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When a signal drives an open-ended capacitor the average voltage level on the output terminal of the capacitor is determined by the initial charge on that terminal and may therefore be quite unpredictable. Thus it is necessary to connect the output to ground or some other reference voltage via a large resistor. This action drains any excess charge and results in an average or DC output voltage of zero.

A simple alternative method of establishing a DC reference for the output voltage is by using a diode clamp as shown in figure 4.11. By conducting whenever the voltage at the output terminal of the capacitor goes negative, this circuit builds up an average charge on the terminal that is sufficient to prevent the output from ever going negative. Positive charge on this terminal is effectively trapped.

Figure 4.11:  Diode clamp circuit and its output waveform.

Doug Gingrich
Tue Jul 13 16:55:15 EDT 1999