the amplifier to draw more current.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the method is performed in a wireless communication system, and wherein the increase in the output of the amplifier is indicative of jamming of an output signal of the amplifier.
15. An amplifier comprising:
one or more active devices configured to amplify an input signal in accordance with a bias signal, producing an amplified output signal;
a power detector circuit configured to monitor the amplified output signal to produce a detected power signal; and
a dynamic bias control circuit configured to compare the detected power signal and the bias signal to produce a difference signal, wherein said dynamic bias control circuit is further configured to adjust said bias signal by biasing the one or more active devices until the difference signal is substantially zero.
16. The amplifier of claim 15, wherein the one or more active devices include two cascaded field effect transistors (FETs).
17. The amplifier of claim 16, wherein the two cascaded FETS are GaS FETs.
18. The amplifier of claim 16 wherein the two cascaded FETs include an input FET and an output FET, wherein the input FET is a low-noise Pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility transistor (PHEMT).
19. The amplifier of claim 18, wherein the output FET is a hetero-junction FET.
20. The amplifier of claim 16, wherein said two cascaded FETs include an input FET and an output FET, wherein the dynamic bias control circuit includes a first operational amplifier with an output coupled to a gate of said input FET, wherein said dynamic bias control circuit further includes a second operational amplifier with an output coupled to a gate of said output FET.
21. The amplifier of claim 15, wherein the power detector circuit includes:
a reference voltage circuit configured to produce a reference voltage at a first node;
a first diode coupled between said first node and a second node; and
an envelope detector coupled to said second node.
22. The amplifier of claim 21, further comprising a second diode coupled to said envelope detector and said first node, wherein said second diode is configured to perform temperature compensation.
23. The amplifier of claim 15, wherein the power detector circuit is temperature compensated.
24. The amplifier of claim 15, wherein said amplifier is operational in S band.
25. A detection circuit for detecting a peak power of an a.c. signal in a first circuit, the circuit comprising:
a reference voltage circuit coupled to said first circuit at a first node, wherein said reference voltage circuit is configured to produce a reference voltage at said first node;
a first diode coupled to said first node and a second node; and
an envelope detector circuit coupled to said second node and said first node, wherein said envelope detector circuit is configured to produce an output that corresponds to the sum of (i) the reference voltage and (ii) a voltage of an envelope of the a.c. signal, wherein the voltage of the envelope of the a.c. signal corresponds to the power of the a.c. signal.
26. The detection circuit of claim 25, wherein the envelope detector circuit is coupled to said first node via a second diode.
27. A device comprising:
first means for amplifying an input signal to produce an output signal;
second means for monitoring the output signal to produce a first signal indicative of the power of said output signal; and
third means for varying a bias signal in accordance with a difference between the first signal and the bias signal,
wherein said third means is configured to vary the bias signal until the difference between the first signal and the bias signal is substantially zero.
28. The device as recited in claim 27, wherein the device is a mobile communications system.
29. The device as recited in claim 28, wherein the device is a mobile telephone.
30. An amplifier comprising:
an amplification circuit having an input transistor and an output transistor cascaded together, wherein the amplification circuit further includes an input node and an output node;
a detector circuit coupled to the output node, wherein the detector circuit is configured to produce a first signal indicative of the power of an output signal on the output node;
a biasing circuit including a first operational amplifier having an output operatively coupled to a gate terminal of the input transistor and a second operational amplifier having an output operatively coupled to a gate terminal of the output transistor, wherein the biasing circuit is configured to vary a bias signal on the gate terminals of the input and output transistors in accordance with a difference between the first signal and the bias signal.
31. The amplifier as recited in claim 30, wherein the biasing circuit is configured to vary the bias signal until the difference is substantially zero.
32. The amplifier as recited in claim 30, wherein the detector circuit comprises a resistive voltage divider network, an envelope detector, a first diode, and a second diode.
33. The amplifier as recited in claim 32, wherein a cathode of the first diode is coupled to a first node, and wherein the first node is operatively coupled to the output node via an AC path circuit comprising a resistor and a capacitor coupled in series between the first node and the output node.
34. The amplifier as recited in claim 33, wherein an anode of the second diode is coupled to the first node, wherein the second diode is configured to perform temperature compensation.
35. The amplifier as recited in claim 33, wherein the resistive voltage divider network is configured to produce a reference voltage on the first node.
36. The amplifier as recited in claim 35, wherein, when an AC amplitude of the output signal is approximately zero, a voltage of the first signal is substantially equal to the reference voltage.
37. The amplifier as recited in claim 35, wherein, when an AC amplitude of the output signal is not substantially zero, a voltage of the first signal is approximately equal to the sum of the reference voltage and a voltage of the output signal.
38. The amplifier as recited in claim 30, wherein each of the first and second operational amplifiers includes a first and a second input, and wherein a first input of each of the first and second operational amplifiers is coupled to receive the first signal.
39. The amplifier as recited in claim 38, wherein the second input of the first operational amplifier is operatively coupled to a drain terminal of the input transistor and wherein the second input of the second operational amplifier is operatively coupled to a drain terminal of the output transistor.
40. The amplifier as recited in claim 39, wherein the first operational amplifier is configured to compare a voltage of the first signal to a drain-source voltage of the input transistor, and wherein the second operational amplifier is configured to compare the voltage of the first signal to a drain-source voltage of the output transistor.
41. The amplifier as recited in claim 30, wherein the first and second transistors are gallium arsenide (GaAs) transistors.
42. The amplifier as recited in claim 41, wherein the input transistor is a low-noise Pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility transistor (PHEMT) and wherein the output transistor is a hetero-junction field effect transistor (FET).
43. The amplifier as recited in claim 30, wherein the amplifier is a low noise amplifier (LNA).
44. The amplifier as recited in claim 30, wherein the amplification circuit is a class A amplifier having an input current and an output current, and wherein the amplification circuit is configured such that increasing the input current raises a D.C. bias of the amplification circuit and causes a corresponding increase in the output current.
45. An amplifier comprising:
one or more active devices configured to amplify an input signal in accordance with a bias signal to produce an amplified output signal;
a detector circuit configured to monitor the amplified output signal to produce a first signal; and
a dynamic bias control circuit configured to adjust the bias signal in response to any difference between the first signal and the bias signal,
wherein the one or more active devices include two cascaded field effect transistors (FETs), and wherein said two cascaded FETs include an input FET and an output FET, wherein the dynamic bias control circuit includes a first operational amplifier with an output coupled to a gate of said input FET, wherein said dynamic bias control circuit further includes a second operational amplifier with an output coupled to a gate of said output FET.
46. The amplifier as recited in claim 45, wherein the two cascaded FETs are GaAs FETs.
47. The amplifier as recited in claim 46, wherein the two cascaded FETs include an input FET and an output FET, wherein the input FET is a low-noise Pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility transistor (PHEMT).
