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Simple Definitions

The most important electronics terms, demystified in one place.

Voltage Follower

Our Take

Takes a low-impedance output and turns it into a high-impedance output without changing the voltage or the phase.

Book Definition

Also known as unity gain amplifier because the output follows the input.

Fundamentals of Electric Circuits, 5th Edition by Charles K. Alexander and Matthew N. O. Sadiku

Provides a gain of unity with no polarity or phase reversal.

Electronic Devices and Circuit Theory, 11th Edition by Robert L. Boylestad & Louis Nashelsky


A voltage buffer amplifier is used to transfer a voltage from a first circuit, having a high output impedance level, to a second circuit with a low input impedance level. The interposed buffer amplifier prevents the second circuit from loading the first circuit unacceptably and interfering with its desired operation. In the ideal voltage buffer in the diagram, the input resistance is infinite and the output resistance zero (output impedance of an ideal voltage source is zero). Other properties of the ideal buffer are: perfect linearity, regardless of signal amplitudes; and instant output response, regardless of the speed of the input signal.

If the voltage is transferred unchanged (the voltage gain Av is 1), the amplifier is a unity gain buffer; also known as a voltage follower because the output voltage follows or tracks the input voltage. Although the voltage gain of a voltage buffer amplifier may be (approximately) unity, it usually provides considerable current gain and thus power gain. However, it is commonplace to say that it has a gain of 1 (or the equivalent 0 dB), referring to the voltage gain.

As an example, consider a Thévenin source (voltage VA, series resistance RA) driving a resistor load RL. Because of voltage division (also referred to as "loading") the voltage across the load is only VA RL / ( RL + RA ). However, if the Thévenin source drives a unity gain buffer such as that in Figure 1 (top, with unity gain), the voltage input to the amplifier is VA, and with no voltage division because the amplifier input resistance is infinite. At the output the dependent voltage source delivers voltage Av VA = VA to the load, again without voltage division because the output resistance of the buffer is zero. A Thévenin equivalent circuit of the combined original Thévenin source and the buffer is an ideal voltage source VA with zero Thévenin resistance.

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