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Using Miller’s Theorem and Dominant Poles to Accurately Determine Field Effect Transistor and Bipolar Junction Transistor Small Signal and SPICE Capacitor Values

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Laboratory Experiences in Electronics and Circuits

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1326.1 - 23.1326.11

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Paper Authors


Ernest M. Kim University of San Diego

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Ernest M. Kim (M’77) received his B.S.E.E. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1977, an M.S.E.E. in 1980 and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1987 from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. His dissertation was on precision near-field exit radiation measurements from optical fibers.

He worked as an Electrical Engineer for the University of Hawaii at the Naval Ocean Systems Center, Hawaii Labs at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station after graduating with his B.S.E.E. Upon completing his M.S.E.E., he was an electrical engineer with the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder, Colorado designing hardware for precision fiber optic measurements. He then entered the commercial sector as a staff engineer with Burroughs Corporation in San Diego, California developing fiber optic LAN systems. He left Burroughs for Tacan/IPITEK Corporation as Manager of Electro-Optic Systems developing fiber optic CATV hardware and systems. In 1990 he joined the faculty of the University of San Diego. In 1996-1997, he was at Ascom Tech in Bern, Switzerland as a Senior Systems Engineer performing research on Asynchronous Passive Optical Networks. He remains an active consultant in radio frequency and analog circuit design, and teaches review coursed for the engineering Fundamentals Examination.

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Thomas F. Schubert Jr. P.E. University of San Diego

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Thomas F. Schubert, Jr. received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California, Irvine.

He is currently a Professor of electrical engineering at the University of San Diego, and came there as a founding member of the engineering faculty in 1987. He previously served on the electrical engineering faculty at the University of Portland, Portland OR and Portland State University, Portland OR and on the engineering staff at Hughes Aircraft Company, Los Angeles, CA.

Prof. Schubert is a member of IEEE and the ASEE and is a registered professional engineer in Oregon. He is the 2012 winner of the Robert G. Quinn award for excellence in engineering education. He currently serves as the faculty advisor for the Kappa Eta chapter of Eta Kappa Nu at the University of San Diego.

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Using Miller’s Theorem and Dominant Poles to Accurately Determine Field EffectTransistor and Bipolar Junction Transistor Small Signal and SPICE Capacitor ValuesErnest M. Kim, P.E. and Thomas F. Schubert, Jr., P.E.AbstractThe most accurate method for determining high frequency cutoff for Bipolar Junction Transistor(BJT) and Field Effect Transistor (FET) small signal amplifiers is to use Miller’s Theorem tosimplify frequency response analysis in junior and senior level Electrical Engineering electroniccircuits courses. Dominant pole analysis can be used to simplify analysis can be used to furthersimplify calculations of the high frequency cutoff. Unfortunately, accurate small signalcapacitance values are difficult to determine. Using manufacturer’s SPICE data can yield largeerrors when comparing simulation, analysis and experimental data.By using dominant pole analysis under two different input resistance conditions yields, for thesame amplifier, a dominant pole due to low input resistance and another for a high inputresistance corresponding with the pole associated with the output small signal equivalent circuitof the transistor amplifier and the pole associated with the input small signal equivalent circuitrespectively.By experimentally determining the two cutoff frequencies (dominant poles) from the two inputresistance conditions using essentially the identical amplifier, and using expressions for the twopoles of the small signal amplifier model, accurate small signal capacitance values aredetermined. These values are mathematically converted to SPICE equivalent transistor modelcapacitances using established SPICE relationships. The resulting simulation corresponds wellwith experimental data and analytical calculations.Assessments of the student results and confidence in applying the dominant pole calculations todetermining transistor model capacitances and in designing other active circuits using thismethod will be presented. Faculty assessment of student results and confidence, as measured byscoring short answers to knowledge statements, will be presented.

Kim, E. M., & Schubert, T. F. (2013, June), Using Miller’s Theorem and Dominant Poles to Accurately Determine Field Effect Transistor and Bipolar Junction Transistor Small Signal and SPICE Capacitor Values Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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