Why Are Operational Amplifiers Widely Used?You are at: Elements - Operational Amplifiers - Op Amps GeneralFacts About Operational AmplifiersUsing Operational Amplifiers
This lesson is the first lesson on operational amplifiers, or op-amps as they are often called.
Operational amplifiers are widely used in signal processing circuits, control circuits, and instrumentation. Of all analog integrated circuits, the operational amplifier is the analog integrated circuit which has the most sales and is the most widely used in the widest variety of electronic circuits. If you are an electrical engineer, you will probably encounter more operational amplifiers than any other integrated circuit device. It's an important component for electrical engineers who design circuits using them and to all other kinds of engineers who use measurement and control circuits that contain operational amplifiers.
Operational amplifiers are used in many places including:
Your goal for this lesson should be:
Given an operational amplifier you want to use,Be able to connect the positive and negative power supplies correctly.
Be able to locate the inverting and non-inverting input terminals.
This is a computer photograph of an operational amplifier. It's often
referred to as an operational amplifier. We've called this module
"The World of Op-Amps" because these creatures can be found almost everywhere
you find electronic circuits. Here is a typical operational amplifier
on a circuit board.
This particular operational amplifier is an integrated circuit. Most operational amplifiers today are integrated circuits, even power operational amplifiers that can be used to drive small motors. Of course the actual size is smaller than the picture above!
Look carefully at the operational amplifier. It's important to notice that there is a notch (sometimes a circular depression) on one end (the "top" of the chip in the picture) of the operational amplifier. The pin shown below the notch is pin 1, and the one above is pin 8. They're numbered counter clockwise around the chip. Here is a drawing of the pinout
Above is a drawing of the pin-out.
An operational amplifier is a high gain, differential, voltage amplifier.
Operational amplifiers have been around since the late '40s or early '50s. There have been a number of influential and interesting characters that worked with operational amplifiers including George Philbrick and Bob Widlar.
If you want to use an operational amplifier, you will need to know several things.
Often an integrated cirtcuit chip has a single operational amplifer. The symbol for such an operational amplifier is shown below. There are three voltages associated with this symbol. Each voltage here is measured with respect to ground.
Remember that the operational amplifier is a high gain, differential voltage amplifier. In this case the output voltage is a very large multiple of the input voltage. The multiplying factor is called the gain. For a 741 operational amplifier, the gain is at least 100,000 and can be more than a million (1,000,000). That's an important fact you'll need to remember as you put the 741 into a circuit.
You don't need to know much more about wiring the operational amplifier or the internal connections to the amplifier. There are some minor adjustment connections you could make, but you're probably OK for now.
You still need to learn about operational amplifier circuits. That's
the next lesson, and you're ready to move on to it. The lesson is
the one on Inverting Amplifiers. Click here
to go to that lesson.