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AN RFMD® APPLICATION NOTE

Application Note: Amplifier RF Voltage and


Current Calculations for Different Loading
Conditions

Overview
In wireless applications, involving a variable antenna load at the amplifier output, the maximum RF voltage and current swings
at the output of the amplifier and the antenna port need to be estimated in order to assess antenna interaction effects with
the operation environment, as well as amplifier ruggedness subject to potential load mismatch. Additionally, for high-power
amplification, knowledge of maximum voltage and currents at the output of the amplifier allows the specification of discrete
matching elements, in terms of their maximum voltage and current rating, and PCB dielectric strength.

RF Voltage and Current at the Amplifier Output

Figure 1. Amplifier Output and Matching Circuit Model

Figure 1 shows an amplifier with output impedance Z A = R A + jX A , a fixed simple L-section matching network and a gener-
ally varying load impedance Z L = R L + jX L , so that the impedance Z I affecting the amplifier is:

(1) jBZ L
Z I = jX + ------------------
Z L + jB

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Application Note: Amplifier RF Voltage and Current Calculations for Different Loading
Conditions

For linear operation, the impedance Z A is well defined and relatively constant for different input drive levels, and can be
obtained from S-parameter measurements of the amplifier. For maximum power transfer to a standard 50 termination
 Z L = Z 0 = 50  , conjugate matching  Z A = Z I  of the load to the amplifier impedance yields:
(2a)
RA
-,
B = Z 0 -----------------
Z0 – RA
(2b) 2
BZ 0
X = – X A – -----------------
2
-
2
B + Z0

The power delivered to the load is:

(3) 1 2 1
P = --- V A ---------- ,
2 4R A

therefore, the RF voltage at the amplifier output (collector), in terms of the power P becomes:

(4)
VA = 8R A P .

For an arbitrary load Z L = R L + jX L , assuming that linear operation of the system is maintained for any resulting mismatch,
from simple circuit calculations we obtain:

(4a) ZI
VA = - ,
8P 0 R A ---------------------
 ZA + ZI 

(4b) jBZ L
VL = - ,
8P 0 R A ---------------------------------------------
 Z L + jB   Z A + Z I 

(4c) jB
iL = - ,
8P 0 R A ---------------------------------------------
 Z L + jB   Z A + Z I 

where X and B are determined from the amplifier output impedance via equation (2) and the amplifier output impedance is
known.

For non-linear operation, the effective output impedance of the amplifier may be difficult to define and, in principle, can vary
with the output voltage swing, which can then influence the power delivered to the load. From load pull measurements, one
can define the desired impedance Z I 0 = R I 0 + jX I 0 for the amplifier to achieve maximum power transfer, efficiency, or
linearity. The matching circuit is then defined by:

(5a)
R I 0
-,
B = Z 0 ---------------------
Z 0 – R I 0

(5b) 2
BZ 0
-.
X = X I 0 – -----------------
2 2
B + Z0

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Application Note: Amplifier RF Voltage and Current Calculations for Different Loading
Conditions

The voltage at the amplifier output for a 50 load termination can be expressed in terms of the power P delivered to the load
from:

(6)
V A 0 = 2R I 0 P 0 .

For an arbitrary load, the voltage and current amplitudes are:

(7a)
VA = 2P  Z I R I ,

(7b) jBZ L
VL = 2P  Z I R I ---------------------------
- ,
 jB + Z L Z I

(7c) jB
iL = 2P  Z I R I ---------------------------
- ,
 jB + Z L Z I

where for this case, the output power dependence P  Z I  is obtained from load-pull measurements and Z I from equations (1)
and (5).

Examples
The maximum voltage and current swings, with respect to the phase of the reflection coefficient, is calculated for the SZA-
5044(Z) for linear operation of the device. They are plotted in Figure 2 against the output power and the VSWR at the antenna
port.
10

9 VSWR=2:1
VSWR=4:1
8 VSWR=10:1
Amplifier Output Voltage (V)

1
14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
Output Power / 50 Ohm (dBm)

0.4

0.35 VSWR=2:1
VSWR=4:1
0.3 VSWR=10:1
Maximul Load Current (A)

0.25

0.2

0.15

0.1

0.05

0
14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
Output Power / 50Ohm (dBm)

Figure 2. Voltage and Current Swing at the SZA-5044(Z) Output

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Application Note: Amplifier RF Voltage and Current Calculations for Different Loading
Conditions

Load-pull measurement results are used to calculate the current from equation (11c) for the RFG1M20180 and are shown in
Figure 3. The matching circuit is defined for maximum output power  Z I 0 = 2.4 – j3.9 

.
40 3.0

35 2.5

Amplfier Voltage Amplitude (V)

Load Current Amplitude (A)


30 2.0

25 1.5

20 1.0

Voltage (V)
15 0.5
Current (A)

10 0.0
100 110 120 130 140 150 160
Output Power (W)

Figure 3. Voltage and Current Swing at the RFG1M20180 Output (VSWR = 2:1)

References
[1] D. M. Pozar, Microwave Engineering, J. Wiley 2005.

[2] RFMD, SZA5044(Z) 4.9GHz to 5.9GHz 5V Amplifier, DS110620.

[3] RFMD, RFG1M20180 1.8GHz to 2.2GHz 180W GaN Power Amplifier, DS110620.

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