The output resistance (also known as source resistance) of a voltage regulator is a close cousin of its load regulation. Figure 1 illustrates how the output voltage of a regulator typically changes as a function of load current. Initially, the slope is quite linear but once the load current becomes higher than the design then the voltage will often drop rapidly with an increase in current. We measure the output resistance only on the linear portion of the plot in the normal operating region. It is meaningless to use a point in the overload area as that will result in an artificially high output resistance.
In cases where thermal limiting occurs, both the output voltage and current will be reduced. When the output voltage drops below its nominal value, the error signal appearing at the voltage error amplifier will cause it to try and correct the regulator output voltage by driving its output high (and sourcing more current to the pass transistor).
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