Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

The Role of Phase Noise Research and Metrology



David A. Howe


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.
The Role of Phase Noise Research and Metrology
Created February 19, 2008, Updated January 27, 2020