Measurement of low-frequency noise properties of modern electronic components is a very demanding challenge due to the low magnitude of a noise signal and the limit of a dissipated power. In such a case, an ac technique with a lock-in amplifier or the use of a low-noise transformer as the first stage in the signal path are common approaches. A software dual-phase virtual lock-in (VLI) technique has been developed and tested in low-frequency noise studies of electronic components. VLI means that phase-sensitive detection is processed by a software layer rather than by an expensive hardware lock-in amplifier. The VLI method has been tested in exploration of noise in polymer thick-film resistors. Analysis of the obtained noise spectra of voltage fluctuations confirmed that the 1/f noise caused by resistance fluctuations is the dominant one. The calculated value of the parameter describing the noise intensity of a resistive material, C = 1·10−21 m3, is consistent with that obtained with the use of a dc method. On the other hand, it has been observed that the spectra of (excitation independent) resistance noise contain a 1/f component whose intensity depends on the excitation frequency. The phenomenon has been explained by means of noise suppression by impedances of the measurement circuit, giving an excellent agreement with the experimental data.
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