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The frequency flicker of an oscillator, which appears as a 1/f3 line in the phase noise spectral density, and as a floor on the Allan deviation plot, originates from two basic phenomena, namely, (1) the 1/f phase noise turned into 1/f frequency noise via the Leeson effect, and (2) the 1/f fluctuation of the resonator natural frequency. The discussion on which is the dominant effect, thus on how to improve the stability of the oscillator, has been going on for years without giving a clear answer. This article tackles the question by analyzing the phase noise spectrum of several commercial oscillators and laboratory prototypes, and demonstrates that the fluctuation of the resonator natural frequency is the dominant effect. The investigation method starts from reverse engineering the oscillator phase noise in order to show that if the Leeson effect was dominant, the resonator merit factor Q would be too low as compared to the available technology.
Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:54 , Issue: 1 )
Date of Publication: January 2007