(19)
(11)EP 3 014 764 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
27.11.2019 Bulletin 2019/48

(21)Application number: 13740219.4

(22)Date of filing:  28.06.2013
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H03F 1/02  (2006.01)
H03F 3/195  (2006.01)
H03F 3/60  (2006.01)
H03F 3/24  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/EP2013/063732
(87)International publication number:
WO 2014/206502 (31.12.2014 Gazette  2014/53)

(54)

AMPLIFIER CIRCUIT AND METHOD

VERSTARKERSCHALTUNG UND -VERFAHREN

CIRCUIT D'AMPLIFICATEUR ET METHODE CORRESPONDANTE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(43)Date of publication of application:
04.05.2016 Bulletin 2016/18

(73)Proprietor: Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (publ)
164 83 Stockholm (SE)

(72)Inventor:
  • HELLBERG, Richard
    S-141 45 Huddinge (SE)

(74)Representative: Haseltine Lake Kempner LLP 
Redcliff Quay 120 Redcliff Street
Bristol BS1 6HU
Bristol BS1 6HU (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 403 135
EP-A1- 2 608 400
US-B2- 8 022 760
EP-A1- 2 568 598
US-B1- 6 472 934
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Technical Field



    [0001] The present invention relates generally to an amplifier circuit and method, and more particularly to an amplifier circuit and method which provides improved efficiency, for example an amplifier circuit comprising at least first and second amplifiers configured to operate in Chireix and Doherty modes of operation.

    Background



    [0002] Power amplifiers are often used to amplify wideband signals or signal combinations with high peak to average power ratio, PAR. The amplifiers must then be able to repeatedly output very high power for very short periods, even though the bulk of the output power is generated at the much lower average power level. In systems with random phase combinations of many signals (without any dominating ones) the amplitude of the signal follows a Rayleigh distribution.

    [0003] A conventional single-transistor power amplifier (for example a class B, AB or F power amplifier) has a fixed radio frequency (RF) load resistance and a fixed voltage supply. The bias in class B or AB amplifiers causes the output current to have a form close to that of a pulse train of half wave rectified sinusoid current pulses. The direct current (DC) current (and hence DC power) is therefore largely proportional to the RF output current amplitude (and voltage). The output power, however, is proportional to the RF output current squared. The efficiency, i.e. output power divided by DC power, is therefore also proportional to the output amplitude. The average efficiency of a power amplifier is consequently low when amplifying signals that on average have a low output amplitude (or power) compared to the maximum required output amplitude (or power), i.e. high PAR.

    [0004] It is known to have power amplifiers configured to operate in a Doherty mode or a Chireix mode of operation, based on multiple transistors with passive output network interaction and combination. Such power amplifiers are much more efficient than conventional amplifiers for amplitude-modulated signals that have a high peak-to-average ratio (PAR), since they have a much lower average sum of output currents from the amplifier transistors. It will be appreciated that such a reduced average output current leads to high average efficiency. This high average efficiency is because the DC currents drawn by the transistors are largely proportional to the RF current magnitudes. An example of a Doherty amplifier is described in "A new high efficiency power amplifier for modulated waves,", W. H. Doherty, Proc. IRE, vol. 24, no. 9, pp. 1163-1182, Sept. 1936.

    [0005] Reduced RF output currents are obtained by having high transimpedance from at least one transistor to the output, while having the possiblility of in-phase combining all transistor outputs to obtain full output power. Higher transimpedance means higher voltage at the output for the same amount of current. This is achieved in the Doherty amplifier by having the main transistor ("carrier amplifier") displaced from the output node by a quarter wavelength transmission line of characteristic impedance Ropt. (A transistor's Ropt is the optimal load resistance for achieving maximum output power).

    [0006] Since the load Rload has a lower value than Ropt (typically Rload = Ropt/2) this line acts as a quarterwave transformer. The transimpedance to the output from the main transistor is equal to the characteristic impedance of the quarterwave line (i.e. Ropt), instead of Rload as would be the case for one transistor coupled directly to the load. The self-impedance at the main transistor is increased quadratically to the characteristic impedance squared divided by Rload (aka "impedance inversion" of the load). If the peak transistor (also known as "auxiliary amplifier" or "peaking amplifier") has an Ropt that in parallel combination with the Ropt of the main transistor gives Rload, full combined output power will be possible by in-phase combining (i.e. adjusting the phase (time, electrical length) difference between the main and peak drive signals so the output waves from both are in phase at the output Rload).

    [0007] The carrier amplifier output current is linear in amplitude, i.e. follows the desired output signal. The peaking amplifier output current is zero for low amplitudes, and rises (piecewise) linearly from the transition point. The transition point for a 2-stage Doherty designed for two equal size transistors is at half the maximum output amplitude. The shaping of the output RF current amplitude is in some cases done by biasing the gate low and increasing the RF drive voltage, known as class C operation. This shaping can also be done, wholly or partially, earlier in the processing chain, by analog or digital signal shaping circuits.

    [0008] The first way to extend the Doherty amplifier to more stages (transistors, constituent amplifiers) was shown by F. H. Raab in a paper entitled "Efficiency of Doherty RF Power Amplifier Systems", IEEE Trans. Broadcasting, vol. BC-33, no. 3, pp. 77-83, Sept. 1987. These amplifiers can be described as having a cascade of quarterwave transmission lines with successively lower characteristic impedance towards the output (load), where RF transistors are connected at the junctions between the transmission lines. The resulting amplifier makes it possible to have high efficiency in a wider range of back off.

    [0009] US8,022,760 discloses an alternative arrangement for 3-transistor Doherty amplifiers, whose main benefit is better placement of the transition points (corresponding to high points in the efficiency vs. amplitude curve) for equal-sized transistors. Higher order versions of the 3-transistor Doherty amplifier in US8,022,760 consist of having a higher order quarterwave cascade multistage Doherty as a peaking amplifier. Only the ones with an odd total number, N, of transistors (5, 7, 9 etc...) work, i.e. those that have quarterwave cascades with an even number, N-1, of quarterwave lines.

    [0010] EP2,403,135 discloses a four-transistor Doherty amplifier. This is basically the 3-stage amplifier of US8,022,760 with an added peaking amplifier at the output node and has largely the same advantages as US8,022,760 regarding transistor sizes. Higher order versions of EP2,403,135 consist of even numbers, N, of transistors, with both a directly connected and a quarterwave-connected transistor at the output node. The quarterwave cascade in the peaking amplifier branch will therefore have the total length, N-2, i.e. the same lengths as for the amplifiers in US8,022,760.

    [0011] The multistage Doherty amplifiers by Raab generally have their transition points too high to give good average efficiency with high-PAR signals if the transistor stages are of equal size. Figures 1a, 1b and 1c show the curves for a 4-stage implementation, in which the lowest transition point is at 0.37 of full output. The amplifiers with higher numbers of stages generally have the same problem.

    [0012] The amplitude-limited drive signals required for best operation can sometimes pose a problem of increased implementation complexity.

    [0013] Referring to the curves of Figures 2a, 2b, and 2c, the 4-stage amplifier of EP2,403,135 has an advantage in that the lowest transition point with four equal size transistors is at 0.25 of full output amplitude (-12 dB). However, the distribution of transition points is not so good for high-PAR signals, since the higher transition points are at too high output amplitudes, as shown in Figures 3a to 3c. An amplitude-limited drive signal is also required for this amplifier.

    [0014] For five and higher numbers of stages, implementations with equal size transistors of US8,022,760 and EP2,403,135 all suffer from too sparse transition points at low output amplitudes, as illustrated by Figure 3, 4 and 5.

    [0015] In particular, Figures 3a to 3c relate to a 5-stage amplifier according to US8,022,760.

    [0016] Figures 4a to 4c relate to a 6-stage amplifier according to EP2,403,135.

    [0017] Figures 5a to 5c relate to a 7-stage amplifier according to US8,022,760.

    [0018] Thus, each of the amplifier arrangements described in Figures 3, 4 and 5 have the disadvantage of requiring several (N-3) amplitude limited drive signals, and also have the disadvantage of having a poor distribution of transition points .

