Theory and design of low-noise multipath amplifiers

11 October 2012

The theoretical minimum noise measure of a multipath amplifier (an amplifier that has multiple parallel amplifiers) is achieved by using the optimum source impedance and optimum gain for each amplification path. This optimum source impedance and gain can be calculated by replacing each amplifier with its optimum source impedance. The resulting noise measure is the same as the minimum noise measure of the amplifiers used. The theory is demonstrated by applying it to distributed am plifiers. In an ideal distributed amplifier, the magnitude of the optimum gain of the amplification paths decreases and the phase delay increases the farther the stage is from the input, with the decrease in gain being faster for higher frequencies. The challenge in designing broadband low-noise distributed amplifiers is to achieve optimum gain matching over broad bandwidths. A numerical optimization procedure that separates source impedance and gain matching is proposed and demonstrated by optimizing a 0.5-2-GHz distributed amplifier. An average noise measure of 0.3 dB is achieved, which is only 0.1 dB higher than the minimum noise measure of the amplification stages used. This increase is due to transmission line loss and gain mismatch.