Circuit noise analysis and optimization, Part 3b

(Click here for Part 3a; links to previous parts are at the very end)

An example with a real part
The op amp's process technology and design techniques affect its noise performance. Analog IC designers use internal circuit tricks to reduce the bias current of bipolar transistors using bias current cancellation. These tricks can introduce a correlated component to the current noise density specification. Figure 6 shows the noise specification for an ultra-low-noise, low-distortion op amp such as the AD8599 from Analog Devices

Figure 6: AD8599 noise specification.

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Users of these ICs can improve the AC and DC performance of their circuits if they configure them correctly. As shown in Figure 7 , balancing the amplifier inputs allows noise performance to be optimized. For example, dc performance can be optimized by placing resistor R5 –equal to the parallel combination of R1 and R4 –from the non-inverting input to ground. This commonly used technique will cancel the input bias current of the op amp and reduce the overall dc error.

Figure 7: DC-optimized circuit

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The circuit discussed is not optimized for noise, however. In order to do this, one has to identify all noise sources and write noise equations as explained above, Equation 2 . This is done in Figure 8 :

Figure 8. Noise sources of circuit in Figure 7

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(Equation 2)

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Pspice can be used to calculate the total noise of the circuit after NEB is found. Noise from 1 Hz to 15 kHz, shown in Figure 9 .

Figure 9: Output noise of circuit in Figure 7

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How do we balance the op amp's inputs to get the best noise performance? This is shown in Figure 10 where the inputs are balanced for both AC and DC parameters. Note that the resistor values have changed, although the noise gain is the same (1001) and current noise density sees equivalent resistance when flowing out of the amplifier input pins.

Figure 10. AC and DC optimized circuit

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How is this circuit improved over the previous solution for noise? In order to answer this question, once again all noise sources are identified, and the appropriate equation is written to calculate the total noise at the output, Figure 11 . Note that the contribution of balancing resistor Rb is captured in this figure and Equation 3 .

Figure 11: Noise sources of circuit in Figure 10 identified

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(Equation 3)

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A side-by-side comparison of the results from Figure 7 and Figure 10 is shown in the Table 2 . The total output noise difference between the two configurations may not seem that large, as small resistors were used for balancing, but the difference becomes much more of a problem if larger resistors are used for R5 in Figure 7.

Table 2: Side-by-side comparison of Figure 7 and Figure 10

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Are there other easy ways to calculate the noise of a circuit aside from the two approaches presented so far? Another approach in noise calculation of a given circuit is given in an example of a popular application circuit, namely an op amp configured as buffer driving an ADC.

Using the voltage noise density graph of the Analog Devices' AD8675 (broadband noise = 2.8 nV/rt-Hz) as an example, Figure 12 , break up the NEB into two regions (low frequency and high frequency). Note that the NEB for AD8675 configured as a non-inverting unity gain buffer is the op amp's unity gain bandwidth (10 MHz).

Figure 12: AD8675 noise density vs. frequency

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It was pointed out in previous articles that all op amp datasheets have a voltage noise density graph that can be used to find the low-frequency noise (p-p noise) and the corner frequency. This information and Equation 4 can be used for noise calculation at low frequencies:

(Equation 4)

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Using Equation 3 with values for Fl = 0.1 Hz, FH = 70 Hz, corner frequency FC = 25 Hz results in the low-frequency noise contribution of 40.45 nVrms , Equation 5 :

(Equation 5)

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To calculate the noise over the high frequency region (over the flat region of the noise or white noise area), one can use Equation 6 and Equation 7 :

(Equation 6)

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(Equation 7)

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Add the noise values for the two regions in an rms fashion, Equation 8 , to obtain a total noise of:

(Equation 8)

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How effective is this solution? How accurate is the approximation? How low a signal level can this circuit reliably process? This is possible to test by looking at the SNR. Equation 9 :

(Equation 9)

