What is an Operational Amplifier and a Voltage Regulator?

What is an Operational Amplifier and a Voltage Regulator?

A Hong Kong and Canada-based components distributor that provides domestic support services, Utmel Electronics has announced the availability of a linear operational amplifier and a voltage regulator for embedded applications across various industries. The linear operational amplifier LM324N, manufactured by ON Semiconductor, consists of four high gains, internally frequency compensated operational amplifiers designed to operate on a single power source over a wide range of voltages. While the voltage regulator LM317T, also manufactured by ON Semiconductor, is an adjustable 3-terminal positive voltage regulator capable of supplying excess 1.5A over an output voltage range of 1.2V to 37V.

What is an operational amplifier?

Operational amplifiers, also commonly referred to as op-amps, are basic building blocks for analog circuits. We typically find them in radio transceivers, and Analog Devices, being one of the top manufacturers of radio devices, you can find Op-amps in many of the schematics. Irrespective of the manufacturer, operational amplifiers are widely used embedded devices for ideal DC amplification and are adopted for signal filtering. An operational amplifier has three terminals consisting of two high impedance inputs out of which one of the inputs is called the inverting input (also marked with a negative sign) and the other input is the non-inverting input (marked with a positive sign). The third terminal is the output port that can sink and source voltage or current.

LM324 Operational Amplifier Internal Block Diagram

The LM324N quad operational amplifier features a large DC voltage gain of around 100 dB, and a wide power supply range of 3V to 32V depending on the version– LM324/LM324A. Some of the other features are that the input common-mode voltage range includes ground, and the large output voltage swing ranges from 0V to Vcc-1.5. The company provides more details on the application areas for the operation amplifier, and those include transducer amplifiers, DC gain blocks, and all the conventional operational amplifier circuits that can be easily implemented in a single power supply system.

Since LM324N is a linear operational amplifier, the output signal is the amplifier factor, also known as amplifier gain multiplied by the value of the input signal. Because most of the analog circuits today demand voltage amplifiers, LM324N is a linear voltage amplifier with Vin and Vout as the input and output signals.

What is a voltage regulator?

The voltage regulator is part of a power supply unit that ensures a steady voltage supply across all operating conditions. The device is primarily used for regular voltages during power fluctuations and variations in the load. Voltage regulators are commonly classified as linear and switching regulators. Linear regulators use internal circuitry and use a differential amplifier to control output voltage against the reference voltage while switching regulators toggle a series of devices on and off at high frequency. However, the LM317T voltage regulator falls under the category of DC linear adjustable voltage that allows modifying the output voltage based on the two resistors.

LM317T Voltage Regulator

The LM317T adjustable output voltage regulator is a 3-terminal device and is claimed to be “b” with only two external resistors to set the output voltage. The 3-terminals are adjustment, Vout, and Vin with a heatsink surface connected to pin 2 (Vout). The LM317T voltage regulator employs an internal current limiting circuit, thermal shutdown, and safe area compensation for making it “blow-out proof.” Current limiting is included to limit the peak output current to a safe value, while a thermal shutdown is provided to keep the IC from overheating. If the internal dissipation increases, the regulator will shut down to prevent excessive heating.

The LM317T voltage regulator serves a wide range of applications including local, on-card regulation. For it to behave as a precision current regulator, the developer can make a programmable output regulator by connecting a fixed resistor between the adjustment and output.


Linear operational amplifiers, LM324, are widely used in analog and power applications such as voltage buffers, analog filters, and threshold detections, among many others. Voltage regulators, LM317T, are one of the important components of any electronic circuit that uses a power supply unit of any scale. As they take care of the voltage regulator for fluctuations, they keep the internal circuitry safe. Utmel Electronics has not provided pricing for the LM324N linear operational amplifier, but interested people can request a quote with the quantity required. The same applies to LM317T for which you can request a quote.

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About Abhishek Jadhav

Abhishek Jadhav is an engineering student, RISC-V ambassador and a freelance technology and science writer with bylines at Wevolver, Electromaker, Embedded Computing Design, Electronics-Lab, Hackster, and EdgeIR.

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