Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image source Freepik
Radio frequency circuits are responsible for the running of RF devices and applications. The frequency is a representation of the oscillations due to the electromagnetic waves. The frequency of RF circuits is measured in Hertz (Hz) and it stands for the number of oscillations per second. Also, the frequency can be high or low, depending on the application area and the device being used.
Transistors are at the center of the RF operation. They are used for the execution of an array of activities that facilitate the smooth running of RF devices. Probably you know the basic roles of transistors in electric circuits include switching, amplification, and voltage regulation. Well, they are used for the same purposes in RF circuits, only that they are deployed in different ways. Keep reading as we discuss the functions of transistors in radio frequency circuits in detail.
Radio frequency amplification
This is the main role of transistors in radio frequency circuits. They boost the weak incoming radio signals to the level that is required by the receivers and other components in the circuit.
In most cases, these frequencies need to be transmitted, which can happen only when they have attained enough power. The amplification property of the transistor comes in handy in amplifying the signals.
Switching in the RF circuits
This is another major function of the transistors in the radio frequency circuits. Transistors can be used as on/Off switches in these circuits depending on the behavior of the signals. For instance, switching may be necessary when you want to modulate the frequency or amplitude of the RF. Phase modulation in the RF circuits may also require the use of transistors. This process will involve modulation and demodulation in the circuit.
Radio frequency is characterized by periodic oscillations which end up generating carrier waves. Transistors play a part in the generation of these oscillations. The switching and amplification properties of the transistors ensure that the oscillations are maintained within a particular phase.
Components of radio frequency circuits
A typical F circuit comprises of the following components.
- Low noise amplifier (LNA) The work of this amplifier is to amplify weak signals that are coming into the RF circuit. In doing so, it eliminates the noise on the signal. The behavior of this amplifier will define the sensitivity of the radio receiver.
- Power amplifier: This is a common amplifier whose work is to boost the intensity of the radio signal before it is transmitted.
- Mixer: As the name suggests, the function of this RF component is to mix the signals depending on the electronic device used. The mixer can mix the low-frequency signal to generate a radio frequency signal.
- Filter: the function of the filter in the RF circuit is to prevent the signals from interfering with each other.
- Switch: A switch regulates or controls the flow of signals in the RF circuit.
Types of transistors used in radio frequency circuits
At this point, we know the specific roles of transistors in the RF circuits. Here are some of the types of transistors that are used in these circuits.
- Bipolar RF transistors: This is a BJT that is specifically designed for RF circuits. It comprises both the N-type and P-type layers that are opposite to each other.
- MOSFET RF transistor: The metal-oxide field effect transistors have channels that comprise of either the P-type or N-type layer.
- Heterojunction field effect transistor (HFET): This is another type of FET only that it is designed to run on the negative power. Is mainly used for the amplification purpose.
- Pseudomorphic high electron mobility transistors (PHEMTs): The PHEMTRF transistor is mainly used on wireless devices and communication systems.
Application of transistors in the radio frequency circuits
Here are the key application areas of the transistors in the RF circuits:
- In radio broadcasting such as AM and FM modulations
- To facilitate wireless communication such as WIFI, GSM, Edge, 3G, 5G, Bluetooth
- RF remote control systems such as garage gates, remote cameras
- For satellite navigation systems
- Surveillance radar remote sensing systems
As long as a device or technology will use radio frequency, chances it has RF transistors.
Buying transistors for the RF circuits
Now that you know the role of transistors in radio frequency circuits, you can proceed to buy the right transistor for the job.
Before you buy one, there are various things that you should look at or questions that you should ask yourself.
First, know the type of transistor for the RF circuit. You should decide whether you are going to use BJT transistors or FET such s MOSFET transistors. As we have discussed, each type of transistor is packed with a set of unique features, and at the same time, there are pros and cons of using each transistor type.
Once you have decided on the type of transistor to use on your radio frequency circuit, the next thing to focus on are the transistor specifications. These parameters include input power, output power, amplification level, operating frequency, operating temperature, power gain, and many others. Pay attention to each of these details as they will determine both the compatibility and performance of the transistor in relation to the RF circuit.
Since the ultimate goal is to integrate the transistor into the radio frequency circuit, you should also check its packaging. Verify the type of packaging that is used on the transistor. Common package types include a single in-line package, which is perfect for low-power devices) a T-220 package that is designed for high-power devices, and a surface-mount package(SOT223).
You should also confirm the industry standards of the transistors. They define the safety levels and as well as the quality of the transistors. These standards include ASTM, ISO, and IEC.
Once you verify all these details, you can go ahead and buy the transistors. The safest bet will always be to buy from reputable transistor suppliers in China as they have a reputation of delivering quality electronic components.
In conclusion, I hope that this guide has given you insights into the critical functions of transistors in radio frequency circuits. All that remains is buying the right transistors and implementing your radio frequency project.
If you want to find more Electronic Components Distributors, please check out the following articles:
- The Art of Sourcing: How We Identify and Partner with Top IC Manufacturers - November 24, 2023
- Essential Electronics Test Equipment You Should Know About - November 24, 2023
- How To Finish PCBA Design Process Quickly? - November 24, 2023