Working in the Basement: Measuring Signals Below the Noise Floor with a Lock-In Amplifier

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Author: Shimon Elstein, Senior Physicist, Ophir
Friday, January 26, 2018
MKS Ophir, Light & Measurement

Measuring optical signals in the femtowatt (10-15) to nanowatt (10-9) range can be a daunting task. Signal levels this low are lost in typical detector noise levels and swamped by background light. The noise floor for photodiode detectors operated with a small bandwidth (~10 Hz) is on the order of 1 picowatt (10-12). Further narrowing of the bandwidth by filtering or averaging will only provide a small additional reduction in the noise level. In order to achieve significant improvements in noise rejection we need to turn to a lock-in amplifier. Here’s how.

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Sensors & DetectorsTest & MeasurementOpticsoptical signalslock-in amplifierhomodyne detectionoptical chopperoptical detectoroptical sensorradiometerOphirMKS
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