48. The amplifier as recited in claim 47, wherein the output FET is a hetero-junction FET.
49. The amplifier as recited in claim 45, wherein the detector circuit includes:
a reference voltage circuit configured to produce a reference voltage at a first node;
a first diode coupled between said first node and a second node; and
an envelope detector coupled to said second node.
50. The amplifier as recited in claim 49, further comprising a second diode coupled to said envelope detector and said first node, wherein said second diode is configured to perform temperature compensation.
51. The amplifier as recited in claim 45, wherein the detector circuit is temperature compensated.
52. The amplifier as recited in claim 45, wherein the detector circuit is ungrounded.
53. The amplifier as recited in claim 45, wherein said amplifier is operational in S band.
54. A method of operating an amplifier circuit, the method comprising:
receiving an input signal;
amplifying the input signal to produce an output signal;
producing a first signal indicative of power of the output signal;
varying a bias signal in accordance with a difference between the first signal and the bias signal; and
operating the amplifier circuit as a class A amplifier, wherein the amplifier circuit is configured such that increasing an input current causes a corresponding increase in a DC bias of one or more active devices in the amplifier circuit.
55. The method as recited in claim 54, wherein said receiving occurs during jamming of said input signal.
56. The method as recited in claim 54, wherein said varying a bias signal causes the amplifier circuit to conserve power in small-signal conditions and to consume relatively more power when an amplitude of the output signal is large.
57. The method as recited in claim 56, wherein the output signal is large in the presence of jamming.
58. The method as recited in claim 54, wherein said producing includes providing a reference voltage, wherein the reference voltage is provided without a direct reference to a ground.
59. The method as recited in claim 58, wherein the first signal is the sum of the reference voltage and a voltage of the output signal.
60. The method as recited in claim 54, further comprising comparing a voltage of the first signal to a voltage on a drain terminal of a transistor in an amplification section of the amplifier circuit.
61. The method as recited in claim 60 further comprising driving the bias signal to a gate terminal of the transistor based on an output voltage produced from said comparing.
62. A device comprising:
a low-noise amplifier configured to conserve power during small-signal conditions and to increase amplification gain and reduce distortion during input signal jamming,
wherein the low-noise amplifier includes an amplification circuit having an input transistor cascaded with an output transistor, wherein the amplification circuit further includes an input node and an output node,
wherein the low-noise amplifier includes a detector circuit coupled to the output node, wherein the detector circuit is configured to monitor an output signal on the output node and to produce a first signal indicative of the power of said output signal, and
wherein the low-noise amplifier includes a biasing circuit having a first operational amplifier with an output operatively coupled to a gate terminal of the input transistor and a second operational amplifier having an output operatively coupled to a gate terminal of the output transistor, wherein the biasing circuit is configured to vary a bias signal on the gate terminals of the input and output transistors in accordance with a difference between the first signal and the bias signal until the difference is substantially zero.
63. The device as recited in claim 62, wherein the device is a telephone.
64. A communications device comprising:
an amplifier including one or more active devices configured to amplify an input signal in accordance with a bias signal to produce an amplified output signal;
a detector circuit configured to produce a first signal indicative of the power of the amplified output signal; and
a dynamic bias control circuit configured to adjust the bias signal in response to any difference between the first signal and the bias signal,
wherein the amplifier includes an amplification circuit having an input transistor cascaded with an output transistor, wherein the amplification circuit further includes an input node and an output node,
wherein the amplifier includes a detector circuit coupled to the output node, wherein the detector circuit is configured to produce a first signal indicative of the power of an output signal on the output node, and
wherein the amplifier includes a biasing circuit including a first operational amplifier having an output operatively coupled to a gate terminal of the input transistor and a second operational amplifier having an output operatively coupled to a gate terminal of the output transistor,
wherein the biasing circuit is configured to vary a bias signal on the gate terminals of the input and output transistors in accordance with a difference between the first signal and the bias signal until the difference is substantially zero.
65. The communications device as recited in claim 64, wherein the detector circuit is ungrounded.
66. The communications device as recited in claim 64, wherein the communications device is a telephone.
67. A communications device comprising:
an amplifier configured to automatically increase power consumption in the presence of jamming, and further configured to exhibit low power consumption during small-signal conditions,
wherein the amplifier includes an amplification circuit having an input transistor cascaded with an output transistor, wherein the amplification circuit further includes an input node and an output node,
wherein the amplifier includes a detector circuit coupled to the output node, wherein the detector circuit is configured to produce a first signal indicative of the power of an output signal on the output node, and
wherein the amplifier includes a biasing circuit including a first operational amplifier having an output operatively coupled to a gate terminal of the input transistor and a second operational amplifier having an output operatively coupled to a gate terminal of the output transistor,
wherein the biasing circuit is configured to vary a bias signal on the gate terminals of the input and output transistors in accordance with a difference between the first signal and the bias signal until the difference is substantially zero.
68. The communications device as recited in claim 67, wherein the detector circuit is ungrounded.
69. The communications device as recited in claim 67, wherein the amplifier is a low-noise amplifier.
70. The communications device as recited in claim 67, wherein the communications device is a telephone.
71. A method of operating an amplifier circuit configured to receive an input signal, the method comprising:
during small-signal conditions for said input signal, conserving amplifier power; and
in response to the presence of jamming of said input signal, consuming relatively more power than during said small-signal conditions;
operating the amplifier circuit as a class A amplifier, wherein the amplifier circuit is configured such that increasing an input current causes a corresponding increase in a DC bias of one or more active devices in the amplifier circuit.
72. The method as recited in claim 71, wherein the method further includes:
receiving the input signal;
amplifying the input signal to produce an output signal;
producing a first signal indicative of power of the output signal; and
varying a bias signal in accordance with a difference between the first signal and the bias signal.
73. A power detection circuit, comprising:
a reference voltage circuit configured to produce a reference voltage;
an envelope detection circuit coupled to said reference voltage circuit and configured to produce a first output signal indicative of the power of an AC input signal to the power detection circuit;
wherein said first output signal is produced without direct reference to ground,
further comprising a diode coupled between said envelope detection circuit and a node coupled to said AC input signal.
74. The power detection circuit as recited in claim 73, wherein said envelope detection circuit is an RC circuit.
75. The power detection circuit as recited in claim 74, further comprising a means for performing temperature compensation.
76. The power detection circuit as recited in claim 73, wherein said envelope detection circuit is coupled to said reference voltage circuit via a diode.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally concerns amplifier design and amplifier operation, particularly for wireless cellular radio communications applications where occasional jamming is prevalent.

