# Texas Instruments | Getting the most out of your instrumentation amplifier design | Application notes | Texas Instruments Getting the most out of your instrumentation amplifier design Application notes

```Amplifiers: Op Amps
Texas Instruments Incorporated
Getting the most out of your
instrumentation amplifier design
Senior Systems Engineer, Industrial Systems
Many industrial and medical applications
Figure 1. Classic three-op-amp INA and its voltage nodes
use instrumentation amplifiers (INAs) to
condition small signals in the presence of
large common-mode voltages and DC
VIN – = VCM – VD /2
V1 = VCM – G1(VD /2)
potentials. Standard INAs using a unity+
gain difference amplifier in the output
R1
R2
stage, however, can limit the input commonA1
–
–
mode range significantly. Thus, commonVD /2
mode signals induced by adjacent equipment,
+
as well as large differential DC potentials
RF
–
from differently located signal sources, can
RG
VO
G1 = 1 + 2RF/RG
A3
increase the input voltage of the INA,
+
VCM
RF
ID
causing its input stage to saturate. Satura–
G2 = R2 /R1
tion causes the INA output voltage, although
VD /2
of wrong value, to appear normal to the
+
–
following processing circuitry. This could
VREF
A2
lead to disastrous effects with unpredictR1
R2
+
able consequences.
VIN+ = VCM + VD /2
V2 = VCM + G1(VD /2)
the classic three-op-amp INA and provides
design hints that extend the input commonmode range to avoid saturation while preserving overall gain at maximum value. The article also
In the nonsaturated mode, the op amp action of A1 and
discusses the removal of large differential DC voltages
A2 applies the differential voltage VD across the gain resisthrough active filtering, avoiding passive RC filters at the
tor, RG, generating the input current, ID:
INA input that otherwise would lower its common-mode
V
+ VIN −
V
rejection ratio (CMRR).
(3)
I D = IN +
= D.
RG
RG
INA principles
Figure 1 shows the block diagram of the classic three-opamp INA. The inputs, VIN+ and VIN–, are defined through
the input polarities of the difference amplifier, A3.
By definition, the INA’s input signals are subdivided into
a common-mode voltage, VCM, and a differential voltage,
VD. While VCM, the voltage common to both inputs, is
defined as the average of the sum of VIN+ and VIN–, VD
represents the net difference between the two.
VCM =
VIN + + VIN −
and VD = VIN + − VIN − .
2
(1)
Solving both equations for VIN+ or VIN– and equating the
received terms results in a new set of equations, which,
when solved for either input voltage, yields
VIN + = VCM +
VD
V
and VIN − = VCM − D .
2
2
(2)
The output voltages of A1 and A2 are therefore
V1 = VCM −
VD
V
− I DRF and V2 = VCM + D + I DRF .
2
2
Replacing current ID with Equation 3 yields
V1 = VCM −
VD
V
G and V2 = VCM + D G1,
2 1
2
where G1 = 1 + 2
(4)
RF
.
RG
Equation 4 shows that only the differential component,
VD/2, is amplified by the input gain, G1, while the commonmode voltage, VCM, passes the input stage with unity gain.
The difference amplifier, A3, subtracts V1 from V2 and
amplifies the difference with the gain G2:
VO = ( V2 − V1 ) G 2, where G 2 =
R2
.
R1
(5)
25
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Analog and Mixed-Signal Products
Amplifiers: Op Amps
Texas Instruments Incorporated
Replacing G1 with GTOT and G1′ with GTOT/G2′ results in
the extended common-mode range:
Inserting Equation 4 into Equation 5 and solving for
VO/VD provides the transfer function of the INA:
VO
= G1G 2 = GTOT .
VD
(6)
VCM ′ = VCM +
Extending the input common-mode voltage range
= VCM +
Note that V1 and V2 in Equation 4 do not represent
absolute voltages. Because VCM and VD can change their
polarities, the maximum voltage either output can assume
before reaching saturation is
For clarification, the following description simply ignores
signal polarities, and the variables refer only to magnitude
values. Assuming that V1,2 and VD/2 are constant, the only
way to increase the input common-mode voltage from VCM
to VCM′ is to reduce the input gain from G1 to G1′ so that
VD
V
G = VCM ′ + D G1′ .
2 1
2
Solving for VCM′ yields
VCM ′ = VCM +
(
(
(7)
)
VD ′
G G ′ −1 .
2 1 2
This improved common-mode range at the amplifier
output is now passed on 1:1 to the input. Applying gain to
resistor of A3 in Figure 2. A common solution uses a
the feedback resistor via a VSENSE pin. The input stage is
then realized by a dual low-noise amplifier, with external
resistors RF and RG being used to set the input gain.
To raise the gain of a unity-gain amplifier, external resistors can be switched in series to R2. However, the internal
resistor values must be measured, as they can deviate by
±30% from their nominal values given in the datasheet.