    [0019] Examples of other known systems include US6 472 934, EP2 568 598 and EP2 608 400.

    Summary



    [0020] It is an aim of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus which obviate or reduce at least one or more of the disadvantages mentioned above.

    [0021] According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided an amplifier arrangement comprising N amplifier stages, wherein N is an integer equal or greater than four. The amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage and an output node of the amplifier arrangement, wherein the cascade comprises N-1 quarter wavelength transmission lines. An amplifier of the Nth stage is coupled to the output node, and remaining amplifiers between the first and the Nth stage coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines. The amplifier arrangement is further configured such that the coupling of the amplifier of the Nth stage to the output node is via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line, and each coupling of the remaining amplifiers amongst the N-2 stages closest to the output node is via a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line to a respective junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines. The amplifier of the second stage is directly coupled to its respective junction in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0022] An advantage of this arrangement is that it provides good efficiency for high PAR signals even with equal size transistors, due to a high density of transition points at low output amplitudes, as will be explained later in the application.

    [0023] According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of improving the efficiency of an amplifier arrangement comprising N amplifier stages, wherein N is an integer equal or greater than four; wherein the amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage and an output node of the amplifier arrangement, wherein the cascade comprises N-1 quarter wavelength transmission lines, and wherein an amplifier of the Nth stage is coupled to the output node, and remaining amplifiers between the first and the Nth stage coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines. The method comprises the steps of: coupling the amplifier of the Nth stage to the output node via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line; and coupling each of the remaining amplifiers in the N-2 stages closest to the output node via a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line to a respective junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines; and coupling the amplifier of the second stage directly to its respective junction in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines .

    Brief description of the drawings



    [0024] For a better understanding of the present invention, and to show more clearly how it may be carried into effect, reference will now be made, by way of example only, to the following drawings in which:

    Figures 1a to 1c show current, voltage and efficiency curves for a known amplifier arrangement;

    Figures 2a to 2c show current, voltage and efficiency curves for a known amplifier arrangement;

    Figures 3a to 3c show current, voltage and efficiency curves for a known amplifier arrangement;

    Figures 4a to 4c show current, voltage and efficiency curves for a known amplifier arrangement;

    Figures 5a to 5c show current, voltage and efficiency curves for a known amplifier arrangement;

    Figure 6a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention;

    Figure 6b shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention;

    Figures 6c to 6e show current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figures 6a and 6b;

    Figure 6f shows a schematic diagram of the amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of Figures 6a and 6b;

    Figure 7 compares average efficiency between an embodiment of the present invention and prior art solutions;

    Figure 8a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention;

    Figures 8b to 8d show current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 8a;

    Figure 9 compares average efficiency between an embodiment of the present invention and prior art solutions;

    Figure 10a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention;

    Figures 10b to 10d show current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 10a;

    Figure 11 compares average efficiency between an embodiment of the present invention and prior art solutions;

    Figures 12 to 15 compare average efficiency between embodiments of the present invention and prior art solutions;

    Figure 16a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention;

    Figures 16b to 16d show current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 16a;

    Figure 17a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention, with Figures 17b to 17d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 17a;

    Figure 18a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention, with Figures 18b to 18d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 18a;

    Figure 19a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention, with Figures 19b to 19d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 19a;

    Figure 20a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention, with Figures 20b to 20d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 20a;

    Figure 21a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention, with Figures 21b to 21d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 21a;

    Figure 22a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention, with Figures 22b to 22d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 22a;

    Figure 23a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention, with Figures 23b to 23d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 23a;

    Figure 24a shows an amplifier arrangement according to an embodiment of the present invention, with Figures 24b to 24d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 24a;

    Figure 25 shows a method according to another embodiment of the present invention;

    Figure 26a shows an amplifier arrangement according to another aspect, with Figures 26b to 26d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 26a; and

    Figure 27a shows an amplifier arrangement according to another aspect, with Figures 27b to 27d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 27a.


    Detailed description



    [0025] Figure 6a shows an amplifier arrangement according to a first aspect of the present invention. In the example the amplifier arrangement comprises 4 amplifier stages, 101 to 104, although as will be described below the amplifier arrangement can comprise any higher number of amplifier stages, including both even and odd numbers of amplifier stages.

    [0026] The amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 113 coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement. The cascade comprises three quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 113 in this example.

    [0027] An amplifier of the 4th stage 104 is coupled to the output node, and remaining amplifiers between the 1st and 4th stages (amplifiers 102 and 103 in this example) are coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 113.

    [0028] The amplifier arrangement is configured such that the amplifier of the 4th stage 104 is coupled to the output node 15 via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131, with each of the remaining amplifiers closest to the output node 15 apart from the first and second amplifiers 101,102 (being just the amplifier of stage 103 in this particular example), being coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (132 in this example) to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0029] The quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 113 are shown as having a decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node 15 (represented by the comparative thickness of each quarter wavelength transmission line 111 to 113). Although the embodiments described herein will be described as having a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines with decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node, it is noted that transformations may be provided in a network, as described later in the application, for providing the same effect as a deceasing characteristic impedance. The use of such transformations in the network might be beneficial when physical constraints are imposed on the amplifier arrangement, for example because of the physical size of the transmission lines required to give a particular characteristic impedance.

    [0030] The arrangement shown in Figure 6a can be used with an increasing number of amplifiers stages, for both odd and even numbers of amplifier stages N.

    [0031] Thus, in more general terms, Figure 6b describes this aspect of the invention for an amplifier arrangement comprising N amplifier stages, 101 to 10N, wherein N is an integer equal or greater than four.

    [0032] The amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 11N-1 coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement. The cascade comprises N-1 quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 11N-1.

    [0033] An amplifier of the Nth stage 10N is coupled to the output node, and remaining amplifiers between the first and Nth stages 102 to 10N-1 coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 11N-1.

    [0034] The amplifier arrangement is configured such that the amplifier 10N of the Nth stage is coupled to the output node 15 via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131, with each of the remaining amplifiers 103 to 10N-1 of the N-2 stages closest to the output node 15 being coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131 to 13N-2 to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0035] The cascade of N-1 quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 11N-1 may comprise a decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node.

    [0036] This arrangement has the advantage of providing good efficiency for high PAR signals even with equal size transistors, due to high density of transition points at low output amplitudes.

    [0037] It can be seen from the above that embodiments of the present invention describe 4-stage and higher ("N-stage") amplifier arrangements, and in particular a Doherty amplifier arrangement, whereby the N-2 amplifiers closest to the output are coupled by quarter wavelength lines to the junctions of the cascade of quarter wavelength lines (consisting of N-1 quarter wavelength lines of decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output, or equivalent transformations in a network).

    [0038] Figure 6c shows a plot of current against output amplitude for the four-stage embodiment of the present invention as shown in Figure 6a. The order of the amplifier starting points in this example is amplifier 104 starting at zero, amplifier 103 starting at 0.25 of full output amplitude, amplifier 101 starting at 0.33 of full output amplitude, and amplifier 102 starting at 0.62 of full output amplitude.

    [0039] Figure 6d shows a plot of voltage against output amplitude for the four-stage embodiment of the present invention as shown in Figure 6a.

    [0040] Figure 6e shows a plot of efficiency against output amplitude for the four-stage embodiment of the present invention as shown in Figure 6a.

    [0041] It can be seen from the above that the amplifier stages (transistors, constituent amplifiers) connected to the output node 15 (i.e. amplifier 104) and to the quarterwave cascade junction one quarter wavelength from the output (i.e. amplifier 103) are connected via quarter wave lines. This is different from a regular multistage Doherty amplifier arrangement in which no such quarter wave lines are used. The quarterwave cascade itself contains three quarter wavelength lines, whereas the arrangement in prior art systems such as EP2403135 only have one quarterwave-connected stage, at the output, and a quarterwave cascade consisting of only two quarter wave lines.

    [0042] It can be seen from Figure 6c that the current amplitudes are zero below, and (piecewise) linear above respective transition points (and zero). All current amplitudes are then linear up to the maximum output.

