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Application Notes by Jim Williams

On this page you will find some of the most interesting application notes by Jim Williams, analog electronics guru at Linear Technology. Some of the titles of the app notes look as if they would only cover a very narrow subject, like performance measurements of some specific electronic device which may not be relevant anymore (some of the app notes are from the 1980s). However, the real interesting discussions that are timeless and give advice that is applicable independently of the covered devices is often "hidden" by Williams in the appendices. Actually, whenever I see an app note from him I first scroll down to the appendices. Williams covers a lot of advanced techniques. If you already have some practical experience with electronics, then I am sure that you will find a lot of inspiration in his app notes (and his writing style makes them fun to read too). If, however, you are relatively new to electronics, you may find the comprehensive discussions in the Analog Devices seminar notes (where also some more elementary topics are covered) more useful. But even in this case you should at least look at AN47 (see below), this one is very widely applicable.

If the following small sample of his app notes raises your interest, you may want to browse through more of them. You could find them all at the Linear Technologies page, but I strongly recommend to look at them at the Reading Jim Williams blog by Kent Lundberg - you will find some incredibly insightful and fun-to-read remarks, full of additional technical details, about the app notes there.

The app note that is of interest for the widest audience is AN47 High Speed Amplifier Techniques. Some more probing and connection techniques can be found in Appendix C of AN70.

An older, but still very interesting app note is AN23 Micropower Circuits for Signal Conditioning.

The app note AN25 Switching Regulators for Poets is the first one in which Williams covers switching regulators.

In AN43 Bridge Circuits Williams shows, among many other discussions, several variants of a sinus oscillator that uses a Wien bridge to achieve ultra low distortion. 21 years later, in his last app note AN132 Fidelity Testing for A-D Converters he returns to this topic.

Some interesting circuits are contained in AN45 Measurement and Control Circuit Collection. Williams indicates the complexity of each circuit with a number of baby bottles - he was feeding his son while he was designing them.

Some difficulties that arise in low noise measurements are discusssed in AN124 775 Nanovolt Noise Measurement for A Low Noise Voltage Reference.

A relatively new app note (March 2010) that shows how to make measurements of the highest precision is AN120 1ppm Settling Time Measurement for a Monolithic 18-Bit DAC ( also see his older AN74 Component and Measurement Advances Ensure 16-Bit DAC Settling Time ). In a footnote on page 1 Williams explains that he put in some extra effort so that the tester will still fullfill the requirements of his company if he should not be available in 10 years. When I first read the app note, I thought he was joking (his funny remarks in the footnotes are part of the charm of his writings). But now it sounds kind of prophetic... Another recent app note discussing settling time measurements is AN128 2 Nanosecond 0.1 Percent Resolution Settling Time Measurement for Wideband Amplifiers.

You may also be interested in the book Analog Circuit Design that Williams edited. Four of the chapters were written by him.

Jim Williams died on June 12, 2011 at age 63 after he had suffered a stroke 2 days before. Here is a Tribute to Jim Williams by Linear Technologies. It is a very sad coincidence that analog electronics guru Bob Pease died in a car crash after attending his memorial service (see the bottom of the page about Pease columns). The world of analog electronics has lost two of its heroes in just a few days.

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