This approach works well for moderate gain. For large
gain, however, the external resistors can reach prohibitive
values, increasing noise to an undesirable level. A buffered
voltage divider in the feedback path of A3 is then required.
Resistors R3 and R4 allow a wide range of gain settings
with moderate resistor values. Voltage follower A4 provides low output impedance, which preserves the high
CMRR of the difference amplifier.

V 
± V1, 2 = ±  VCM + D  ≤ ± VSAT .
2 

V1,2 = constant = VCM +

1 
VD
GTOT  1 −

2
 G 2′ 
)
VD
G1 − G1′ .
2
Reducing G1 reduces the range of the amplified differential component, G1′(VD/2), thus providing an expansion
range for VCM. Standard INAs, using unity-gain difference
amplifiers, have R2 = R1 and G2 = 1.
The total INA gain is then placed into the input stage,
making G1 = GTOT. Equation 6 shows that reducing G1 from
GTOT to G1′, while preserving GTOT, requires an increase in
difference amplifier gain from G2 = 1 to G2′ = GTOT/G1′.
Removing large differential DC potentials
The signal conditioning in analog front ends of medical
equipment, such as electrocardiographs (ECGs), presents
the additional design challenge of detecting small AC signals in the presence of large differential DC potentials.
Figure 2. Increasing difference amplifier gain via REXT or buffered voltage divider
R2'
R2
V1
R4
REXT
R1
A3
+
A4
–
–
R1 = R2
R2
V1
VSENSE
+
R1
R3
–
VO
VO
R1 = R2
G2' = R2'/R1
VO
A3
+
G2' = 1 + R4/R3
VREF
V2
VREF
V2
R1
R2
REXT
R1
R2
R2'
26
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Amplifiers: Op Amps
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Signal composition
Figure 3. Difference amplifier with low-pass
Contraction of the heart wall spreads electrifilter and gain stage
cal currents from the heart throughout the
body. The currents create different potentials
R4
at different parts of the body, which are sensed
R1
R2
by electrodes on the skin surface via biologiV1
A4
cal transducers made of metals and salt.
R3
A typical electric potential is a 0.5- to
1.5-mV AC signal with a bandwidth of 0.05 to
vN
–
100 Hz and sometimes up to 1 kHz. This
VO
R 1 = R2
A3
signal is superimposed by a large electrode
+
DC offset potential of ±500 mV and a large
CINT
vP
common-mode voltage of up to 1.5 V. The
RINT
common-mode voltage comprises two parts:
–
50- to 60-Hz interference and DC electrode
V2
A5
offset potential.
R1
R2
+
To determine the input signal of the INA in
the ECG front end, the electrode attached to
a patient’s right arm has a DC offset of 450 mV
and an AC signal of 0.5 mVPP, while the one
on the left arm has a 50-mVPP offset and 1.5-mVPP AC. The
To determine G2, we calculate the total gain for maxidifferential input is therefore
mum dynamic output range,
+
–
VD = VD _ DC + VD _ AC
(
) (
= VDC _ R − VDC _ L + VAC( PP )_ R − VAC ( PP )_L
GTOT =
)
= 400 mV + 1 mV.
Thus, the differential DC is 400 times larger than the AC
signal of interest and, if untreated, will receive amplification
through the entire INA, causing its amplifiers to saturate.
At the same time, to convert the 1-mV AC into a representative signal that is of use to a following signal processing system, a total gain of 1000 or more is required.
The solution to this problem is performed in three steps:
(1) Limit the input gain, G1, to avoid saturation of A1
and A2;
(2) implement low-pass filtering in the output stage to
remove the differential DC, VD_DC; and
(3) apply high gain in the output stage, boosting the AC
signal of interest, VD_AC.
To determine G1, the INA is assumed to operate from a
typical ±5-V supply. For simplification, A1 to A3 have railto-rail inputs and outputs, and the common-mode potential
is at a maximum of VCM = 1.5 V.
Neglecting the small AC component of VD, rewriting
Equation 4 for G1 gives a maximum input gain of
VSAT
5V
=
= 5000,
VD _ AC 1 mV
and divide it by the applied input gain,
G
5000
= 500.
G 2 = TOT =
10
G1
With the low-pass filter in the feedback loop of A3, the
transfer function of the difference amplifier assumes highpass characteristics. One would now assume that the filter’s
–3-dB frequency occurs at
f0 =
1
2πRINTCINT
However, establishing the transfer function reveals that f0
has been increased by the gain factor G2 to f0′ = f0G2.
Mathematical proof:
By op amp action, the input terminals of A3 (Figure 3)
have identical potentials: vN = vP. Thus, for R1 = R2:
vN =
V V  1 
V1 VO
+
and vP = 2 −  O  
,
2 2G 2
2  2   j f f0 
where G 2 = 1 +
 V2 _ SAT − VCM 
 5 V − 1.5 V 
G1 = 2 
= 17.5.