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The low-frequency noise of the amplifier is negligible (the AD8675 has a very low corner frequency), so the total SNR of this solution can be calculated using only the white noise contribution. This solution is good for up to 20 bits. This amplifier degrades the SNR of a 16-bit ADC such as Analog Devices AD7671 (SNR = 90 dB) by very little, as shown by Equation 10 :

(Equation 10)

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There are a number of ways to calculate the noise of a circuit; a few were shown in this article. But all of these methods should start with configuring the signal-conditioning circuitry optimally before conducting the noise analysis and noise calculation. If there is a good Pspice model available for the op amp, using Spice is the easiest approach. If not, then one of the other two approaches, using noise density graph approach or pen and paper calculation approach based on Equation 1 are the alternatives.

About the author
Reza Moghimi is an applications engineering manager for the Precision Analog Products group at Analog Devices, Inc. He holds an BSEE and MBA from San Jose State University (SJSU), CA. In addition to Analog Devices, Reza has worked for Raytheon Corp., Siliconix Inc, and Precision Monolithic Inc. (PMI). He enjoys traveling, music and soccer.

Previous parts of “Understanding Noise Optimization in Sensor Signal-Conditioning Circuits”:

  • Part 1a: click here
  • Part 1b: click here
  • Part 2a: click here
  • Part 2b: click here

1 comment on “Circuit noise analysis and optimization, Part 3b

  1. ljsdoifwoiefj
    August 27, 2015

    8. Know your market.
    Though more real estate professionals are beginning to work internationally thanks to globalization and the ease of communication, most agents continue to work close to home. This brings us to an important and often-overlooked fact about the real estate industry—namely, that it isn't a single industry at all, but rather a collection of local and regional markets. Though in many ways we're no longer limited by geography and boundaries, the real estate profession is still regulated at the state level, not the federal level. True, some of the differences in laws practices between states may seem arbitrary; others, however, exist for a good reason. But regardless of how you feel about this reality, you must accept it and plan accordingly. The dynamics of your market can have a profound effect on how you conduct your business, and with whom—and the lower to the ground you are, the more evident this becomes. To illustrate, let's consider two very different urban rental markets: Boston and Los Angeles.

    In Boston, students make up a fourth of the population, and inhabit an even larger share of the city's rentals. This means agents in Boston experiences two rushes: First from January to May, when the undergraduates start looking for a place to live, and then from May until mid-August, when graduate students and young professionals get their acceptances or job offers. The vast majority of leases run 12 months, from September to September. Off-peak leases and shorter arrangements, including month-to-month, are difficult to find and usually more expensive. There are a few large management companies, but agents and agencies tend to dominate Boston's real estate market; though most properties are advertised online, renters must almost always go through an agent to get to them.

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    As these two examples show, your location as an agent has an enormous effect on how you do your job. The technologies and software that work for agents in New York and San Francisco may not be right for agents in Minneapolis or Detroit. It's up to you to learn what aspects of your business you need to focus on and what solutions to employ in order to be responsive to your clients' needs.

    9. Learn from the best.
    In Part 6, we talked about learning and improving from reflecting on and measuring your own performance. One of your greatest assets as a real estate agent is self-reliance. But you should still look elsewhere for guidance and support, especially if you're new to the game. Let's get philosophical for a second here. We live in a subjective world. Everything you experience is colored by the unique flavor of your consciousness. This means that we all see the world differently, but it also means we all see ourselves differently. That goes for your reflection in the mirror as well as your sense of your abilities. This has major implications for your work as a real estate agent. Confidence is an important quality in a salesman; but too much confidence can alienate your prospects—and if there's a truth about confidence, it's that the person who has too much doesn't know it.

