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Fully-Differential Amplifiers (Rev. E)


Differential signaling has been commonly used in audio, data transmission, and telephone systems for many years because of its inherent resistance to external noise sources. Today, differential signaling is becoming popular in high-speed data acquisition, where the ADC’s inputs are differential and a differential amplifier is needed to properly drive them.

Two other advantages of differential signaling are reduced even-order harmonics and increased dynamic range.

This report focuses on integrated, fully-differential amplifiers, their inherent advantages, and their proper use. It is presented in three parts: 1) Fully-differential amplifier architecture and the similarities and differences from standard operational amplifiers, their voltage definitions, and basic signal conditioning circuits; 2) Circuit analysis (including noise analysis), provides a deeper understanding of circuit operation, enabling the designer to go beyond the basics; 3) Various application circuits for interfacing to differential ADC inputs, antialias filtering, and driving transmission lines.