The Operational Amplifier
43 The operational amplifier (op-amp) in use today is actually an integrated circuit (IC). This means that the device has numerous transistors and other components constructed on a small silicon chip. These IC op-amps are much smaller and, therefore, more practical than an amplifier with equivalent performance that is made with discrete components.
You can purchase op-amps in different case configurations. Some of these configurations are the Transistor Outline (TO) metal package, the flat pack, and the dual in-line pin (DIP) package. You can also find two op-amps (dual) or four op-amps (quad) in a single IC.
Their size, low cost, and wide range of applications have made op-amps so common today that they are thought of as a circuit device or component in and of themselves, even though a typical op-amp may contain 20 or more transistors in its design. The characteristics of op-amps closely resemble those of an ideal amplifier. Following are these characteristics:
- High input impedance (does not require input current)
- High gain (used for amplifying small signal levels)
- Low output impedance (not affected by the load)