Power management plays a very important role in the current electronics industry. Battery powered and handheld applications require novel power management techniques to extend the battery life. Most systems have multiple voltage regulators to provide power sources to the different circuit blocks and/or sub-systems. Some of these voltage regulators are low dropout regulators (LDOs) which typically require output capacitors in the range of 1's to 10's of µF. The necessity of output capacitors occupies valuable board space and can add additional integrated circuit (IC) pin count. A high IC pin count can restrict LDOs for system-on-chip (SoC) solutions. The presented research gives the user an option with regard to the external capacitor; the output capacitor can range from 0 - 1µF for a stable response. In general, the larger the output capacitor, the better the transient response. Because the output capacitor requirement is such a wide range, the LDO presented here is ideal for any application, whether it be for a SoC solution or stand-alone LDO that desires a filtering capacitor for optimal transient performance. The LDO architecture and compensation scheme provide a stable output response from 1mA to 200mA with output capacitors in the range of 0 - 1µF. A 2.5V, 200mA any-cap LDO was fabricated in a proprietary 1.5µm BiCMOS process, consuming 200µA of ground pin current (at 1mA load) with a dropout voltage of 250mV. Experimental results show that the proposed any-cap LDO exceeds transient performance and output capacitor requirements compared to previously published work. The architecture also has excellent line and load regulation and less sensitive to process variation. Therefore, the presented any-cap LDO is ideal for any application with a maximum supply rail of 5V.
- Any-cap low dropout voltage regulator
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by Matthew Topp