    The only way to solve this problem is to “average” your perspective as an agent with those of the agents around you—and the top performers are the ones who have done this work for themselves. Start by building and maintaining your relationships with your fellow agents and brokers, the people you see every day. You'll not only strengthen the network of contacts you need to be an effective salesman—you'll also have access to their hard-earned wisdom. Listen to horror stories as well as their success stories. Find time to ask questions. If an experienced agent doesn't have time to help you during work hours, offer to buy him or her a beer afterwards. Worried about your rapport with prospects? Have someone whose opinion you trust listen to one of your sales calls. He or she may be able to point out a tic or mistake that you're unable to see. Not getting the response you want from your advertising? Get feedback from someone who has it figured out.

    Next, you should widen your focus. Step outside your office and find out which agents are the best and/or most visible in your community or region. Do your research. What are they doing that others aren't? How do they market themselves? What tools do they use? Look at their numbers. How much business are they doing, and where are they doing it? You may say that because agents are independent contractors, they won't be ready to divulge their sales secrets. True, it's not in their best interest to tell you everything. But if there's one thing people in real estate profession—in any profession, really—love, it's being viewed as an expert. By consulting a peer, you're telling him that he is worth consulting. You're validating his years of hard work. Plus, the people you'll be asking for help are already successful at what they do. That doesn't mean they'll give up their edge completely, but it does mean they can afford to help the little guy. In truth, the secret that most people are keeping is that they don't really know what they're doing. If they have real wisdom, they'll have no problem sharing some of it with you.

    10. Choose your broker wisely.
    As a realtor, you have both added freedom and added responsibility. Your business is your business, but it's your business. Still, working for yourself doesn't mean working alone. Unless you choose to earn an additional broker's license and work completely independently, you'll almost certainly be working under a broker at an agency. That being said, just because you can hang your license anywhere doesn't mean you should. Before committing to a broker, you'll want to make sure you have the right fit. Start by doing some research on the company's earnings. Clearly, it's important that your agency be profitable—but how successful are they in your niche? If you find you work primarily with buyers, an agency made up of seller's agents probably won't help you; if you're most comfortable selling to middle-class families, an agency with primarily high-end listings may not be the right place.

    In choosing a broker, as in cultivating your personal relationships, visibility and reputation are also crucial. If you're going to tie yourself to an agency, you want to make sure they're going to help you get noticed and gain clients' trust, particularly when you don't have many contacts of your own. The most profitable agency in your region may have a reputation for being full of shysters and snake-oil salesmen; a big, international franchise may sound like the ticket, but people your area may be more comfortable and more experienced in dealing with local, family-owned establishments. Furthermore, there's a reason plenty of real estate brokers don't opt into a major chain: they're expensive. Franchises can charge local thousands of dollars as an initiation fee. They can also charge renewal fees and get additional income by marking up “business & promotional items.” Plus, most franchises take an additional percentage of every commission sellers pay. All of these costs will affect your bottom line as an agent. Additionally, depending on where you are, a big name may not amount to much at all. That is, RE/MAX may have offices in 82 countries, but if everyone in a twenty-mile radius knows “Big” Jim Sullivan at Sullivan Realty, you'd probably be better off with him.

    Finally, it's important to get a sense of the nuts and bolts of working at an agency. The best way to do this is by talking to other agents. Try to meet with as many as you can from the agencies you're considering. Ask about commission splits, technology, administrative support, and advertising. Try to get a sense of the culture there. Is the lead broker an egomaniac with a temper? Is he interested in expanding the business, or apathetic? Is the dynamic among agents competitive or collaborative? How does this match up with your philosophy? Align yourself with the agency that is going to support your success.

    Hopefully, the tips we've given you will help you get off to a strong start. But as any seasoned veteran will tell you, this is by no means an exhaustive account of the potential challenges you'll face as a real estate agent. It may be a while before you start closing deals regularly, and you can be sure you'll have your share of failures and awkward or embarrassing moments. But don't get discouraged. Like many jobs that require a high degree of social interaction, real estate is best learned by doing, by interacting with as many leads, clients, agents, and brokers as possible. So get to work!


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