 = 2 
400 mV 
VD _ DC


For convenience, we choose a conservative value of
G1 = 10; thus, the differential input signal of A3 consists
of a 4-V DC component and a 10-mV AC component. To
remove the DC part, an active low-pass filter is implemented, providing negative feedback from the output to
the noninverting input of A3. At the same time, output
gain, G2, is increased by the buffered voltage divider, R3,R4.
.
R4
1
and f0 =
.
R3
jωRINT CINT
Equating both expressions and solving for VO /(V2–V1)
yields the transfer function of the output stage:
 j f 
 j f

 f′ 
VO
 f0G 2 
0

.
G
= G2 
=
2
f 
f 
V2 − V1

j
j
1
+
1
+


f0G 2 


f0′ 
27
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Analog and Mixed-Signal Products
Amplifiers: Op Amps
Texas Instruments Incorporated
Figure 4. INA128 with OPA2132 providing low-pass filter and external gain stage
VIN–
INA128
+
–A1
V1 R1
R2
40 kΩ
40 kΩ
25 kΩ
RG
VIN+
R4
CC
R3
–
RF
G1 = 1 + 2RF /R G
RF
–
A4
+
A3
+
RINT
CINT
G2 = 1
25 kΩ
–
40 kΩ
A2
V2 R1
+
–
A5
+
40 kΩ
R2
RFILT
VO
CFILT
½ OPA2132
G3 = –GTOT /G1 = –R4 /R3
½ OPA2132
• Gain-booster A4 and integrator A5 can be designed with
the dual low-noise amplifier OPA2132 with an input–––
referred noise of 8 nV/√Hz.
• The adjustment of G1 is independent from G2 and f0,
allowing the input gain to be set for maximum input
common-mode range.
• The RC values defining the integrator time constant
now reflect the real lower-bandwidth limit, f0.
• The final gain stage A4 allows independent adjustment
of any desired gain value and performs low-pass filtering
of high-frequency noise.
increase of the time constant by the factor G2, thus quickly
leading to prohibitive values for RINT and CINT.
There are two alternatives to design around this problem.
Either (1) change the gain settings of G1, G2, and GTOT
until moderate values for RINT and CINT can be found, or
(2) make G2 = 1 and perform the final signal boost via a
separate gain stage (Figure 4).
The latter approach, which is the easier one, provides
the following benefits:
• Standard INAs with unity-gain output stages, such as
INA128 or INA118, can be used. Both devices allow for
input gains from 1 to 10000, providing a maximum nonlinearity of 0.002%.
Single-supply applications
Portable ECG equipment requiring single-supply operation
can use the high-precision analog front end in Figure 5.
Figure 5. High-precision analog front end of a portable ECG application
5V
390 kΩ
0.0015 µF
+
40 kΩ
390 kΩ
40 kΩ
1 MΩ
–
A3
+
½
5V
100 Ω
0.1 µF
OPA2335
VBIAS = 2.5 V
A1
10 µF
–
½
OPA2335
1 µF
390 kΩ
3.2 MΩ
750 pF
1 µF
200 kΩ
+
–
5 kΩ
INA326
(G=5)
–
5V
A4
½
+
OPA2335
REF3125
20 kΩ
+
–
5V
A5
100 Ω
OPA335
0.1 µF
390 kΩ
–
½
A2
+ OPA2335
28
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Both types of amplifiers, the instrumentation amplifier
INA326 and the dual precision amplifier OPA2335, operate
from a single 5-V supply and apply autozeroing techniques,
keeping the initial offset and offset drift over temperature
and time near zero.
The input gain of the INA326 is set to 5 via G1 = 2R2/RG
= 2(200 kΩ/80 kΩ). The 750-pF capacitor parallel to R2
cancels resistor noise. The 3-dB frequency of the integrator A4 is set to 0.05 Hz, while the output stage around A3
provides a gain of G2 = 1 MΩ/5 kΩ = 200. The precision
voltage reference, REF3125, provides low-noise biasing of
the 2.5-V bias voltage to the amplifiers and the 16-bit,
To further reject 50/60-Hz noise, the input commonmode voltage is fed back via the amplifiers A1 and A2 to
the right leg of the patient. This approach requires only a
few microamps of current to significantly improve the
common-mode rejection and to ensure compliance with
the UL544 standard.
Summary
This article has described extension of the input commonmode range and filtering of large DC potentials in high-gain
signal conditioners with three-op-amp INAs.
Further application information, in particular about
high-precision, single-supply INAs, is available at
www.ti.com, keyword “instrumentation amplifier.”
Related Web sites
amplifier.ti.com
www.ti.com/sc/device/partnumber
Replace partnumber with ADS8321, INA118, INA128,
INA326, OPA335, OPA2132, OPA2227, OPA2335, or
REF3125
29
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