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The oscillating, or repeating, signal that is the basis for constructing all signals is a voltage that exactly follows simple periodic sine and cosine functions of time. The synthesis of such signals, using an oscillator coupled with a “frequency synthesizer,” can never be perfectly realized because the voltages from these devices are perturbed by random noise from real electronic components.
Frequency synthesis plays a role in virtually all present-day commercial, industrial, and military technologies. State-of-the-art low-noise frequency synthesis is a particularly important technical asset to high-speed telecommunications, efficient management of the wireless spectrum, and high-resolution imaging. It is worth noting that overall performance of various technologies depends on, and is often limited by, phase and amplitude noise fluctuations in oscillators and frequency synthesizers.
NIST’s Time and Frequency Metrology Group has the world's most advanced measurement and calibration facilities for characterizing noise components in oscillators and frequency synthesizers. It engages in many activities to determine the cause of various kinds of noise for the purpose of isolating and reducing it, leading to improved components, instruments and techniques that are often necessary in new applications. These activities include:
Measurements PM and AM Noise, Clock Jitter, Spectrum, Frequency and Time Stability
Data Analysis Allan and Total frequency variances, Jitter Histogram, Fourier Transform, Kalman Filter
Calibration Tunable Noise and SSB-Tone Standards, Frequency - Atomic Frequency Reference, Beat Frequency - Heterodyne and Dual Heterodyne
Component Oscillators, Amplifiers, Synthesizers, Digital Clocks and Logic Devices, Frequency Standards
Instrumentation 1 kHz to 110 GHz, 1 x 10-15 frequency stability, Clock Jitter down to 10 femtoseconds, L(f) down to -177 dBc/Hz for 0 dBm signal at room temperature
41st NIST Time and Frequency Seminar June 7-10, 2016
Time and Frequency Division