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Noise

Sources of Noise
Sources of Noise
Ambient Noise.
Eg. Background noise in a recording
Electrical Interference.
Eg. Mains hum, mobile phones
Amplifier Noise.
Noise added by the amp
Sources of Amplifier Noise
Thermal Noise
Resistive components
Shot Noise
Semiconductor junctions
Flicker Noise
All components
Thermal Noise
It is a white Gaussian noise voltage of magnitude:
kTRB v
n
4 =
k = Boltzmanns constant
T = Temperature [Kelvin]
R = Resistance
B = Bandwidth
Random motion of electrons in a conductor (Brownian
motion) causes thermal noise.
White Noise
frequency
|N(f)|
2
Flat spectrum extending to infinity implies a signal
with infinite r.m.s. voltage obviously impossible.
In practice, interest is restricted to a finite band of
frequencies.
Band-Limited White Noise
frequency
|N(f)|
2
time
N(t)
B
0
N
2
0
B N
n
rms
=
Band-Limited Thermal Noise
The r.m.s. voltage level of a band-limited
white noise signal is proportional to the
square root of the bandwidth.
For thermal noise:
[V] 4kTRB v
n
=
] Hz [V/ 4kTR v
n
=
or,
Shot Noise
Dominates in semiconductor devices when carriers are
diffusing. (In conductors, thermal noise is usually much
bigger)
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Current o number of carriers per second
s per carriers million 6 A 1 Eg.
Shot Noise Current
The average number of carriers flowing past
a point per second is proportional to the
current.
In any observation interval, the actual
number of carriers will vary around this
average this variation is shot noise.
] Hz / [A 2 or ] [A 2
rms rms
qI i qIB i
n n
= =
Flicker Noise
Imperfections in the fabrication of a
component cause flicker noise.
Unlike thermal noise and shot noise, flicker
noise is not white; it is pink.
Also, it can be reduced depending on the
quality of the component.
Flicker Noise Current
] Hz / [A or ] [A
rms rms
f
KI
i
f
KIB
i
n n
= =
f = frequency,
K = component dependent constant.

Note that the noise power is inversely proportional
to frequency i.e. pink noise.
Noise in Amplifiers
A noisy amplifier
Equivalent circuit
Noise Figure
Equivalent circuit of a noisy
amplifier with a noisy input.
Noise from R
S
:
] Hz [V/ 4
S Rs
kTR n =
Signal-to-noise ratio
for v
in
:
(

=
S
S
in
kTR
v
SNR
4
log 10
2
10
Noise voltage level at the
output will be the r.m.s. sum
of the resistor noise and the
amplifier noise.
(Add power, not voltage)
2
4
amp S out
n kTR n + =
Output signal-to-noise
ratio is, therefore:
(

+
=
2
2
10
4
log 10
amp S
S
out
n kTR
v
SNR
Equivalent circuit of a noisy
amplifier with a noisy input.
The Noise Figure of the amplifier is the ratio between
the output and input signal-to-noise ratios:
(

+ =
(

+
=
S
amp
S
amp S
kTR
n
kTR
n kTR
NF
4
1 log 10
4
4
log 10
2
10
2
10
(

+
=
2
2
10
4
log 10
amp S
S
out
n kTR
v
SNR
(

=
S
S
in
kTR
v
SNR
4
log 10
2
10
Noise Temperature
v
S
R
S

Noisy
amp
(

=
2
2
10
log 10
amp
S
out
n
v
SNR
If R
S
is cooled to zero:
v
S
R
S

Ideal
amp
(

=
S n
S
out
R kT
v
SNR
4
log 10
2
10
R
S
is heated to T
n
but
amp is ideal
2
2
10
2
2
10
4
4
log 10 log 10
amp S n
S n
S
amp
S
n R kT
R kT
v
n
v
=
(

=
(

The noise temperature of the amplifier is the value of

T
n
where:

Noise temperature and noise figure are related since:
(

+ =
(

+ =
(

+ =
T
T
kTR
R kT
kTR
n
NF
n
S
S n
S
amp
1 log 10
4
4
1 log 10
4
1 log 10
10
10
2
10
Introduction to Noise Summary
The main sources of amplifier noise are
thermal noise, shot noise and flicker noise.
Thermal noise and shot noise are both white
and are irreducible.
Flicker noise is pink and can be controlled.
The noise performance of an amplifier can be
quantified by either its Noise Figure or Noise
Temperature.
Equivalent Circuits - Resistors
Resistor noise is dominated by thermal noise:
R
Noiseless
Resistor
kTRB 4
R
Noisy
Resistor
Noise
Source
Networks of Resistors
2 1
|| R R
Noiseless
Resistor
( )B R R kT
2 1
|| 4
1
R
Noise
Source 2
R
NB. When adding noise sources, the result is the root of
the sum of squares.
2 1
R R +
Noiseless
Resistor
( )B R R kT
2 1
4 +
1
R
Noise
Source
2
R
Transistors
Usually, only consider noise sources associated with
the base-emitter junction. These will be magnified by
the gain of the amplifier.
i
n
e
n
Base Spreading Resistance, r
bb
Base spreading resistance, r
bb
, is the small,
real resistance between the base terminal
(the wire) and the actual base region of the
transistor.
Typical values are 100 O or less.
It is small enough to ignore in most circuit
analysis.
It is, however, a source of thermal noise.
Noise voltage sources
We know that :
e
c
be
r
i
v
=
r
e
is not a real resistance so it doesnt generate
any thermal noise.
i
c
, however, will be contaminated by shot noise,
therefore generating a noise voltage across v
be
.
] Hz [V/ 2 2
] Hz [A/ 2
2
C
T
C
T
C e n n
C n c
I
V
q
I
V
qI r i v
qI i i
= = =
= =
Noise Sources in Transistors
Noise voltage, e
n
, consists of thermal noise from r
bb