    [0043] With increasing amplitude, a new amplifier needs to start delivering current only when a previous amplifier has reached its maximum voltage (saturation). As for all Doherty amplifiers, the RF output voltages and currents at an amplifier stage are always in phase in the ideal implementation (and at center frequency).

    [0044] The relative phases of the drive signals to the amplifiers are easily found by inspection of the electrical length from each amplifier to the common output node 15 (i.e. time delay over the lengths of transmission line). In this specific example, amplifiers 102 and 103 of the second and third amplifier stages are configured to have phase offsets of -90 degrees (a quarter RF cycle) relative to the phase of amplifier 104 of the fourth amplifier stage, and amplifier 101 of the first amplifier stage configured to have a phase offset of -180 degrees (a half RF cycle). At least for wideband implementations the offsets can be implemented as time delays (which is also convenient for microwave implementations, where they can be implemented with transmission lines).

    [0045] In the example of Figure 6a each of the amplifiers in the amplifier stages (101 to 104) is of a substantially equal size. By substantially equal size is meant that the amplifiers may be of the same generally type, or that the amplifiers may be configured to provide similar drive currents and/or voltages.

    [0046] Furthermore, in this example the characteristic impedance of each successive stage in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 113 is reduced towards the output node, and in particular reduced to the parallel combination of the preceding connecting transmission lines. For example, for equal connecting characteristic impedance it reduces to 1/M of the impedance of the transmission line from a single amplifier, where M is the number of preceding amplifiers (i.e. amplifier connected to the input side of a particular point). Therefore, in an example where a particular point has two preceding amplifiers connected by equal connecting characteristic impedances, the characteristic impedance is halved (1/M = 1/2).

    [0047] Also, in this example, the characteristic impedance of each of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines 131 to 132 is substantially equal.

    [0048] Referring to Figure 6e, the efficiency curve for such an amplifier arrangement designed for four equal size transistors (and substantially the same characteristic impedance in the connecting transmission lines and/or connecting part of the quarterwave cascade junction) has four peaks; at 0.25, 0.33, 0.62 and 1 of full output amplitude.

    [0049] Figure 6f shows a schematic diagram of the embodiment of Figure 6a, illustrated in an alternative manner. Similar schematic diagrams can be drawn for the other embodiments that are described below.

    [0050] The arrangements shown in Figures 6a, 6b and 6f above have the advantage of being more efficient than prior art solutions for signals with Rayleigh distributed amplitudes with PAR above 9 dB, as seen in Figure 7 which compares efficiency curves for the present embodiment with that of EP2,403,135 and the paper by Raab (whereby the x-axis is back off counted as negative PAR for a signal with Rayleigh distributed amplitude).

    [0051] Correctly tuned amplifiers have high, ideally infinite, impedance at the output. This high impedance is transformed by a quarterwave line so that the other end has a low (close to short circuit) impedance. Since the amplifier 104 of Figure 6a is connected by a quarterwave line to the output node 15, the output is thus short circuited when seen from amplifiers in the quarterwave cascade. In analogy with the traditional 2-stage Doherty amplifier, the amplifiers in the quarterwave cascade thus work together as an equivalent peaking amplifier to the fourth amplifier 104, which consequentially works as a main, or carrier, amplifier.

    [0052] In the quarterwave cascade, the same situation holds for the third amplifier 103 relative to the others. The amplifier 103 is connected by a quarterwave line to a junction in the quarterwave cascade. Therefore, this connection point is short circuited for RF voltage from the other amplifiers. These then act together as a peaking amplifier for the third amplifier 103 (i.e. "a peaking amplifier to the peaking amplifier"). The quarter wavelength transmission line of the first amplifier 101 short circuits the connection point for the second amplifier 102, which in the same way acts as a peaking amplifier for the first amplifier 101. The short circuiting of the connection points is the reason for the quarterwave cascade; a short circuited junction is displaced from the next by a quarter wavelength line that transforms the low impedance to an open circuit or high impedance.

    [0053] According to other embodiments of the invention, this scheme can be extended with good results to higher numbers of stages. This is achieved by using the N-stage amplifier, with the quarterwave cascade extended by an extra quarter wavelength (to the right), as the peaking amplifier for an (N+1)-stage. This is always possible, regardless of whether the starting N was even or odd. Higher order versions therefore exist for all numbers of stages, odd and even, contrary to prior art solutions. All higher order versions also have the advantageous property of having many transition points rather evenly distributed in the low amplitude range, for equal size transistors.

    [0054] Figure 8a shows an example of an amplifier arrangement comprising five amplifier stages 101 to 105, i.e. N=5.

    [0055] The amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114 coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement. The cascade comprises four (N-1) quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114 of decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node.

    [0056] An amplifier of the fifth stage 105 is coupled to the output node 15, and remaining amplifiers between the first and fifth stages, i.e. the amplifiers of stages 102 to 104, coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114.

    [0057] The amplifier arrangement is configured such that the amplifier 105 of the fifth stage is coupled to the output node 15 via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131, with each of the remaining amplifiers of the three stages closest to the output node 15 (i.e. amplifiers 103 and 104 in this example) being coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 132 and 133 to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0058] Figure 8b shows a plot of current against output amplitude for the five-stage embodiment of the present invention as shown in Figure 8a. The order of the amplifier starting points in this example is amplifier 105 starting at zero, amplifier 104 starting at 0.2 of full output amplitude, amplifier 103 starting at 0.25 of full output amplitude, amplifier 101 starting at 0.47 of full output amplitude, and amplifier 102 starting at 0.62 of full output amplitude.

    [0059] Also, in this case (and as we will see, in general) all current amplitudes shown in Figure 8b are linear from their starting points up to the maximum output. This has the advantage of making the drive signals easier to achieve, since no amplitude limiting is necessary.

    [0060] Figure 8c shows the voltages of the respective amplifier stages 101 to 105 relative to full output amplitude.

    [0061] Referring to Figure 8d, the efficiency curve for an amplifier designed for five equal size transistors has five peaks; at 0.20, 0.25, 0.47, 0.62 and 1 of full output amplitude. This distribution of transition points is advantageous for high-PAR signals, and better that the prior art solutions for all relevant Rayleigh PAR values, as shown in Figure 9.

    [0062] Figure 10a shows an example of an amplifier arrangement comprising six amplifier stages 101 to 106, i.e. N=6.

    [0063] The amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 115 coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement. The cascade comprises five (N-1) quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 115 of decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node.

    [0064] An amplifier of the sixth stage 106 is coupled to the output node 15, and remaining amplifiers between the first and sixth stages, i.e. the amplifiers of stages 102 to 105 in this example, coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 115.

    [0065] The amplifier arrangement is configured such that the amplifier 106 of the sixth stage is coupled to the output node 15 via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131, with each of the remaining amplifiers of the four stages closest to the output node 15 (i.e. amplifiers 103 to 105 in this example) being coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 132 to 134 to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0066] Figure 10b shows a plot of current against output amplitude for the six-stage embodiment of the present invention as shown in Figure 10a. The order of the amplifier starting points in this example is amplifier 106 starting at zero, amplifier 105 starting at 0.17 of full output amplitude, amplifier 104 starting at 0.2 of full output amplitude, amplifier 103 starting at 0.37 of full output amplitude, amplifier 101 starting at 0.47 of full output amplitude, and amplifier 102 starting at 0.69 of full output amplitude.

    [0067] Also, in this case all current amplitudes shown in Figure 10b are linear from their starting points up to the maximum output. This has the advantage of making the drive signals easier to achieve, since no amplitude limiting is necessary.

    [0068] Figure 10c shows the voltages of the respective amplifier stages 101 to 106 relative to full output amplitude.

    [0069] Referring to Figure 10d, this shows the efficiency curve, using six transistors of substantially equal size, having six peaks; at 0.17, 0.20, 0.37, 0.47, 0.69 and 1 of full output amplitude. This distribution of transition points is advantageous for high-PAR signals, and improved compared to the prior art solutions for essentially all Rayleigh PAR values, as shown in Figure 11.

    [0070] Embodiments for an increasing number of amplifier stages can be configured in a similar manner to the embodiments of Figures 6a, 8a, and 10a.