The present invention particularly concerns the realization by both design and operation of a Low Noise Amplifiers (LNA) simultaneously improved in (i) dynamic range and (ii) overall power consumption, these seemingly contradictory requirements being satisfied by optimizing power consumption in the LNA in consideration of its instant operating environment.

The present invention further particularly concerns an ungrounded power detector that is both fast and sensitive to detect the output power of, for example, a LNA.

2. Description of the Prior Art

2.1 Low Noise Amplifiers, and Amplifier Operation in the Presence of Jamming

With the explosive growth of wireless communications, the airwaves are rapidly being filled with signals of varying strengths and frequencies. Immunity to jamming has subsequently become a significant concern to any communication system. This is especially true for a mobile communication system, such as a cellular phone, as it is difficult to predict the jamming environment the system will be exposed to. At the same time, the need for portability, and thus long battery life, requires the system to consume as little power as possible.

In a typical wireless system, filtering before the low-noise amplifier can reject most jammers. However, a high rejection ratio incurs high insertion loss—a direct contributor of receiver sensitivity degradation. In addition, many close-in jammers are impossible to block given the size and cost restrictions of a mobile system. A number of different jammers including frequency modulation radio, television, navigational beacons, and microwave ovens will typically be detected by an omni-directional 2.5 GHz antenna. The low-noise amplifier, therefore, must have a large dynamic range: namely, a low noise figure and low intermodulation distortion. See S. Chen, “Linearity Requirements for Digital Wireless Communi-cation,” IEEE GaAs IC Symp. Dig., Anaheim, Calif., pp. 29-32, October 1997.

To meet these demands, the LNAs often consume the most power in a receiver; tradeoffs are usually required to balance dynamic range versus power consumption.

2. Power Detector

Power detector circuits are many and various, and are not commonly identified as requiring improvement. The low noise amplifier circuit of the present invention will show, however, that it is useful (but not necessary) to detect instantaneous amplifier output power, or (equivalently) voltage (into load), with two orders of magnitude (i.e., ×100) greater sensitivity that existing Schottky diode power detectors. To this end the present invention will be found to encompass a power detection circuit that is particularly characterized in that the power is not detected relative to ground, ergo an un-grounded power detection circuit. When a signal in which power is detected need not be sunk to, nor referenced relative to, ground, then it becomes possible to detect variations in the signal with much greater sensitivity.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention contemplates a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) that circumvents the compromise between (i) dynamic range and (ii) power consumption by optimizing power consumption for the operating environment. The LNA of the present invention exhibits a high dynamic range when it is near or in compression, but low power consumption when it is in small-signal operation where a large dynamic range is not necessary.