and shot noise in the collector current generating a
voltage across r
e
.
] /Hz [V 2 4 2 4
2
2
2 2
C
T
bb e C bb n
I
V
q kTr r qI kTr e + = + =
Noise current, i
n
, is dominated at high frequencies by
shot noise in the base current.
/Hz] [A
2
2
2 2
|
C
B n
qI
qI i = ~
Noise in Real Transistors
Both the voltage and current noise sources will
also contain a degree of flicker noise.
This may dominate at low frequencies but be
insignificant at high frequency.
It is device dependent.
Usually, plots of e
n
and i
n
for varying collector
current and frequency are given in data sheets.
Low Noise Amplifier Design
Noise voltage resulting from
e
n
and i
n
:
( )
2
2 2
S n n amp
R i e n + =
Noise Figure of amplifier:
(

+
+ =
(

+ =
S
S n n
S
amp
kTR
R i e
kTR
n
NF
4
1 log 10
4
1 log 10
2 2 2
10
2
10
Noise Figure vs. Source Resistance
10
1
10
2
10
3
10
4
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
Source Resistance [O]
N
o
i
s
e

F
i
g
u
r
e

[
d
B
]

Minimum Noise Figure
(

+
+ =
S
S n n
kTR
R i e
NF
4
1 log 10
2 2 2
10
To minimise noise figure,
must minimise the term:
S n
S
n
S
S n n
R i
R
e
R
R i e
2
2 2 2 2
+ =
+
n
n
S n
S
n
S n
S
n
S
i
e
R i
R
e
R i
R
e
R
= = + =
(

+ 0
d
d
2
2
2
2
2
Noise Figure vs. Collector Current
Usually, the source resistance is fixed (e.g.
transducer output impedance)
Noise figure can then only be optimised by either:
Scaling the impedance with a transformer
Choosing an appropriate collector current

/Hz] [A
2
] /Hz [V 2 4
2 2
2
2
2
|
C
n
C
T
bb n
qI
i
I
V
q kTr e
=
+ =
Noise Figure vs. Collector Current
Example, r
bb
= 100 O, | = 250, R
S
= 600 O
Optimising I
C

|
|
2 2
2 2 2
2 2
2
2
2
2
2 4
/Hz] [A
2
] /Hz [V 2 4
S C
C
T
bb S n n
C
n
C
T
bb n
R qI
I
V
q kTr R i e
qI
i
I
V
q kTr e
+ + = +
=
+ =
(

+
+ =
S
S n n
kTR
R i e
NF
4
1 log 10
2 2 2
10
To minimise NF, with respect to I
C
, minimise:
2 2 2
S n n
R i e +
Optimising I
C
(cont)
S
T
C
S
T
C
S
C
T
S C
C
T
bb
C
R
V
I
R
V
I
qR
I
V
q
R qI
I
V
q kTr
I
| |
|
|
= =
= +
=
(

+ +
2
2
2
2
2
2
2 2
0
2
2 0
0
2
2 4
d
d
Minimum when derivative w.r.t. I
C
= 0
Theoretical Example
A low noise common-emitter amplifier is required using a transistor
with r
bb
= 100 O and | = 250. The source resistance, R
S
= 600 O.
A 660
600
250 10 25
3

|
=

= =

S
T
C
R
V
I
/Hz A 10 8.5
2
/Hz V 10 96 . 1 2 4
2 25 - 2
2 18
2
2
= =
= + =

|
C
n
C
T
bb n
qI
i
I
V
q kTr e
dB 89 . 0
4
1 log 10
2 2 2
10
=
(

+
+ =
S
S n n
kTR
R i e
NF
Practical Low Noise Design
Approximate expression for noise current
neglects flicker noise
It is, therefore, only valid at higher
frequencies where flicker noise is low.
For lower frequency design, either
incorporate flicker noise in the equations or,
more commonly, use noise figure plots
provided in data sheets
Noise Figure Contour Plots
Summary
In most amplifier circuits, the major sources of
electrical noise are the source resistance, biasing
resistors and the transistor/op-amp used for the input
stage.
As the source resistance is usually fixed, the optimal
output signal-to-noise ratio can be achieved by
minimising the Noise Figure.
With transistor amplifiers, NF can be minimised by
optimising the collector current:
Using the approximating equations
Using noise figure plots from a data sheet