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Explain the concept of shot noise in electronic devices.

1 Answer

Shot noise, also known as Schottky noise or Poisson noise, is a fundamental type of noise that arises in electronic devices due to the discrete nature of electrical charge. It is named after the German physicist Walter Schottky, who first studied this phenomenon.

In electronic devices, such as diodes, transistors, and photodetectors, electric current is the flow of individual charge carriers (usually electrons) through a conductor or semiconductor material. These charge carriers do not flow perfectly smoothly; rather, their motion is subject to statistical fluctuations. Shot noise arises from the randomness in the arrival of these charge carriers at a particular point in the circuit.

Here's a more detailed explanation of shot noise:

Discrete Nature of Charge: Electric charge is quantized, meaning it comes in discrete units. In most electronic devices, electrons are the primary charge carriers. When a current flows, it consists of individual electrons moving through the device. Due to the discrete nature of charge, the arrival of these electrons is not perfectly uniform; there is inherent randomness.

Poisson Distribution: Shot noise is closely related to the Poisson distribution, which describes the statistical distribution of events that occur randomly and independently in time or space. In the context of shot noise, the Poisson distribution describes the probability of observing a certain number of charge carriers arriving at a particular point in the circuit over a given time period.

Current Fluctuations: Because the arrival of charge carriers is stochastic (random), the resulting electric current will also exhibit fluctuations around its average value. These fluctuations in the current are shot noise. When the current is low or the number of charge carriers is small, the shot noise becomes more noticeable and can dominate other sources of noise.

Expression of Shot Noise: Mathematically, shot noise can be described using the following formula for the root mean square (RMS) current noise (Ī”I_shot) in a current (I) flowing through a device:

Ī”

shot
=
2
ā‹…

ā‹…

ā‹…
Ī”

,
Ī”I
shot
    ā€‹

=
2ā‹…qā‹…Iā‹…Ī”f
    ā€‹

,

where:


q is the charge of an electron,

I is the average current,
Ī”

Ī”f is the bandwidth over which the noise is measured.

In simpler terms, the shot noise increases with the square root of the average current and the bandwidth.

Importance: Shot noise becomes significant in devices with low current levels or when dealing with individual photons in photodetectors. It sets a fundamental limit on the precision of measurements and the sensitivity of devices.

In summary, shot noise is a type of electrical noise that arises due to the discrete nature of electrical charge and the inherent randomness in the arrival of charge carriers. It is a fundamental phenomenon that affects the performance of electronic devices, especially at low current levels or when dealing with small numbers of charge carriers.
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