Furthermore, the dynamic range of the amplifier is extended: jamming may be countenanced without such distortion as would otherwise occur.

The present invention further contemplates an un-grounded a.c. signal power detection circuit that is very sensitive and very fast. This un-grounded power detection circuit will prove useful, even if not absolutely essential, in an s-band low-noise amplifier that is, in accordance with the present invention, improved for both power consumption and dynamic range, especially as both are required in a mobile environment.

1. A Method of Operating an Amplifier

In one of its aspects the present invention is embodied in a method of operating an amplifier where the amplifier—or, more exactly, the transistor components of the amplifier—has an load line. The amplifier is operated so as to emulate the property of a class AB amplifier where increasing amplifier input current raises the d.c. bias of the amplifier and increases amplifier output current. The amplifier is so operated nonetheless that it will never enter into class AB operation and will always operate in class A.

The method of operating an amplifier always in class A nonetheless to producing more output current from more input current includes two steps: 1) The amplified output of the class A amplifier is monitored; and, in response to detecting an increase in the amplifier output, 2) the load line of the amplifier is dynamically biasing to a higher d.c. bias point, causing the amplifier to consume more power and to produce a still larger amplified output signal. This “boosting” of the amplifier output could obviously cause a run-away condition, but this “boosting” is realized, in accordance with the present invention, so as to always maintain the amplifier to operate in class A.

The purpose of so operating a class A amplifier is demonstrated when the amplifier is used, inter alia, as an initial low-noise radio signal amplifier in a wireless communication system. In this environment an increase in amplifier output signal is indicative of a presence of a strong jammer component in the amplifier input signal. Moving the load line of the amplifier will cause the amplifier to draw more current, beneficially decreasing a noise figure while increasing gain of the amplifier. The amplifier will ultimately be caused to reach a new steady state with higher power and improved linearity. This improved response comes, of course, at the cost of increased power consumption,

Conversely, if no increase in amplifier output signal is detected then this is indicative that no strong jammer component is present within the amplifier input signal. In such a case neither the d.c. bias, nor the load line, will be raised, and the amplifier will operate quiescently, conserving power.

2. An Amplifier of Improved Dynamic Range

In another of its aspects, the present invention can be considered to be embodied in an amplifier of improved dynamic range.

The amplifier includes at least one Field Effect Transistor (FET) receiving at its gate an input signal from an external source, and amplifying this input signal in accordance with its drain-source bias voltage VDS to produce at its drain an amplified output signal.

A power detector circuit monitors the amplified output signal to produce a detected-power voltage signal VDD.

A dynamic bias control circuit compares the detected-power signal VDD to the drain-source bias voltage VDS so as to vary a gate-to-source voltage bias VGS of the input signal, actively moving a load line of the FET so as to cause the FET to consume more power when the amplified output signal becomes large.

The amplified output signal typically so becomes large because of a presence of a strong jammer component of the input signal. In this eventuality moving the load line of the at least one FET will cause the FET to draw more current, beneficially decreasing noise figure while increasing gain. Ultimately the amplifier of which the at least one FET forms a part to reach a new steady state with higher power and improved linearity.

However, when no strong jammer component of the input signal is present, and when the amplified output signal is correspondingly not large, then the FET, and the amplifier of which it forms a part, will remain biased in an operational condition where power is conserved.

Accordingly, the self-adjusting bias of the at least one FET results in both (i) improved power consumption and (ii) improved dynamic range in an environment where exists occasional strong jammer signals.

The at least one Field Effect Transistor (FET) preferably consists of two cascaded FETs, and more preferably consists of two cascaded FETs where each is a GaS FET. The first, input, one of the two cascaded FETs is most preferably a low-noise PHEMT while the second, output, one of the two cascaded FETs is most preferably a hetero-junction FET.

The dynamic bias control circuit preferably consists of two operational amplifiers each varying a gate-to-source voltage bias VGS of an associated FET.

The power detector circuit preferably consists of a resistor R, and a first diode D1 series connected to form a diode-limited resistive divider. This diode-limited resistive divider is preferably temperature compensated by a second diode D2, making that the power detector circuit of which it forms a part is also temperature compensated.

The amplifier is normally operational in S-band.

3. A Low-Noise Amplifier (LNA) Improved for Having an Elevated Third-Order Input Intercept Point (IP3) and a Reduced Noise Figure During Jamming

In yet another of its aspects, the present invention can be considered to be embodied in a low-noise amplifier (LNA) improved for having an elevated third-order input intercept point (IP3) and reduced noise figure during jamming.

The LNA includes (i) at least one active device amplifying in accordance with a bias signal an input signal received from an external source so as to produce an amplified output signal, (ii) a power detector monitoring the amplified output signal to produce a detected-power signal, and (iii) a dynamic bias control circuit responsive to any difference between the detected power signal and the bias signal to increase the bias signal. This increase in the bias signal actively moves a load line of the at least one active device so as to cause this device to consume more power when the amplified output signal is large.

