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The Fundamental Noise Limit of Linear Amplifiers

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1 Author(s)
H. Heffner ; Stanford Electronics Laboratories, Stanford University, Calif.

If the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics is applied to the process of signal measurement, two theorems relating to amplifier noise performance can be deduced. First, it can be shown that it is impossible to construct a linear noiseless amplifier. Second, if the amplifier is characterized as having additive white Gaussian noise, it can be shown that the minimum possible noise temperature of any linear amplifier is T.= In 2 -IIG -hv 1-1/ IG k In the limit of high gain G this expression reduces to that previously derived for the ideal maser and parametric amplifier. It is shown that the minimum noise amplifier does not degrade the signal but rather allows the use of an inaccurate detector to make measurements on an incoming signal to the greatest accuracy consistent with the uncertainty principle.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IRE  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 7 )