Uni-directional, Bidirectional or Bipolar amplifier

Another important element to consider is selecting a configuration with source and sink capabilities. An amplifier with absorbing capability can be much pricier than a standard sourcing amplifier. Depending on the application, the simulation setup needs to supply power to a load (known as sourcing) and/or to be able to absorb power (known as sinking). For example, the energy generated by braking in an engine can be reused to recharge its battery. We also see this bi-directional concept in micro grid applications where excess generated energy is sent back into the main grid of the energy supplier. When there is a shortage of self-generated energy, energy is then demanded again from the energy supplier.

Another example are bidirectional charging points that power the connected vehicle at times when there is energy surplus on the grid. But when there is a shortage, it will send the stored energy from the battery back to the grid. (V2G, V2X,…). So if the energy flow of an application has to go in both directions, an amplifier is needed that does both sourcing and sinking. This is where we then end up with bidirectional and bipolar or 4 quadrant amplifiers. The bidirectional amplifier is active in quadrant 1 and 2. The voltage remains positive but the current can be either positive or negative. The bipolar amplifier is active in all 4 quadrants and can handle both positive and negative voltages and currents.

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