By this operation, when the amplified output signal is large because of a presence of jamming then the moved load line of the at least one active device will cause the active device to draw more current, decreasing noise figure while increasing gain. The amplifier of which the at least one active device forms a part will be caused to reach a new steady state with higher power and improved linearity.

The power detector, the dynamic bias control circuit and the at least one active device preferably function in concert so that when no jamming is present then, at nominal small-signal conditions, the at least one active device will be biased to consume less power, conserving power in the amplifier of which it forms a part.

4. A Method of Low-Noise Amplification

In still yet another of its aspects, the present invention can be considered to be embodied in a method of low-noise amplification that is improved for (i) conserving power during nominal small-signal conditions, and also for (ii) increasing amplification gain, and reducing amplification noise figure, during input signal jamming, making less likely any loss of data.

The method consists of amplifying in at least one active device—and in accordance with a bias signal—an input signal received from an external source so as to produce an amplified output signal.

This amplified output signal is monitored in a power detector to produce a detected-power signal.

Responsively to any difference between this detected power signal and the bias signal, the bias signal of the of at least one active device is adjusted in a dynamic bias control circuit so as to actively move a load line of this at least one active device. This movement of the load line causes this at least one active device to consume more power when the amplified output signal is large.

Accordingly, when the amplified output signal is large because of the presence of jamming (as in the cellular radio environment) the moved load line of the at least one active device will cause the active device to draw more current, decreasing noise figure while increasing gain. The amplifying will reach a new steady state with higher power and improved linearity.

However, when no jamming is present then, at nominal small-signal conditions, the at least one active device will be biased by the adjusting so as to consume less power, conserving power.

5. The Present Invention Expressed With Less Emphasis on Amplifier Power, and With More Emphasis on Amplifier Distortion

The previous explanations of the present invention, including that of the immediately previous section 4., have emphasized the situation-variable power consumption of a low-noise amplifier in accordance with the present invention, stating that the use of more power (more current) will, in the presence of jamming, serve to decrease the amplifier noise figure and distortion (while increasing gain). While a practitioner of amplifier design and amplifier operation will understand that 1) power and 2) distortion are “two sides of the same coin”, it may be useful for other persons less acquainted with the design and operation principles of low noise amplifiers to consider that the primary goal of the present invention is, after all, not to reduce power consumption but rather to reduce distortion, extending the operational range of the amplifier in the presence of jamming.

Emphasizing distortion, as opposed to power, reduction, it is therefore possible to perceive of the low-noise amplification method in accordance with the present invention as constituting four steps. An input signal received from an external source is amplified, in at least one active device and in accordance with a bias signal, so as to produce an amplified output signal. This amplified power signal is monitored in a power detector to produce a detected-power signal. This detected-power signal is compared with the bias signal to produce a difference signal. Finally, the bias signal of the at least one active device is adjusted, in and by a dynamic bias control circuit responsively to the difference signal, so as to (i) actively move a load line of this at least one active device until (ii) the difference signal becomes zero.

At this time such distortion as might otherwise have appeared in the amplified output signal will be minimized. This is because the moved load line will permit that a larger input may be handled by the amplifier without distortion. More exactly, when the amplified output signal is large because of a presence of a jamming signal then the moved load line of the at least one active device will permit that (i) a larger input resulting from combination of the jamming signal with the input signal will be amplified (ii) without such distortion as would otherwise occur in amplification of these combined signals should the load line have not been moved.

It will therefore be understood by a practitioner of amplifier design and amplifier operation that moving the load line in response to operational conditions benefits both the amplifier distortion and noise figure, and also the power consumption.

6. An Un-grounded Power Detector Circuit

In yet another of its aspects the present invention is embodied in a circuit for detecting a peak power of an a.c. signal. The circuit includes a resistive voltage divider, located between a voltage source and ground, that produces a reference voltage signal. A diode is connecting at its cathode to both the a.c. signal and to the reference voltage signal. Meanwhile an envelope detector is connected both to the anode of the diode and to the reference voltage. The output of the detector circuit appears across this envelope detector.

Circuit operation is such that the detector circuit output is equal to the reference voltage when the a.c. signal is zero. When the a.c. signal is not zero then the detector circuit output is, however, equal to a sum of (i) the reference voltage, and (ii) a voltage (equivalent to power) of an envelope of the a.c. signal.

The power detector circuit is notable in that power is detected without direct reference to ground. Instead, power is detected relative to a reference voltage, and across a single diode. Signal propagation across the diode is very fast, on the order of nanoseconds. Therefore the power detector circuit has a very fast response time. Because (i) the power within the a.c. signal is not compared to ground, but rather to an elevated voltage reference signal, and (ii) the voltage across the diode is much smaller than a conventional Schottky-diode-based power detector, the power detection is also very sensitive, on the order of microvolts. This combination of speed and sensitivity is useful in realizing the improved low-noise amplifiers of the present invention.

These and other aspects and attributes of the present invention will become increasingly clear upon reference to the following drawings and accompanying specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1, consisting of FIGS. 1a and 1b FIGS. 1A and 1B, are graphs showing the emissions of typical jammers plotted versus frequency.

