Importance of Operational amplifiers in electronics

An amplifier is a device that amplifies an input signal and produces the output with a large gain. The operational amplifiers can be considered as building blocks of many amplifiers. There are certain characteristics for a operational amplifiers. Here in this article a detailed view on operational amplifiers or op-amp is provided.

Introduction to Operational amplifiers

schematic symbol of op amp
An amplifier is a device that amplifies the input signal to desired output of required gain. There are so many types of amplifiers are there. These are specified for certain a use depends on the occasions. An operational amplifier is also an amplifier that is used to amplify both alternating and direct current signals at the input. The main building blocks or elements of an operational amplifier are two or more differential amplifier stages. This differential stage is followed by a level transistor and output stages. Here the differential amplifier stage includes set of differential amplifiers.

differential amplifiers

A differential amplifier is a circuit made up of transistors which is used to amplify the difference between the input signals. Here in differential amplifiers, when same input is given to both input terminals then the output voltage will be zero. A small difference in the input voltages may lead to large gain at the output. These types of differential amplifiers has many advantages; mainly in the field of instrumentation circuits. There are four differential amplifier configurations,

  • Dual input balanced output differential amplifiers
  • Dual input unbalanced output differential amplifier
  • Single input balanced output differential amplifier
  • Single input balanced output differential amplifier

We can construct multistage differential amplifiers for getting desired output gain. For this we can use direct coupling between the successive stages of differential amplifiers. The direct coupling will remove the lower cut off frequency imposed by cooling capacitors. Hence it can amplify both AC as well as Dc signals.


The CMMR can be defined as the common mode rejection ratio. It is the relative sensitivity of an operational amplifier to difference signals as compared to common mode signals. The common mode rejection ratio is one of the important parameter for analyzing the performance of various electronics equipments like amplifiers. As the value of CMMR increase the operational amplifier will be better.

Block diagram representation of operational amplifiers

block diagram of a operational amplifier
In general, the operational amplifiers uses a four stage cascaded structure as shown in the figure. The four stages of an operational amplifier are as follows,

  1. Input amplifier
  2. Intermediate amplifier
  3. Level shifting stage
  4. Output stage

Here the first stage or input amplifier uses a dual input balanced output amplifier. The function of this stage is to provide the high gain for the difference signals. It will also reject the common mode signals enter into the amplifier. Thus, this stage suppresses any undesired noise which is common to both input terminals.
The second stage consists of dual input single output differential amplifiers. The function of this stage is also to provide a additional gain to the operational amplifiers. Here there is a direct coupling exists between the first and second stage; this will lead to an output DC level which is well above the ground. Hence in order to reduce this DC level we are using a level shifting stage. This includes an emitter follower element. This stage is also known as a buffer stage. The high input resistance of this stage will help to prevent the loading down the high gain of second stage. The last stage is a push pull amplifier; this will increase the output voltage swing and increases the current supplying capability of operational amplifiers. The resistance of this stage is very low as compared to other stages.

The characteristics of ideal operational amplifiers

  • Open loop voltage must be infinite
  • Infinite input resistance
  • Output resistance should be remain zero
  • Bandwidth available must be infinite
  • Perfect balance, this means that the output voltage is zero when the inputs at bothtermianls are equal.
  • Infinite CMMR
  • There will be quick change in the output voltage for a small change in the input voltage
  • Stable characteristics against temperature changes

Reason for high popularity of operational amplifiers

  • Its characteristics are near to the ideal one
  • It is very easy to design
  • They work at different levels quite close to the theoretical performance
  • It provides high reliability
  • It can be available in small packages
  • Reduced cost and stable performance against temperature variations


The operational amplifiers have several advantages in the electronics industry. Operational amplifiers are very common in most of the electronic equipments. The wide popularity of operational amplifiers is mainly due to its performance near to the theoretical values.

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