Differences between astable and bistable multivibrator

In the realm of electronics, multivibrators stand as quintessential circuits, offering a spectrum of functionalities by producing distinct waveforms or pulses. Among these, the astable and bistable multivibrators emerge as prominent types, each wielding unique operational principles and serving specific roles within electronic systems.

Astable Multivibrator:

The astable multivibrator, a self-triggered oscillator, embodies certain defining characteristics:

  • Continuous Oscillation: Operating without the need for external triggers, this oscillator perpetually oscillates between two unstable states.

  • Absence of Stable State: Unlike its bistable counterpart, the astable multivibrator lacks a stable state, continuously shifting between its quasi-stable states.

  • Autonomous Operation: It autonomously generates a periodic output, commonly manifesting as a square wave or similar periodic waveform.

     See Astable Multivibrator example circuits below for comparison on circuit design level. 

    (1) Astable Multivibrator using MOSFET

    astable multivibrator using MOSFET animation

     (2) Astable Multivibrator with Operational Amplifier

    Astable Multivibrator using Op-Amp

    (3) Astable using 555 Timer

Bistable Multivibrator:

In stark contrast, the bistable multivibrator, often referred to as a flip-flop, is characterized by:

  • Dual Stable States: It maintains one of two stable states until prompted by an external trigger, which induces a transition to the alternate stable state.

  • Trigger-Dependent Operation: Unlike the astable multivibrator, the bistable remains in its stable state until it receives a specific trigger, facilitating the state change.

  • Memory Functionality: Owing to its stable state retention, the bistable finds extensive use as a memory element within digital circuits.

    See Bistable Multivibrator example circuits below for comparison on circuit design level. 

    (1) Transistor Bistable Multivibrator

    unsymmetrical triggering of bistable multivibrator circuit diagram

    (2) Op-amp Bistable Multivibrator

    bistable multivibrator using op-amp

    (3) 555 Timer Bistable Multivibrator

    bistable multivibrator using 555 timer animation 

Key Contrasts Summarized:

  1. Operational Mode:

    • Astable: Self-triggered, continuously oscillating.
    • Bistable: State retention until triggered to switch.
  2. Stable State Dynamics:

    • Astable: Lack of stable states, perpetual oscillation.
    • Bistable: Possesses two stable states and remains in one until triggered to transition.
  3. Trigger Dependency:

    • Astable: Works autonomously without external triggers.
    • Bistable: Depends on external signals to induce state changes.


  • Astable: Often utilized in clock generation, signal oscillators, and frequency dividers.
  • Bistable: Integral in memory elements, flip-flops within digital systems, and sequential logic circuits.


The fundamental disparity lies in the perpetual oscillation and absence of stable states in the astable multivibrator, whereas the bistable multivibrator maintains stable states until externally triggered. Grasping these operational discrepancies empowers engineers and enthusiasts, enabling them to harness the distinctive functionalities of these multivibrators for diverse electronic applications.

Understanding the nuances between these multivibrators is pivotal for effectively integrating them into circuit designs. This knowledge amplifies the capacity to construct complex electronic systems, facilitating precise control over waveforms and digital signals. These foundational circuits continue to serve as pillars in electronic engineering, propelling technological innovation and progression.

See also:

# Differences between astable and monostable multivibrator

# Monostable vs Bistable vs Astable Multivibrator

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post