Comparison and Integration of Voltage and Charge Amplifiers for Capacitive ECG Measurements

Yijing Zhang (Corresponding author), Lin Xu, Myrthe van der Ven, S.F. Ouzounov, Mohammed Meftah, Massimo Mischi, Eugenio Cantatore, Pieter J.A. Harpe (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: Sensing with capacitive electrodes is of interest for long-term, comfortable bio-potential measurements (e.g., ECG). However, due to the small body-to-electrode capacitance (C e ), the design of the associated front-end amplifier remains a challenge. Both voltage amplifiers (VA) and charge amplifiers (CA) can be employed. While basic comparisons of both typologies were done before, this paper extends the comparison to their responses to artifacts (caused by motion or interference). Further, a VA-CA-switchable amplifier is proposed, allowing to adapt the amplifier type to different situations, and enabling to estimate the body-to-electrode capacitance C e in a passive way. Methods: A VA-CA switchable amplifier was implemented in a 180 nm CMOS process. The responses to artifacts for VA and CA were studied by modelling, simulations and experiments using the custom IC. The proposed C e estimation method was validated by electrical tests and in-vivo tests. Results: VAs are less affected by C e variation artifacts, while CAs recover faster from triboelectricity artifacts. In a VA, these two artifacts are multiplicative and get modulated if they occur simultaneously, but in a CA they remain independent. Conclusion: The combined VA-CA amplifier has the potential for optimal amplifier selection according to the properties of the recorded signal, the value of C e and the actual presence of artifacts. Moreover, it can estimate C e without extra hardware. Significance: The proposed VA-CA switchable structure is superior to an individual VA or CA, thanks its adaptability to signal quality and artifacts, and it provides extra information on the body-to-electrode interface quality (C e ).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-510
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
Early online date2 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


FundersFunder number
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek14663


    • bio-potential signal
    • Capacitance
    • Capacitive electrocardiography (ECG)
    • charge amplifier
    • Electrocardiography
    • electrode capacitance prediction
    • Electrodes
    • Impedance
    • Interference
    • motion artifacts
    • Sensors
    • Voltage
    • voltage amplifier


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