    [0071] Figure 12 compares the efficiency of a 7-stage amplifier arrangement with prior art solutions (all designed for substantially equal sized transistors or amplifiers).

    [0072] Figure 13 compares the efficiency of a 8-stage amplifier arrangement with prior art solutions (all designed for substantially equal sized transistors or amplifiers).

    [0073] Figure 14 compares the efficiency of a 9-stage amplifier arrangement with prior art solutions (all designed for substantially equal sized transistors or amplifiers).

    [0074] Figure 15 compares the efficiency of a 10-stage amplifier arrangement with prior art solutions (all designed for substantially equal sized transistors or amplifiers).

    [0075] It can be seen from the above that the embodiments of the invention thus perform generally better than prior art Doherty amplifiers in relation to average efficiency for high-PAR signals. It is noted that the relative advantage increases with increasing numbers of amplifier stages.

    [0076] According to another aspect of the present invention, the transition points at which amplifier stages switch into operation can be distributed more evenly. This improved distribution of transition points may be achieved by making the starting amplifier, i.e. the transistor closest to the output (the Nth amplifier stage of the embodiments described above), smaller compared to the others. For example, according to one example the Nth amplifier is made about half the size (e.g. half the output current rating) compared to the remaining amplifiers. In such an embodiment the connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131 from the Nth amplifier 10N (i.e. from 104) is increased compared to the characteristic impedance of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines 131 to 13N-2 (as illustrated by the reduced comparative thickness of 131). For example, in an example where the size of the Nth amplifier is halved, the characteristic impedance of the corresponding connecting quarter wavelength transmission line can be twice the characteristic impedance of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0077] Figure 16a shows such a configuration for a 4-stage amplifier, although it is noted that this aspect can be used with any number of stages of four and above.

    [0078] As with the four stage example of Figure 6a, Figure 16a shows an amplifier arrangement comprising four amplifier stages, 101 to 104, and a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 113 coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement. The cascade comprises three quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 113 in this example, of decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node.

    [0079] An amplifier of the 4th stage 104 is coupled to the output node, and remaining amplifiers between the 1st and 3rd stages (amplifiers 102 and 103 in this example) are coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 113.

    [0080] The amplifier arrangement is configured such that the amplifier of the 4th stage 104 is coupled to the output node 15 via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131, with each of the remaining amplifiers closest to the output node 15 apart from the first and second amplifiers 101, 102 (being just the amplifier of stage 103 in this example), being coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (132 in this example) to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0081] According to the embodiment of Figure 16a the amplifier in the Nth amplifier stage 10N (closest to the output node), i.e. the fourth amplifier 104, is reduced in size compared to the other amplifiers in the other amplifier stages 101 to 10N-1 The characteristic impedance of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131 coupling the amplifier in the Nth amplifier stage to the output node is increased by a corresponding ratio compared to the characteristic impedance of each of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines 132 to 13N-2, (i.e. compared to 132 in this example).

    [0082] For example, in one embodiment the amplifier in the Nth amplifier stage 10N is substantially halved in size compared to the other amplifiers in the other amplifier stages 101 to 10N-1, and wherein the characteristic impedance of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131 coupling the amplifier in the Nth stage to the output node is substantially doubled in size compared to the characteristic impedance of each of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines 132 to 13N-2.

    [0083] This has the advantage that the smaller amplifier in the stage closest to the output node allows the distribution of transition points to be improved, as reflected in Figure 16b, whereby the transition points occur at 0.14, 0.33 and 0.57 of full output amplitude, thus being more evenly spread than the previous embodiments.

    [0084] Figure 16c shows the voltages of the respective amplifier stages 101 to 104 relative to full output amplitude.

    [0085] Referring to Figure 16d, the efficiency curve for such an amplifier designed for four amplifier stages with the closest to the output being smaller in size has four peaks; at 0.14, 0.33, 0.57, 0.62 and 1 of full output amplitude. This distribution of transition points is advantageous for high-PAR signals, and better that the prior art solutions for all relevant Rayleigh PAR values. In particular, such an evenly distribution of transition points would generally require more different sizes of transistors if prior art Doherty amplifiers were used.

    [0086] The same advantageous property is consistently achieved for higher numbers of stages, as shown in Figures 17a-17d for a 5-stage amplifier, Figures 18a-18d for a 6-stage amplifier, Figures 19a-19d for a 7-stage amplifier, Figures 20a-20d for a 8-stage amplifier, Figures 21a-21d for a 9-stage amplifier, and Figures 22a-22d for a 10-stage amplifier. The same applies for higher orders of amplifier stages.

    [0087] These embodiments have the advantage that the entire set of transition points become evenly distributed even though the size of only one amplifier is changed, for example halved, thus enabling the construction of the amplifier arrangement to be simplified.

    [0088] According to another aspect of the present invention, another way to achieve a more even distribution of efficiency peaks is by increasing the size of the amplifier second closest to the output (also known as the "first peaking amplifier") relative to the other amplifiers, For example, according to one embodiment this amplifier may be increased by 25-50% relative to the other amplifiers. In such an embodiment the characteristic impedance of the respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 132 is decreased by some corresponding function (as illustrated by the increased comparative thickness of 132).

    [0089] Figure 23a shows such a configuration for a 5-stage amplifier, although it is noted that this aspect can be used with any number of stages of four and above.

    [0090] As with the five stage example of Figure 8a, Figure 23a shows an amplifier arrangement comprising five amplifier stages, 101 to 105, and a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114 coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement. The cascade comprises four quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114 in this example, of decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node.

    [0091] An amplifier of the 5th stage 105 is coupled to the output node, and remaining amplifiers between the 1st and 4th stages (amplifiers 102,103 and 104 in this example) are coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114.

    [0092] The amplifier arrangement is configured such that the amplifier of the 5th stage 105 is coupled to the output node 15 via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131, with each of the remaining amplifiers closest to the output node 15 apart from the first and second amplifiers 101, 102, (being the amplifiers of stages 103 and 104 in this example), being coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (132, 133 in this example) to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0093] According to the embodiment of Figure 23a, each of the amplifiers in the N amplifier stages (i.e. 101 to 105) is of a substantially equal size apart from an amplifier in the N-1 amplifier stage 10N-1 (i.e. 104) that is second closest to the output node, wherein the amplifier in this 4th stage is increased in size relative to the amplifiers in the other stages 101 to 10N-2, 10N (i.e. amplifiers 101 to 103, 105 in this example).

    [0094] According to one embodiment, the amplifier in the N-1 stage 10N-1 (i.e. the amplifier of the 4th stage 104 in this example) is increased in size compared to the other amplifiers in the other amplifier stages, and wherein the characteristic impedance of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 132 coupling the amplifier in the N-1 stage (4th stage in this example) to the cascade is decreased compared to the characteristic impedance of each of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines 131, 133 to 13N-2 (131 and 133 in this example).

    [0095] For example, according to one embodiment the amplifier in the 4th stage 104 is increased by about 25-50% in size compared to the other amplifiers in the other amplifier stages (101 to 103, 10N), and wherein the characteristic impedance of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (132) coupling the amplifier in the 4th stage to the cascade is substantially decreased by about 20-50% compared to the characteristic impedance of each of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines (131 and 133).

    [0096] For example, the amplifier in the 4th stage can be about 30% larger than the other amplifiers, and the characteristic impedance of its connecting quarter wavelength transmission line correspondingly 23 % lower than for the rest of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0097] As mentioned above, this has the benefit of providing a more even distribution of transition points.

    [0098] This has the advantage that the larger amplifier in the stage second closest to the output node allows the distribution of transition points to be improved further, as reflected in Figure 23b, whereby the transition points occur at 0.19, 0.3, 0.46 and 0.65 of full output amplitude, thus being more evenly spread than other embodiments.

    [0099] Figure 23c shows the voltages of the respective amplifier stages 101 to 105 relative to full output amplitude.

