The noise level in an electronic system is typically measured as an electrical power P in Watts or dBm, a root mean square (RMS) voltage (identical
to the noise standard deviation) in volts, dBµV or a mean squared error (MSE) in volts squared. Noise may also be characterized by its probability
distribution and noise spectral density N0(f) in watts per hertz.
Noise Power amath P = k*T*B endamath where amath k = 1.3806504 * 10^-23 J/K endamath (Boltzmann Constant).
T is the temperature in [K] (Kelvin) and B is the Bandwidth in [Hz].
amath P = 10*log_10 (P/P_0) endamath in [dBm] and P0= 1 mW
Noise Voltage amath U = sqrt(P*R) endamath or amath U=sqrt(k*T*B*R) endamath where R = 50 Ω. (usually)
Reference Temperature amath T = 273.15 K + theta_(a m b) endamath usually T = 300 K.
Noise Figure may be given as a linear factor or in dB. It is a measure of degradation of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR),
caused by one or more components in a signal chain.
F = SNRinput / SNRoutput whereas SNRinputamath = S_(i n)/N_(i n) endamath and SNRoutputamath = S_(o u t)/N_(o u t) endamath
FdB amath= 10*log_10 (F) endamath
SNRinput > SNRoutput as the 'device' adds noise, decribed by the Noise Figure :-(
⇒ You can compare receivers with the noise-figure. When using the 'sensitivity' a comparison is only
possible if this is done at the same bandwidth.
When using multi-stage-systems the noie figures add up using the 'de Friis-Formula'. calculator
• The Noise Figure of the first device is decisive for the overall Noise Figure
• The Noise Figures of the following stages loose influence with the Gain of the first stage.
Example : FM-Receiver
We have a Receiver with F = 2 dB operated at an Antenna. Between Receiver and Antenna we have an Coaxial cable of 25 m with
an Attenuation of 7 dB/100 m at 100 MHz. This means we have an attenuation of 1.75 dB which is equal to F = 1.75 dB.
F = 1.49 ( F = 10^(FdB/10)). This gives an overall Noise Figure of :
The Attenuation of the Coaxial cable worsens the overall Noise Figure.
From a friend, we hear that adding an amplifier will improve the situation. Unfortunately we forgot to ask, where to put it.
Amplifier : Gain 20dB, F = 3 dB.
If we put it between Antenna and Coaxial cable, this results in F = 3.03 dB
If we put it between Coaxial cable and Receiver, this results in F = 4.76 dB
Resistors are noisy. This noise depends on temperature. Therefore it is called 'thermal noise'. It further depends
on bandwidth. (See formula above). Using T = 300 K and B = 1 Hz we get :
Ptherm = - 174 (dBm/Hz)
Noise Figure Measurement
In order to measure the noise figure, we need a signal generator, a DUT (device under test) and a spectrum analyser.
(Or equivalent equipment.)
• Terminate the input of the DUT with an adequate terminator (usually 50 Ω).
• Connect the spectrum analyser at the output of the DUT.
• Select a useful bandwidth and measure the Noise power at the frequency of interest.
As the terminator is matched to the input of the DUT, it will deliver half of the power to the DUT. (power matching).
The DUT will amplify that noise power and add its own noise.
Pterm = amath Gain * 1/2 * F * 2 * k * T * B endamath
Now connect the signal generator and set the power level therefore, that the measurement at
the spectrum analyser increases by 3 dB.
Pterm + 3 dB = amath 1/2 * F * Gain * 2 * k * T * B + Pgenerator * Gain endamath
rearranging for F yields in :
amath F = P_G / (k * T * B) endamath where PG = PGenerator
As the Noise power depends on the Bandwidth, it is wise to note the Power and the measurement-bandwidth.
Decreasing the Bandwidth by a factor of 10 will reduce the noise level by 10 dB. And vice versa.