FIG. 2 is a graph showing the IV characteristics and load line of a Field Effect Transistor (FET) such as the first FET within the preferred amplifier of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a simplified schematic diagram of the preferred embodiment of a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a graph showing measured small signal s-parameters of the preferred embodiment of a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) in accordance with the present invention previously seen in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a graph showing IP3 and total current consumption of the preferred embodiment of the Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) in accordance with the present invention previously seen in FIG. 3.

FIG. 6 is a graph showing the noise figure of the Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) in accordance with the present invention previously seen in FIG. 3.

FIG. 7 is a graph showing spurious-free dynamic range of the Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) in accordance with the present invention previously seen in FIG. 3.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention is embodied in a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) circuit of new design. The LNA is particularly useful in a cellular, mobile, wireless radio communications system where jamming is occasionally experienced.

1. The Operational Environment

FIG. 1, consisting of FIGS. 1a and 1b FIGS. 1A and 1B, illustrates some typical jammers as measured by an omni-directional 2.5 GHz antenna. Sources of a microwave oven, a navigational beacon (“nav.”), a personal communication system cellular telephone (“PCS”), an analog cellular telephone (“Cellular”), television (“TV”) and frequency modulation radio (“FM”) are in particular illustrated. To avoid fatal interference from these jamming signals a low-noise amplifier must have a large dynamic range: namely, a low noise figure and low intermodulation distortion. See S. Chen, “Linearity Requirements for Digital Wireless Communication,” IEEE GaAs IC Symp. Dig., At Anaheim, Calif., pp. 29-32, October 1997.

To meet these demands, LNAs often consume the most power in a receiver; tradeoffs are usually required to balance dynamic range versus power consumption.

2. The Preferred Embodiment of a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) in Accordance With the Present Invention

For input RF power significantly below the compression point, linearity is not a concern as the intermodulation distortion products created by the LNA are negligible. Power consumption and noise figure are the primary considerations. As the input power rises, the intermodulation products increase rapidly. Hence, it is desirable for the LNA's intermodulation intercepts, such as the third-order intercept point (IP3), to increase as the input power increases.

Since linearity generally improves with increasing dc power, improving IP3 on a given device would require higher power consumption. In wireless communication systems, the LNA only occasionally experiences high input power—when a strong jammer is present. Under these circumstances, increasing the power supplied to the LNA is a small price to pay to prevent loss of data or dropping the link.

At first glance, a Class AB amplifier has the ideal prerequisites; the current drawn by the amplifier grows as increasing input power raises the dc bias of the active device. See K. L. Fong, C. D. Hull, and R. G. Meyers, “A Class AB Monolithic Mixer for 900-MHz Applications,” IEEE Journal of Solid State Circuits, vol. 32, pp. 1166-1171, August 1997.

However, in the Class AB region, the device inherently clips once every period, creating undesired non-linearity. In addition, to achieve very low noise figure and high gain, FETs are preferred. Due to variations in saturation drain-source currents (IDSS), and pinch-off voltages (VP) intrinsic to the devices, the FETs can have vastly different drain-source currents (IDS) for given bias voltages. Active biasing and bootstrapping are commonly used to mitigate these and variations over temperature, but both methods prevent the FETs from entering the Class AB region. Without any bias control, the power consumed by the FET becomes unpredictable.

The LNA design of the present invention avoids these undesired properties of FETs and the “Catch 22” situation by actively moving the load line 2, as shown, in FIG. 2, to a higher dc bias point—instead of relying on the passive response of Class AB amplifiers. The Current-Voltage (IV) characteristics and load line of a typical first FET of a LNA are graphed in FIG. 2.

The basic topology of the LNA design of the present invention is shown in the schematic diagram of FIG. 3. The schematic comprises three sections—1) the active devices 31, 32, 2) the power detector 33 and 3) the bias control 34. The design employs a two-stage cascaded configuration with a low-noise Psuedomorphic High Electric Mobility Transistor (PHEMT) 31 (a type of Field Effect Transistor) at the input and a hetero-junction Field Effect Transistor (FET) 32 at the output. Two Schottky diodes D1, D2 in a dual package form the power detector. Diode D1 performs the detection, while diode D2 provides temperature compensation. Reference T. Lee et al., “Temperature Dependence of the Ideality Factor of GaAs and Si Schottky Diodes,” Physica Status Solidi, vol. 152, pp. 563-571, December 1995.

(For purposes of reference, the preferred Psuedomorphic High Electron Mobility Transistor (PHEMT) is a field effect semiconductor device where complex metalization structures are used to create a junction with higher electron mobility than can be achieved in pure Gallium Arsenide. In simplistic terms, PHEMTs provide a way to get the high mobility of Indium Phosphide on a Gallium Arsenide substrate, thereby avoiding the breakage problems associated with the very brittle Indium Phosphide wafers. The term “pseudomorphic”—literally “false form”—comes from the fact that the very thin semiconductor layer used to form the junction abandons its customary crystal lattice structure and assumes the form of the underlying GaAsS substrate, thus creating a mechanically viable structure. PHEMT technology is most commonly used to make ultra-low noise devices such as those used in the DBS market, or to make devices for operation at millimeter wave frequencies (i.e. above 20 GHz), or to make, quite obviously, the Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) of the present invention.)