    [0100] Referring to Figure 23d, the efficiency curve for such an amplifier designed for five amplifier stages with the stage second closest to the output being larger in size has five peaks; at 0.19, 0.3, 0.46, 0.65 and 1 of full output amplitude. This distribution of transition points is advantageous for high-PAR signals, and better that the prior art solutions for all relevant Rayleigh PAR values. In particular, such an even distribution of transition points would generally require more different sizes of transistors if prior art Doherty amplifiers were used.

    [0101] The same advantageous property is consistently achieved for higher numbers of stages,

    [0102] It is noted that the values of increase and decrease given in the embodiments herein are examples only, and that variations can be made without departing from the invention as defined in the appended claims.

    [0103] It is noted that the embodiment of Figure 23a may be used in combination with one or more of the other embodiments described herein. For example, increasing the impedance of the last quarterwave line, for example by 33%, and reducing the size of the amplifier, for example to 75%, and reducing the impedance of the second last line, for example by 13%, and increasing the size of the corresponding amplifier, for example by 15%.

    [0104] Referring to Figure 24a, according to another aspect of the invention, the size of the last peaking amplifier (the amplifier of the second stage 102) can be increased, such that the entire set of efficiency peaks can be translated to lower amplitudes, and with retained evenness. This is shown in Figure 24a for a 6-stage amplifier, although it is noted that the same principle can be used for any number of stages from four and above.

    [0105] As with the 6 stage example of Figure 10a, Figure 24a shows an amplifier arrangement comprising 6 amplifier stages, 101 to 106, and a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 115 coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement. The cascade comprises five quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 115 in this example, of decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node.

    [0106] An amplifier of the 6th stage 106 is coupled to the output node, and remaining amplifiers between the 1st and 6th stages (amplifiers 102 to 105 in this example) are coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 115.

    [0107] The amplifier arrangement is configured such that the amplifier of the 6th stage 106 is coupled to the output node 15 via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131, with each of the remaining amplifiers closest to the output node 15 apart from the first and second amplifiers 101,102 (being the amplifiers of stages 103 , 104 and 105 in this example), being coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (132, 133 and 134 in this example) to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0108] According to the embodiment of Figure 24a the amplifier in the second stage 102 is increased or decreased compared to the other amplifiers in at least the first to N-2 other amplifier stages 101, 103 to 10N-2, (i.e. compared to at least the amplifiers 101 and 103 to 104 in this example), and the characteristic impedance decreased or increased in a corresponding manner.

    [0109] By increasing the size of this amplifier in the second stage 102, effectively the last peaking amplifier, this causes the entire set of efficiency peaks to be translated to lower amplitudes, with retained evenness. Likewise, decreasing the size of this amplifier causes the whole bunch of efficiency peaks to be translated to higher amplitudes, also with retained evenness

    [0110] Since the amplifier of the second stage is increased in the example of Figure 24a, Figure 24b shows how the transition points have been shifted to occur at 0.06, 0.12, 0.19, 0.27 and 0.35 of full output amplitude, while maintaining the more evenly spread compared to other embodiment.

    [0111] Figure 24b shows the voltages of the respective amplifier stages 101 to 106 relative to full output amplitude.

    [0112] Referring to Figure 24d, the efficiency curve for such an amplifier designed for six amplifier stages with the stage second closest to the input being larger in size has six peaks; at 0.06, 0.12, 0.19, 0.27, 0.35 and 1 of full output amplitude. This distribution of transition points is advantageous for high-PAR signals, and better that the prior art solutions for all relevant Rayleigh PAR values.

    [0113] In the example of Figure 24a the amplifier of the second stage is four times as large as the four 'middle' amplifiers. This efficiency peak shift can be made larger or smaller without disturbing the evenness of the efficiency peaks. A shift in the other direction is achieved by making the transistor smaller instead. Also in this case the evenness of the efficiency peak distribution is retained.

    [0114] It is noted that the embodiment of Figure 24a may be used in combination with any one or more of the other embodiments described herein. For example, increasing the impedance of the last quarterwave line, for example by 33%, and reducing the size of the amplifier, for example to 75%, and reducing the impedance of the second last line, for example by 13%, and increasing the size of the corresponding amplifier, for example by 15%.

    [0115] It is noted that in the embodiments described herein, any quarterwave line can double as an impedance transformer, i.e. the impedance and corresponding maximum RF voltage swings can be individually adjusted for each transistor. This can be useful if one or more of the transistors are made with a different technology having a different voltage rating. It can also be beneficial to use these transformations to accommodate a different load impedance, instead of making this transformation outside of the Doherty amplifier which would require extra impedance transformers. Apart from these considerations, it can be advantageous to have as little extra impedance transformations as possible in the Doherty network, since this generally gives high bandwidth and low sensitivity.

    [0116] Transistors in general act as controlled RF current sources, so the shape of the amplitudes and phases (relative to that of the output) of the RF currents as functions of the output amplitude also suggest the shaping that must be performed to the input signals to the transistors, i.e. the gate drive voltages. The actual shapes may have to take into account that the voltage-to-current conversion (transconductance) in the transistors is more or less nonlinear, and that the RF voltage swing can influence the output current as well (especially via saturation when close to the upper limit). Causing a transistor to turn on at a higher amplitude is often done by lowering the gate bias to the transistor, i.e. operating in class C. This means that less large-scale amplitude shaping needs to be done earlier in the processing chain, but usually at the cost of lower gain and lower maximum output power.

    [0117] It is also noted that any of the transmission lines in the examples described herein can be wholly or partially replaced by combinations of lumped elements. For example, the quarterwave lines can be replaced by LC pi- or T-networks with inductors (L) and capacitors (C) with reactances equal in magnitude to the characteristic impedance of the replaced quarterwave line.

    [0118] The embodiments of the invention provide advantageous Doherty amplifiers with four or more stages. For high PAR signals, the distribution of transition points when equal size transistors are used is improved compared to prior art Doherty amplifiers.

    [0119] According to some embodiments, by simply halving the size of one transistor, and doubling the characteristic impedance of the corresponding quarterwave line, the efficiency peaks can be distributed even more evenly, which increases average efficiency for high-PAR signals. According to other embodiments, by changing the size of another transistor (for example the second amplifier stage), the whole bunch of efficiency peaks can be moved to higher or lower amplitude ranges, with retained evenness. Good dimensioning is thus easily achieved.

    [0120] Another advantageous property of the embodiments described herein is that the drive signal shaping is simple. In one embodiment, only different gains and different static gate biases are necessary.

    [0121] Figure 25 shows a method of improving the efficiency of an amplifier arrangement comprising N amplifier stages 101 to 10N, wherein N is an integer equal or greater than four, wherein the amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement, wherein the cascade comprises N-1 quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 11N-1, and wherein an amplifier of the Nth stage 10N is coupled to the output node 15, and remaining amplifiers between the first and Nth stages 102 to 10N-1 coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 11N-1.

    [0122] The method comprises the steps of coupling the amplifier of the Nth stage 10N to the output node 15 via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 131, step 2501. Each of the remaining amplifiers 103 to 10N-1 in the N-2 stages closest to the output node 15 is coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 132 to 13N-2 to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines, step 2503.

    [0123] Figure 26a shows an amplifier arrangement according to another aspect, with Figures 26b to 26d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 26a.

    [0124] The arrangement of Figure 26a is a six-stage amplifier arrangement similar to that of Figure 10a. However, according to this particular aspect, the Nth amplifier 106 is coupled directly to the output node 15, rather than via a connecting transmission line as provided in Figure 10a. Also, in this arrangement the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines comprises N-2 stages, i.e. 111 to 114, rather than N-1 stages as provided in Figure 10a. Thus, Figure 26a shows an example of an amplifier arrangement comprising six amplifier stages 101 to 106, i.e. N=6.

    [0125] The amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114 coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement. The cascade comprises four (N-2) quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114 of decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node.

    [0126] An amplifier of the sixth stage 106 is coupled to the output node 15, and remaining amplifiers between the first and sixth stages, i.e. the amplifiers of stages 102 to 105 in this example, coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114.

