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This paper presents an overview of the physics, modeling, and circuit implications of RF broad-band noise, low-frequency noise, and oscillator phase noise in SiGe heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) RF technology. The ability to simultaneously achieve high cutoff frequency (fT), low base resistance (rb), and high current gain (β) using Si processing underlies the low levels of low-frequency 1/f noise, RF noise, and phase noise of SiGe HBTs. We first examine the RF noise sources in SiGe HBTs and the RF noise parameters as a function of SiGe profile design, transistor biasing, sizing, and operating frequency, and then show a low-noise amplifier design example to bridge the gap between device and circuit level understandings. We then examine the low-frequency noise in SiGe HBTs and develop a methodology to determine the highest tolerable low-frequency 1/f noise for a given RF application. The upconversion of 1/f noise, base resistance thermal noise, and shot noises to phase noise is examined using circuit simulations, which show that the phase noise corner frequency in SiGe HBT oscillators is typically much smaller than the 1/f corner frequency measured under dc biasing. The implications of SiGe profile design, transistor sizing, biasing, and technology scaling are examined for all three types of noises.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2005