Biocompatible, high precision, wideband, improved howland current source with lead-lag compensation

Aaron S. Tucker, Robert M. Fox, Rosalind J. Sadleir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The Howland current pump is a popular bioelectrical circuit, useful for delivering precise electrical currents. In applications requiring high precision delivery of alternating current to biological loads, the output impedance of the Howland is a critical figure of merit that limits the precision of the delivered current when the load changes. We explain the minimum operational amplifier requirements to meet a target precision over a wide bandwidth. We also discuss effective compensation strategies for achieving stability without sacrificing high frequency output impedance. A current source suitable for Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) was simulated using a SPICE model, and built to verify stable operation. This current source design had stable output impedance of 3.3 M\Omega up to 200 kHz, which provides 80 dB precision for our EIT application. We conclude by noting the difficulty in measuring the output impedance, and advise verifying the plausibility of measurements against theoretical limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6221965
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE transactions on biomedical circuits and systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioimpedance
  • Howland current source
  • electrical impedance tomography (EIT)
  • electrical stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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