    [0127] The amplifier arrangement is configured such that the amplifier 106 of the sixth stage is coupled directly to the output node 15, with each of the remaining amplifiers of the four stages closest to the output node 15 (i.e. amplifiers 103 to 105 in this example) being coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 13 to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0128] Figure 26b shows a plot of current against output amplitude for the six-stage arrangement as shown in Figure 26a. The order of the amplifier starting points in this example is amplifier 105 starting at zero, amplifier 104 starting at 0.17 of full output amplitude, amplifier 103 starting at 0.25 of full output amplitude, amplifier 101 starting at 0.39 of full output amplitude, amplifier 102 starting at 0.62 of full output amplitude, and amplifier 106 starting at 0.83 of full output amplitude.

    [0129] Figure 26c shows the voltages of the respective amplifier stages 101 to 106 relative to full output amplitude.

    [0130] Referring to Figure 26d, this shows the efficiency curve, using six transistors of substantially equal size, having six peaks; at 0.17, 0.25, 0.39, 0.62, 0.83 and 1 of full output amplitude.

    [0131] Figure 27a shows an amplifier arrangement according to another aspect, with Figures 27b to 27d showing current, voltage and efficiency curves for the amplifier arrangement of Figure 27a.

    [0132] The arrangement of Figure 27a is an example of a eight-stage amplifier arrangement. According to this particular aspect, the Nth amplifier 108 is coupled directly to the output node 15, rather than via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line. Also, in this arrangement the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines comprises N-2 stages, i.e. 111 to 116, rather than N-1 stages as provided in the earlier embodiments. Thus, Figure 27a shows an example of an amplifier arrangement comprising eight amplifier stages 101 to 108, i.e. N=8.

    [0133] The amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 116 coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage 101 and an output node 15 of the amplifier arrangement. The cascade comprises six (N-2) quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 116 of decreasing characteristic impedance towards the output node.

    [0134] An amplifier of the sixth stage 106 is coupled to the output node 15, and remaining amplifiers between the first and sixth stages, i.e. the amplifiers of stages 102 to 105 in this example, coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines 111 to 114.

    [0135] The amplifier arrangement is configured such that the amplifier 108 of the eighth stage is coupled directly to the output node 15, with each of the remaining amplifiers of the six stages closest to the output node 15 (i.e. amplifiers 103 to 107 in this example) being coupled by a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line 13 to a junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines.

    [0136] Figure 27b shows a plot of current against output amplitude for the eight-stage arrangement as shown in Figure 27a. The order of the amplifier starting points in this example is amplifier 107 starting at zero, amplifier 106 starting at 0.12 of full output amplitude, amplifier 105 starting at 0.17 of full output amplitude, amplifier 104 starting at 0.27 of full output amplitude, amplifier 103 starting at 0.37 of full output amplitude amplifier, 101 starting at 0.47 of full output amplitude, amplifier 102 starting at 0.69 of full output, and amplifier 108 starting at 0.87 of full output amplitude.

    [0137] Figure 27c shows the voltages of the respective amplifier stages 101 to 108 relative to full output amplitude.

    [0138] Referring to Figure 26d, this shows the efficiency curve, using eight transistors of substantially equal size, having six peaks; at 0.12, 0.17, 0.27, 0.37, 0.47, 0.69, 0.87 and 1 of full output amplitude.


    Claims

    1. An amplifier arrangement comprising N amplifier stages (101 to 10N), wherein N is an integer equal or greater than four; the amplifier arrangement comprising:

    a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage (101) and an output node (15) of the amplifier arrangement, wherein the cascade comprises N-1 quarter wavelength transmission lines (111 to 11N-1);

    wherein an amplifier of the Nth stage (10N) is coupled to the output node (15), and remaining amplifiers between the first and the Nth stage (102 to 10N-1) coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines (111 to 11N-1); and

    wherein the amplifier arrangement is further configured such that:

    the coupling of the amplifier of the Nth stage (10N) to the output node (15) is via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (131); each coupling of the remaining amplifiers amongst the N-2 stages (103 to 10N-1) closest to the output node (15) is via a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (132 to 13N-2) to a respective junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines; and

    an amplifier of the second stage (102) is directly coupled to its respective junction in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines (111 to 11N-1).


     
    2. An amplifier as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of the amplifiers in the N amplifier stages (101 to 10N) is of an equal size.
     
    3. An amplifier as claimed in claim 1 or 2, wherein a characteristic impedance of each successive stage in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines (111 to 11N-1) is reduced towards the output node in relation to the parallel combination of preceding connecting transmission lines, whereby the characteristic impedance of each successive stage is reduced to 1/M of the impedance of the transmission line from a single amplifier, whereby M relates to the number of preceding amplifiers.
     
    4. An amplifier as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the characteristic impedance of each of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines (131 to 13N-2) is equal.
     
    5. An amplifier as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of the amplifiers in the first to N-1 amplifier stages (101 to 10N-1) is of an equal size, and wherein the amplifier in the Nth amplifier stage (10N) which is closest to the output node (15) is different in size to the other amplifiers.
     
    6. An amplifier as claimed in claim 5, wherein the amplifier in the Nth amplifier stage (10N) is reduced in size compared to the other amplifiers in the other amplifier stages (101 to 10N-1), and wherein the characteristic impedance of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (131) coupling the amplifier in the Nth amplifier stage to the output node is increased by a corresponding ratio compared to the characteristic impedance of each of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines (132 to 13N-2).
     
    7. An amplifier as claimed in claim 6, wherein the amplifier in the Nth amplifier stage (10N) is substantially halved in size compared to the other amplifiers in the other amplifier stages (101 to 10N-1), and wherein the characteristic impedance of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (131) coupling the amplifier in the Nth stage to the output node is substantially doubled in size compared to the characteristic impedance of each of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines (132 to 13N-2).
     
    8. An amplifier as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of the amplifiers in the N amplifier stages (101 to 10N) is of a substantially equal size apart from an amplifier in the N-1 amplifier stage (10N-1) that is second closest to the output node, wherein the amplifier in the N-1 stage is increased in size relative to the amplifiers in the other stages (101 to 10N-2, 10N).
     
    9. An amplifier as claimed in claim 8, wherein the amplifier in the N-1 stage (10N-1) is increased in size compared to the other amplifiers in the other amplifier stages, and wherein the characteristic impedance of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (132) coupling the amplifier in the N-1 stage to the cascade is decreased compared to the characteristic impedance of each of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines (131, 133 to 13N-2).
     
    10. An amplifier as claimed in claim 9, wherein the amplifier in the N-1 stage (10N-1) is increased by about 25-50% in size compared to the other amplifiers in the other amplifier stages (101 to 10N-2, 10N), and wherein the characteristic impedance of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (132) coupling the amplifier in the N-1 stage to the cascade is substantially decreased by about 20-50% compared to the characteristic impedance of each of the other connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines (131, 133 to 13N-2).
     
    11. An amplifier as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the amplifier in the second stage (102) is increased or decreased compared to the other amplifiers in at least the first to N-2 other amplifier stages (101, 103 to 10N-2), and the characteristic impedance decreased or increased in a corresponding manner.
     
    12. A method of improving the efficiency of an amplifier arrangement comprising N amplifier stages (101 to 10N), wherein N is an integer equal or greater than four; wherein the amplifier arrangement comprises a cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines coupled between an output of an amplifier of a first amplifier stage (101) and an output node (15) of the amplifier arrangement, wherein the cascade comprises N-1 quarter wavelength transmission lines (111 to 11N-1), and wherein an amplifier of the Nth stage (10N) is coupled to the output node (15), and remaining amplifiers between the first and the Nth stage (102 to 10N-1) coupled to successive junctions in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines (111 to 11N-1); the method comprising the steps of:

    coupling the amplifier of the Nth stage (10N) to the output node (15) via a connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (131);

    coupling each of the remaining amplifiers (103 to 10N-1) in the N-2 stages (103 to 10N-1) closest to the output node (15) via a respective connecting quarter wavelength transmission line (132 to 13N-2) to a respective junction of the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines; and

    coupling an amplifier of the second stage (102) directly to its respective junction in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines (111 to 11N-1).


     
    13. A method as claimed in claim 12, wherein each of the amplifiers in the N amplifier stages (101 to 10N) is of an equal size.
     