The bias control is composed of two operational amplifiers 341, 342 that essentially act as comparators of the drain-source voltages (VDS) of transistors 31, 32 and the power detector output voltage (VPD).

Upon power-up, the gate-source voltages (VGS) are initially zero with drain-source currents in saturation. At this moment, the negative inputs of the op-amps 341, 342 are equal to VPD while the positive inputs are equal to
VDS=VDD−RSIDS
VDS<VPD when IDS=IDSS. The op-amps 341, 342 therefore provide negative voltages to the gates of the FETs 31, 32,
VGS=A(VDS−VPD)
where A is the gain of each op-amp 341, 342.

Using the large-signal square-law approximation for junction FETS, I DS = I DSS ( 1 - V GS V P ) 2
the relationship between IDS and VPD is then I DS = I DSS [ 1 - A ( V DD - R S I DS - V PD ) V P ] 2 or I DS = V P 2 - 2 AR S I DSS V P + 2 A 2 R S I DSS ( V DD - V PD ) 2 A 2 R S 2 I DSS
See P. R. Gray and R. G. Meyer, Analysis and Design of Analog Integrated Circuits. New York: Wiley, 1993.

A square-root term is omitted from the last preceding equation as it is four orders of magnitude less than the other terms. IDS is linearly proportional to VPD.

The behavior of the power detector is described by the zero-order Bessel function of the first kind. See R. G. Harrison and X. L. Le Polozec, “Nonsquarelaw Behavior of Diode Detectors Analyzed by the Ritz-Galerkin Method,” IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory Tech., vol. 42, pp. 840-845, May 1994.

However, since the load resistance of diode D1 is approximately one-half of the input resistance of the op-amp 341, and since the incident RF power into the diode D1 is relatively weak, the simplified square-law relationship between VPD and the LNA output power is sufficiently accurate.

The drain-source currents of the FETs 31, 32 therefore respond to the input power according to a square law. Steady-state is reached in approximately 0.7 millisecond. This feedback scheme also allows the bias control circuit to automatically compensate for device and temperature variations. The LNA requires supply voltages of ±3 V. The FETs 31, 32 are designed with a nominal IDS of 5. mA each, with an additional 0.8 mA required by the op-amps 341, 342 and the diodes D1 and D2. Less than 1 mA of total current variation is observed from −30° C. to +80° C. for a given input RF power. The LNA is also insensitive to device variations in the op-amps 341, 342 and diodes D1, D2. Components from several manufacturers are used interchangeably with identical results.

In high power conditions, such as in the presence of a strong jammer, Diode D1 conducts more current, lowering the negative inputs of the op-amps 341, 342, and thus increasing VGS and IDS of the FETs 31, 32. The LNA reaches a new steady state with higher dc power and improved linearity.

The power detector bias voltage can be adjusted to alter the steady-state IDS of the FETs 31, 32. This adjustability offers the versatility of variable IDS under small and large-signal conditions. For example, when the system is near the edge of receiver sensitivity, the symbol error rate may be excessively high. The system can decrease the bias voltage of power detector 33, lowering the output of the power detector 33 and forcing the currents of FETs 31, 32 to increase. The mechanism is the same as the transition to high input power operation. As the FETs 31, 32 draw more current, their noise figure decreases while their gain increases, improving the receiver sensitivity. Adjusting the bias of the power detector bias 33 be performed independently or in conjuncture with LNA's automatic response to high power signals.

3. Measurement Data for the Preferred Embodiment of a LNA in Accordance With the Present Invention

FIG. 4 shows the small-signal performance of the preferred embodiment of a LNA in accordance with the present invention, previously seen in FIG. 3, at 25° C. At 2.5 GHz, the gain is 25.9 dB, with greater than 45 dB of reverse isolation. The input and output return losses are 16.0 dB and 19.9 dB respectively. The LNA is unconditionally stable as measured by the Rollett stability factor K and D from 50 kHz to 20 GHz with input powers up to 0 dBm. Reference G. Gonzalez, Microwave Transistor Amplifiers, Analysis and Design, Eaglewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1984.

FIG. 5 demonstrates the improvement in IP3 as the input power increases. The third-order intermodulation products (IM3) are measured with two equally powered fundamental continuous-wave signals at 2499 and 2500 MHz. Under small-signal conditions, the single-tone input IP3 is measured to be −9 dBm with 11, mA of total current. At −13 dBm total input power, the LNA reaches the maximum input IP3 of 6.8 dBm with 23.9 dB of gain and 22 mA of total current.

The Class AB performance of the LNA without the power detector and the op-amp circuitry of the present invention is included for comparison. The gate voltages are adjusted manually so that 5.5 mA is supplied to each FET 31, 32. The VDS of each FET is set to 3.0 V. As FIG. 5 shows, the bias control of the present invention significantly improves IP3 without requiring significantly more dc power than would operation of the amplifier as a Class AB.

FIG. 6 shows the NF of the LNA at 2.5 GHz at input power levels from −50 dBm to −10 dBm. The nominal Noise Figure (NF) at 25° C. is 0.87 dB. For purposes of experiment, a 2.4 GHz jammer is input into the LNA along with the thermal noise from the diode head. The jammer forces the LNA into large-signal operation. The NF decreases to 0.68 dB at −20 dBm input power. As the input power continues to rise, however, the LNA enters compression. The NF increases dramatically as the in-band diode noise is severely desensed by the jammer. The NF of the same LNA operating in Class AB, without the bias control of the present invention, is again included for comparison.

