Burst noise

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Graph of burst noise Popcorn noise graph.png
Graph of burst noise

Burst noise is a type of electronic noise that occurs in semiconductors and ultra-thin gate oxide films. [1] It is also called random telegraph noise (RTN), popcorn noise, impulse noise, bi-stable noise, or random telegraph signal (RTS) noise.


It consists of sudden step-like transitions between two or more discrete voltage or current levels, as high as several hundred microvolts, at random and unpredictable times. Each shift in offset voltage or current often lasts from several milliseconds to seconds, and sounds like popcorn popping if hooked up to an audio speaker. [2]

Popcorn noise was first observed in early point contact diodes, then re-discovered during the commercialization of one of the first semiconductor op-amps; the 709. [3] No single source of popcorn noise is theorized to explain all occurrences, however the most commonly invoked cause is the random trapping and release of charge carriers at thin film interfaces or at defect sites in bulk semiconductor crystal. In cases where these charges have a significant impact on transistor performance (such as under an MOS gate or in a bipolar base region), the output signal can be substantial. These defects can be caused by manufacturing processes, such as heavy ion implantation, or by unintentional side-effects such as surface contamination. [4] [5]

Individual op-amps can be screened for popcorn noise with peak detector circuits, to minimize the amount of noise in a specific application. [6]

Burst noise is modeled mathematically by means of the telegraph process, a Markovian continuous-time stochastic process that jumps discontinuously between two distinct values.

See also

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MOSFET Transistor used for amplifying or switching electronic signals.

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The current feedback operational amplifier is a type of electronic amplifier whose inverting input is sensitive to current, rather than to voltage as in a conventional voltage-feedback operational amplifier (VFA). The CFA was invented by David Nelson at Comlinear Corporation, and first sold in 1982 as a hybrid amplifier, the CLC103. An early patent covering a CFA is U.S. Patent 4,502,020 , David Nelson and Kenneth Saller. The integrated circuit CFAs were introduced in 1987 by both Comlinear and Elantec. They are usually produced with the same pin arrangements as VFAs, allowing the two types to be interchanged without rewiring when the circuit design allows. In simple configurations, such as linear amplifiers, a CFA can be used in place of a VFA with no circuit modifications, but in other cases, such as integrators, a different circuit design is required. The classic four-resistor differential amplifier configuration also works with a CFA, but the common-mode rejection ratio is poorer than that from a VFA.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to electronics:


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  2. Rajendran, Bipin. "Random Telegraph Signal (Review of Noise in Semiconductor Devices and Modeling of Noise in Surrounding Gate MOSFET)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 14, 2006.
  3. "Operational Amplifier Noise Prediction" (PDF). Intersil Application Note. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-04-14. Retrieved 2006-10-12.
  4. "Noise Analysis In Operational Amplifier Circuits" (PDF). Texas Instruments application report.
  5. Lundberg, Kent H. "Noise Sources in Bulk CMOS" (PDF).
  6. "Op-Amp Noise can be Deafening Too" (PDF). Today, although popcorn noise can still occasionally occur during manufacturing, the phenomenon is sufficiently well understood that affected devices are detected and scrapped during test.