    14. A method as claimed in claim 12 or 13, further comprising the step of reducing a characteristic impedance of each successive stage in the cascade of quarter wavelength transmission lines (111 to 11N-1) towards the output node in relation to the parallel combination of preceding connecting transmission lines, whereby the characteristic impedance of each successive stage is reduced to 1/M of the impedance of the transmission line from a single amplifier, whereby M relates to the number of preceding amplifiers.
     
    15. A method as claimed in any one of claims 12 to 14, wherein the characteristic impedance of each of the connecting quarter wavelength transmission lines (131 to 13N-2) is equal.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verstärkeranordnung, umfassend N Verstärkerstufen (101 bis 10N), wobei N eine ganze Zahl gleich oder größer als vier ist; wobei die Verstärkeranordnung umfasst:

    eine Kaskade von Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen, die zwischen einer Ausgabe eines Verstärkers einer ersten Verstärkerstufe (101) und einem Ausgabeknoten (15) der Verstärkeranordnung gekoppelt sind, wobei die Kaskade N-1 Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (111 bis 11N-1) umfasst;

    wobei ein Verstärker der N-ten Stufe (10N) mit dem Ausgabeknoten (15) gekoppelt ist, und verbleibende Verstärker zwischen der ersten und der N-ten Stufe (102 bis 10N-1) mit aufeinanderfolgenden Anschlussstellen in der Kaskade von Viertelwellenübertragungsleitungen (111 bis 11N-1) gekoppelt sind; und

    wobei die Verstärkeranordnung weiter so konfiguriert ist, dass:

    die Kopplung des Verstärkers der N-ten Stufe (10N) mit dem Ausgabeknoten (15) über eine Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitung (131) erfolgt;

    jede Kopplung der verbleibenden Verstärker zwischen den N-2 Stufen (103 bis 10N-1), die dem Ausgabeknoten (15) am nächsten liegen, über eine entsprechende Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitung (132 bis 13N-2) mit einer jeweiligen Anschlussstelle der Kaskade von Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen erfolgt; und

    ein Verstärker der zweiten Stufe (102) direkt mit seiner jeweiligen Anschlussstelle in der Kaskade von Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (111 bis 11N-1) gekoppelt ist.


     
    2. Verstärker nach Anspruch 1, wobei jeder der Verstärker in den N Verstärkerstufen (101 bis 10N) von gleicher Größe ist.
     
    3. Verstärker nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei eine Wellenlängenimpedanz jeder nachfolgenden Stufe in der Kaskade von Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (111 bis 11N-1) in Bezug auf die Parallelkombination von vorhergehenden Verbindungs-Übertragungsleitungen zum Ausgabeknoten hin reduziert wird, wobei die Wellenwiderstand jeder nachfolgenden Stufe auf 1/M der Impedanz der Übertragungsleitung von einem einzelnen Verstärker reduziert wird, wobei M sich auf die Anzahl der vorhergehenden Verstärker bezieht.
     
    4. Verstärker nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei der Wellenwiderstand jeder der Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (131 bis 13N-2) gleich ist.
     
    5. Verstärker nach Anspruch 1, wobei jeder der Verstärker in den ersten bis N-1 Verstärkerstufen (101 bis 10N-1) von gleicher Größe ist, und
    wobei der Verstärker in der N-ten Verstärkerstufe (10N), die dem Ausgabeknoten (15) am nächsten liegt, in seiner Größe von den anderen Verstärkern verschieden ist.
     
    6. Verstärker nach Anspruch 5, wobei der Verstärker in der N-ten Verstärkerstufe (10N) im Vergleich zu den anderen Verstärkern in den anderen Verstärkerstufen (101 bis 10N-1) im Wesentlichen halbiert ist, und wobei der Wellenlängenwiderstand der Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitung (131), die den Verstärker in der N-ten Stufe mit dem Ausgabeknoten koppelt, im Vergleich zur Wellenwiderstand jeder der anderen Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (132 bis 13N-2) erhöht ist.
     
    7. Verstärker nach Anspruch 6, wobei der Verstärker in der N-ten Verstärkerstufe (10N) im Vergleich zu den anderen Verstärkern in den anderen Verstärkerstufen (101 bis 10N-1), im Wesentlichen halbiert ist, und wobei der Wellenlängenwiderstand der Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitung (131), die den Verstärker in der N-ten Stufe mit dem Ausgabeknoten koppelt, im Vergleich zur Wellenwiderstand jeder der anderen Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (132 bis 13N-2) im Wesentlichen verdoppelt ist.
     
    8. Verstärker nach Anspruch 1, wobei jeder der Verstärker in den N Verstärkerstufen (101 bis 10N) von einer im Wesentlichen gleichen Größe ist, abgesehen von einem Verstärker in der N-1-Verstärkerstufe (10N-1) der dem Ausgabeknoten am zweitnächsten ist, wobei der Verstärker in der N-1-Stufe im Vergleich zu den Verstärkern in den anderen Stufen (101 bis 10N-2, 10N) vergrößert ist.
     
    9. Verstärker nach Anspruch 8, wobei der Verstärker in der N-1-Stufe (10N-1) im Vergleich zu den anderen Verstärkern in den anderen Verstärkerstufen vergrößert ist, und wobei der Wellenlängenwiderstand der Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitung (132), die den Verstärker in der N-1-Stufe mit der Kaskade koppelt, im Vergleich zur Wellenwiderstand jeder der anderen Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (131, 133 bis 13N-2) verringert ist.
     
    10. Verstärker nach Anspruch 9, wobei der Verstärker in der N-1-Stufe (10N-1) um etwa 25-50 % größer ist als die anderen Verstärker in den anderen Verstärkerstufen (101 bis 10N-2, 10N), und wobei die Wellenlängen-Impedanz der Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitung (132), die den Verstärker in der N-1-Stufe mit der Kaskade koppelt, um etwa 20-50 % gegenüber der Wellenlängen-Impedanz jeder der anderen Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (131, 133 bis 13N-2) deutlich verringert ist.
     
    11. Verstärker nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Verstärker in der zweiten Stufe (102) im Vergleich zu den anderen Verstärkern in mindestens den ersten bis N-2 weiteren Verstärkerstufen (101, 103 bis 10N-2) erhöht oder verringert wird und der Wellenwiderstand entsprechend verringert oder erhöht wird.
     
    12. Verfahren zur Verbesserung des Wirkungsgrades einer Verstärkeranordnung, die N Verstärkerstufen (101 bis 10N), umfasst, wobei N eine ganze Zahl gleich oder größer als vier ist; wobei die Verstärkeranordnung eine Kaskade von Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen umfasst, die zwischen einer Ausgabe eines Verstärkers einer ersten Verstärkerstufe (101) und einem Ausgabeknoten (15) der Verstärkeranordnung gekoppelt sind, wobei die Kaskade N-1 Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (111 bis 11N-1) umfasst, und wobei ein Verstärker der N-ten Stufe (10N) mit dem Ausgabeknoten (15) gekoppelt ist, und verbleibende Verstärker zwischen der ersten und der N-ten Stufe (102 bis 10N-1) mit aufeinanderfolgenden Anschlussstellen in der Kaskade von Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (111 bis 11N-1) gekoppelt sind; wobei das Verfahren die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

    Kopplung des Verstärkers der N-ten Stufe (10N) mit dem Ausgabeknoten (15) über eine Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitung (131);

    Kopplung jedes der verbleibenden Verstärker (103 bis 10N-1) in den N-2 Stufen (103 bis 10N-1), die dem Ausgabeknoten (15) am nächsten liegen, über eine entsprechende Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitung (132 bis 13N-2) mit einer entsprechenden Anschlussstelle der Kaskade von Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen; und

    Koppeln eines Verstärkers der zweiten Stufe (102) direkt mit seiner jeweiligen Anschlussstelle in der Kaskade von Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (111 bis 11N-1).


     
    13. Verfahren nach Anspruch 12, wobei jeder der Verstärker in den N Verstärkerstufen (101 bis 10N) von gleicher Größe ist.
     
