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An Electrical and Statistical Study of Burst Noise


Puckett, Jason Niles, Jr. (1971) An Electrical and Statistical Study of Burst Noise. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/D816-7C55.


Burst noise is a normally undesirable phenomenon occasionally found in bipolar semiconductors and other current carrying devices. It is an electrical fluctuation which exhibits itself as one or more rectangular waveforms possessing constant amplitude but random pulse duration. The experimental portion of this study relates only to burst noise in bipolar transistors and operational amplifiers.

Burst noise is not Gaussian as are the more common fluctuations in semiconductors. That fact was established by estimation of the amplitude distribution, a technique found to be sensitive in the detection of burst noise obscured by quantities of conventional noise.

The amplitude of burst noise varies with the parameters of base-emitter, voltage temperature and source resistance. An exponential increase of amplitude with Vbe and a lack of dependence on collector voltage implied that the noise originates in the base-emitter junction. A noise magnitude linearly proportional to source resistance over several decades leads one to infer the equivalent circuit of a current source between base and emitter. Current amplitudes of 10-10 to nearly 10-6 ampere p-p were observed.

Burst noise pulse durations were found as brief as 10 µsec and as long as some 29 hours; neither an upper nor a lower bound was established. The two noise states (high and low, in the rectangular waveform) were treated separately in the duration experiments. Careful measurements on the relative frequency with which the pulse occurred gave duration probability densities of 1/τ e -t/τ for each state. That density also applies to a single particle alternately being trapped and escaping and is consistent with the physical theory due to Mead and Whittier relating burst noise to trapping phenomena. Measurements on noise pulse durations in both states as a function of Vbe lent support to the theory and indicated both trapping and recombination-generation centers were present in samples examined. Another theory, due to Leonard and Jaskolsky, was found inconsistent with the evidence for burst noise's origin in the base-emitter junction. Duration versus temperature dependence indicated activation energies of roughly .5 eV.

Although suggestions in the literature for the power spectrum of burst noise have been inconsistent, digital spectral estimation and judicious use of a wave analyzer showed the spectrum to be flat at low frequencies and to fall as 1/f2 at higher ones. Proceeding only from the measured pulse duration probability density, the power spectrum was deduced on theoretical grounds for the first time. The method entailed the derivation of burst noise's autocorrelation function which, when Fourier transformed, yielded

S(w) = 2/(τ1 + τ0)[(1/τ1 + 1/τ0)2 + w2]

where τ1 and τ0 are the average durations in the two noise estates. The expression proved consistent with experiment.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Electrical Engineering
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Electrical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Martel, Hardy Cross (advisor)
  • Mead, Carver (co-advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:27 October 1970
Funding AgencyGrant Number
U. S. NavyN60530-68-C-0532
Tektronix FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:04042018-105756176
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10787
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:05 Apr 2018 15:31
Last Modified:21 Dec 2019 01:56

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