Instrumentation amplifiers, or amplifier instruments, are analog subsystems that amplify low-level signals when exposed to high common mode noise, or common mode voltage (CMV). These differential amplifiers are most effective for DC signals and are often characterized by high gain, high input impedance, and a high common mode rejection ratio (CMRR).
What Are Common Types of Amplifiers?
Popularly used instrumentation amplifiers include two or three operational amplifiers and several perfectly matched resistors. The advantage of using multiple operational amplifiers is that they improve linearity and accuracy. Within these devices, CMRR is about half the resistor mismatch plus the gain. Furthermore, the output or common mode error is fixed by the resistor mismatch and is independent of the gain and output signal. Meanwhile, instrumentation amplifiers that only include single operational amplifiers do not achieve the low rift and low bias currents of more advanced devices. There are a few common types of amplifiers, some of which this blog will outline, allowing you to better understand how they work and their importance.
What Are Some Amplifier Specifications?
Instrumentation amplifiers have a number of specifications, some of which include the number of analog channels and the number of different channels. With single-ended outputs, suppliers regularly specify that the maximum number of analog channel outputs must be twice the number of differential outputs. Differential channels, which have two inputs, define the voltage as the signal to process between the two inputs. Other device specifications include maximum output voltage, gain range, and input impedance.
The factor by which input signals are multiplied is called gain, and it is frequently greater than unity. However, gain can be fractional when an attenuation of the signal amplitude is required. Impedance, on the other hand, is the resistance to alternating signal flow and is the result of the resistance, capacitance, and inductance of a device’s circuitry. For instrumentation amplifiers, input impedance is usually set as much greater than the impedance of the devices whose signals are amplified.
Additional specifications like AC and DC voltage inputs and integral filters allow certain signals to pass through while impeding others. Moreover, they also differ in terms of their respective common mode rejection ratio, a measurement that is normally expressed mathematically as CMRR=20log (differential gain/common mode range). In addition to this, an amplifier’s ability to acquire the difference between two inputs, while simultaneously rejecting the signal common to both is defined by the CMRR and the common mode range.
Instrumentation amplifiers are available in a variety of form factors. For example, some devices mount on ICs, standard DIN rails, or printed circuit boards (PCBs) that attach to enclosures or plug into the backplanes of computers. Other versions bolt into walls, cabinets, enclosures, or panels, whereas rack-mounted units fit inside a standard 19-inch telecommunications rack. Modular styles contain stackable units that dock in bays, slots, or boxes. Lastly, benchtop, or freestanding, instrumentation amplifiers will feature full casings or cabinets and integral interfaces.
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