    14. Verfahren nach Anspruch 12 oder 13, weiter umfassend den Schritt des Reduzierens eines Wellenwiderstandes jeder nachfolgenden Stufe in der Kaskade von Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (111 bis 11N-1) in Richtung des Ausgabeknotens in Bezug auf die parallele Kombination von vorhergehenden Verbindungs-Übertragungsleitungen, wobei der Wellenwiderstand jeder nachfolgenden Stufe auf 1/M der Impedanz der Übertragungsleitung von einem einzelnen Verstärker reduziert wird, wobei M sich auf die Anzahl der vorhergehenden Verstärker bezieht.
     
    15. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 12 bis 14, wobei der Wellenwiderstand jeder der Verbindungs-Viertelwellenlängen-Übertragungsleitungen (131 bis 13N-2) gleich ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Agencement amplificateur comprenant N étages amplificateurs (101 à 10N), dans lequel N est un nombre entier égal ou supérieur à quatre; l'agencement amplificateur comprenant :

    une cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde couplées entre une sortie d'un amplificateur d'un premier étage amplificateur (101) et un nœud de sortie (15) de l'agencement amplificateur, dans lequel la cascade comprend N-1 lignes de transmission quart d'onde (111 à 11N-1) ;

    dans lequel un amplificateur du Nième étage (10N) est couplé au nœud de sortie (15), et des amplificateurs restants entre le premier et le Nième étage (102 à 10N-1) sont couplés à des jonctions successives dans la cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde (111 à 11N-1) ; et

    dans lequel l'agencement amplificateur est configuré en outre de telle sorte que :

    le couplage de l'amplificateur du Nième étage (10N) au nœud de sortie (15) se fait par l'intermédiaire d'une ligne de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (131) ; et

    chaque couplage des amplificateurs restants parmi les N-2 étages (103 à 10N-1) les plus proches du nœud de sortie (15) se fait par l'intermédiaire d'une ligne de transmission quart d'onde de liaison respective (132 à 13N-2) à une jonction respective de la cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde ; et

    un amplificateur du deuxième étage (102) est couplé directement à sa jonction respective dans la cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde (111 à 11N-1).


     
    2. Amplificateur selon la revendication 1, dans lequel chacun des amplificateurs des N étages amplificateurs (101 à 10N) est d'une taille égale.
     
    3. Amplificateur selon les revendications 1 ou 2, dans lequel une impédance caractéristique de chaque étage successif dans la cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde (111 à 11N-1) est réduite vers le nœud de sortie par rapport à la combinaison parallèle de lignes de transmission de liaison précédentes, moyennant quoi l'impédance caractéristique de chaque étage successif est réduite à 1/M de l'impédance de la ligne de transmission provenant d'un seul amplificateur, M se rapportant au nombre d'amplificateurs précédents.
     
    4. Amplificateur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans lequel l'impédance caractéristique de chacune des lignes de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (131 à 13N-2) est égale.
     
    5. Amplificateur selon la revendication 1, dans lequel chacun des amplificateurs des premier à N-1 étages amplificateurs (101 à 10N-1) est d'une taille égale, et
    dans lequel l'amplificateur du Nième étage amplificateur (10N) qui est le plus proche du nœud de sortie (15) présente une taille différente de celles des autres amplificateurs.
     
    6. Amplificateur selon la revendication 5, dans lequel l'amplificateur du Nième étage amplificateur (10N) présente une taille réduite par rapport à celle des autres amplificateurs des autres étages amplificateurs (101 à 10N-1), et dans lequel l'impédance caractéristique de la ligne de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (131) couplant l'amplificateur du Nième étage amplificateur au nœud de sortie est augmentée d'un rapport correspondant par rapport à l'impédance caractéristique de chacune des autres lignes de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (132 à 13N-2).
     
    7. Amplificateur selon la revendication 6, dans lequel la taille de l'amplificateur du Nième étage amplificateur (10N) est sensiblement réduite de moitié par rapport à celle des autres amplificateurs des autres étages amplificateurs (101 à 10N-1), et dans lequel l'impédance caractéristique de la ligne de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (131) couplant l'amplificateur du Nième étage au nœud de sortie est sensiblement doublée par rapport à l'impédance caractéristique de chacune des autres lignes de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (132 à 13N-2).
     
    8. Amplificateur selon la revendication 1, dans lequel chacun des amplificateurs des N étages amplificateurs (101 à 10N) est d'une taille sensiblement égale à l'exception d'un amplificateur de l'étage amplificateur N-1 (10N-1) qui est le suivant le plus proche du nœud de sortie, dans lequel la taille de l'amplificateur de l'étage N-1 est augmentée par rapport à celle des amplificateurs des autres étages (101 à 10N-2, 10N).
     
    9. Amplificateur selon la revendication 8, dans lequel la taille de l'amplificateur de l'étage N-1 (10N-1) est augmentée par rapport à celle des autres amplificateurs des autres étages amplificateurs, et dans lequel l'impédance caractéristique de la ligne de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (132) couplant l'amplificateur de l'étage N-1 à la cascade est diminuée par rapport à l'impédance caractéristique de chacune des autres lignes de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (131, 133 à 13N-2).
     
    10. Amplificateur selon la revendication 9, dans lequel la taille de l'amplificateur de l'étage N-1 (10N-1) est augmentée d'environ 25-50 % par rapport à celle des autres amplificateurs des autres étages amplificateurs (101 à 10N-2, 10N), et dans lequel l'impédance caractéristique de la ligne de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (132) couplant l'amplificateur de l'étage N-1 à la cascade est sensiblement diminuée d'environ 20-50 % par rapport à l'impédance caractéristique de chacune des autres lignes de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (131, 133 à 13N-2).
     
    11. Amplificateur selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la taille de l'amplificateur du deuxième étage (102) est augmentée ou diminuée par rapport à celle des autres amplificateurs au moins des premier à N-2 autres étages amplificateurs (101, 103 à 10N-2), et l'impédance caractéristique diminuée ou augmentée d'une manière correspondante.
     
    12. Procédé d'amélioration de l'efficacité d'un agencement amplificateur comprenant N étages amplificateurs (101 à 10N), dans lequel N est un nombre entier égal ou supérieur à quatre; dans lequel l'agencement amplificateur comprend une cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde couplées entre une sortie d'un amplificateur d'un premier étage amplificateur (101) et un nœud de sortie (15) de l'agencement amplificateur, dans lequel la cascade comprend N-1 lignes de transmission quart d'onde (111 à 11N-1), et dans lequel un amplificateur du Nième étage (10N) est couplé au nœud de sortie (15), et des amplificateurs restants entre le premier et le Nième étage (102 à 10N-1) sont couplés à des jonctions successives dans la cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde (111 à 11N-1) ; le procédé comprenant les étapes suivantes :

    couplage de l'amplificateur du Nième étage (10N) au nœud de sortie (15) par l'intermédiaire d'une ligne de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (131) ;

    couplage de chacun des amplificateurs restants (103 à 10N-1) des N-2 étages (103 à 10N-1) les plus proches du nœud de sortie (15) par l'intermédiaire d'une ligne de transmission quart d'onde de liaison respective (132 à 13N-2) à une jonction respective de la cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde ; et

    couplage d'un amplificateur du deuxième étage (102) directement à sa jonction respective dans la cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde (111 à 11N-1).


     
    13. Procédé selon la revendication 12, dans lequel chacun des amplificateurs des N étages amplificateurs (101 à 10N) est d'une taille égale.
     
    14. Procédé selon les revendications 12 ou 13, comprenant en outre l'étape de réduction d'une impédance caractéristique de chaque étage successif dans la cascade de lignes de transmission quart d'onde (111 à 11N-1) vers le nœud de sortie par rapport à la combinaison parallèle de lignes de transmission de liaison précédentes, moyennant quoi l'impédance caractéristique de chaque étage successif est réduite à 1/M de l'impédance de la ligne de transmission provenant d'un seul amplificateur, M se rapportant au nombre d'amplificateurs précédents.
     
    15. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 12 à 14, dans lequel l'impédance caractéristique de chacune des lignes de transmission quart d'onde de liaison (131 à 13N-2) est égale.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description




    Non-patent literature cited in the description