With higher IP3 and lower NF in large-signal operation, the preferred embodiment of an LNA in accordance with the present invention achieves a 10.5 dB improvement in spurious-free dynamic range (SFDR) compared to nominal conditions, as shown in FIG. 7. See B. Razavi, RF Microelectronics, Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1998.

The bandwidth used for calculating SDFR is 1.25 MHz. The same LNA operated in Class AB could only obtain a 3.1 dB improvement in SFDR. A typical LNA with fixed current consumption exhibits little, if any, increase in SFDR as the input power is increased.

4. The Power Detector Circuit

Returning to FIG. 3, the operation of the power detector circuit 33 may be more fully expounded.

The substantial functionality of the power detector 33 is realized in and by a resistive divider 331, the diode D1, and, an envelope detector 332. The diode D2 is used for temperature compensation, and may be replaced by a short for purposes of analysis of essential circuit function. Likewise, the a.c. path 35 comprised of a resistor and a capacitor can equally as well be considered to be part of the cascade amplifier also including FETs 31 and 32 as of the power detector 33, and is best considered as a path of a.c. connection to such signal as will be monitored for power, ergo an a.c. signal.

By operation of the envelope detector 332 (to be explained), the power detection circuit 33 will not respond at its output to rapid transients at its input (which is different than having a rapid response), and is really peak power detection circuit, and is hereinafter so called.

Connection, and function, of the a.c. signal peak power detector circuit 33 is as follows. The resistive voltage divider 331, located between the voltage source +3 V and ground, produces a reference voltage signal. In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 3, this reference voltage is about 2.95 v.d.c.

Diode D1 connects at its cathode both to the a.c. signal received though a.c. path 35 and to this reference voltage signal received from resistive divider 331.

The envelope detector 332, preferably consisting of a simple RC circuit as illustrated, connects both to the anode of the diode D1 and (indirectly, through the diode D2) to the reference voltage.

The output of the detector circuit 33, voltage PPDVPD, appears across the envelope detector 332 (and at the anode of the diode D2).

In accordance with the explanation already rendered regarding the low noise amplifier of the present invention, the power detector circuit 33 will be understood to be determining how close is the amplified signal which is output from the FET 32 of the cascade amplifier to the reference voltage.

Namely, when this a.c. signal (as received into the power detector circuit 33 through the a.c. path 35) is zero, then output of the detector circuit—signal PPDVPD—is equal to the reference voltage. Alternatively, when this a.c. signal is not zero, then the output of the detector circuit—signal PPDVPD—is equal to the sum of (i) the reference voltage, plus (ii) a voltage (which is equivalent to power) of an envelope of the a.c. signal.

Clearly the power detector circuit 33 is responding to the power that is within the amplified signal from FET 32, as is required for the purposes of the present invention. Notably, this power is detected without direct reference to ground. Instead, power is detected relative to the reference voltage developed in resistive voltage divider 331, and across the single diode D1. Signal propagation across diode D1 is very fast, on the order of nanoseconds. Therefore the power detector circuit 33 has a very fast response time. Because (i) the power within the amplified a.c. signal received through a.c. path 35 is not compared to ground, but rather to the elevated voltage reference signal derived in resistive voltage divider 331, and (ii) the voltage across diode D1 is much less than that across the Schottky diode of conventional power detectors, the power detection is also very sensitive, on the order of microvolts. This combination of speed and sensitivity is useful in realizing the improved low-noise amplifier of the present invention shown in FIG. 3.

5. Conclusion

The low-noise amplifier with self-adjusting bias control in accordance with the present invention demonstrates low power consumption in nominal small-signal conditions. The preferred embodiment of an LNA showed significant improvement in dynamic range by automatically increasing the power consumption in the presence of a strong jammer to prevent receiver link degradation. The design concept of the present invention can be readily adapted to suit a variety of applications of differing frequencies and requirements.

In accordance with the preceding explanation, variations and adaptations of the Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) and/or the ungrounded a.c. power detector circuit in accordance with the present invention will suggest themselves to a practitioner of the electrical circuit design arts. For example, the feedback regulation of one or more bias currents need not be implemented with operational amplifiers. For example, the reference voltage to the power detection circuit need not be developed in a voltage divider, but could be derived from a more complex, but more stable, voltage source if absolute, as opposed to relative, power detection was of importance.

In accordance with these and other possible variations and adaptations of the present invention, the scope of the invention should be determined in accordance with the following claims, only, and not solely in accordance with that embodiment within which the invention has been taught.

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Referenced by
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Classifications
U.S. Classification455/250.1, 455/127.1, 330/136
International ClassificationH03G3/30, H03F1/02, H04B1/06
Cooperative ClassificationH03F2200/451, H03F2200/105, H03G3/3042, H03F2200/15, H03F2200/387, H03F2200/222, H03F2200/294, H03F2200/411, H03F2200/318, H03F1/0272, H03F2200/372
European ClassificationH03G3/30D2, H03F1/02T2S
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