In electronics, noise is a random fluctuation in an electrical signal, a characteristic of all electronic circuits. Noise generated by electronic devices varies greatly, as it can be produced by several different effects. Thermal noise is unavoidable at non-zero temperature (see fluctuation-dissipation theorem), while other types depend mostly on device type (such as shot noise, which needs steep potential barrier) or manufacturing quality and semiconductor defects, such as conductance fluctuations, including 1/f noise.
In communication systems, the noise is an error or undesired random disturbance of a useful information signal, introduced before or after the detector and decoder. The noise is a summation of unwanted or disturbing energy from natural and sometimes man-made sources. Noise is, however, typically distinguished from interference, (e.g. cross-talk, deliberate jamming or other unwanted electromagnetic interference from specific transmitters), for example in the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), signal-to-interference ratio (SIR) and signal-to-noise plus interference ratio (SNIR) measures. Noise is also typically distinguished from distortion, which is an unwanted alteration of the signal waveform, for example in the signal-to-noise and distortion ratio (SINAD). In a carrier-modulated passband analog communication system, a certain carrier-to-noise ratio (CNR) at the radio receiver input would result in a certain signal-to-noise ratio in the detected message signal. In a digital communications system, a certain Eb/N0 (normalized signal-to-noise ratio) would result in a certain bit error rate (BER).
Thermal noise 
Johnson–Nyquist noise (sometimes thermal, Johnson or Nyquist noise) is unavoidable, and generated by the random thermal motion of charge carriers (usually electrons), inside an electrical conductor, which happens regardless of any applied voltage.
Thermal noise is approximately white, meaning that its power spectral density is nearly equal throughout the frequency spectrum. The amplitude of the signal has very nearly a Gaussian probability density function. A communication system affected by thermal noise is often modeled as an additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) channel.
As the amount of thermal noise generated depends upon the temperature of the circuit, very sensitive circuits such as preamplifiers in radio telescopes are sometimes cooled in liquid nitrogen to reduce the noise level.
Shot noise 
Shot noise in electronic devices consists of unavoidable random statistical fluctuations of the electric current in an electrical conductor. Random fluctuations are inherent when current flows, as the current is a flow of discrete charges (electrons).
Flicker noise 
Flicker noise, also known as 1/f noise, is a signal or process with a frequency spectrum that falls off steadily into the higher frequencies, with a pink spectrum. It occurs in almost all electronic devices, and results from a variety of effects, though always related to a direct current.
Burst noise 
Burst noise consists of sudden step-like transitions between two or more levels (non-Gaussian), as high as several hundred microvolts, at random and unpredictable times. Each shift in offset voltage or current lasts for several milliseconds, and the intervals between pulses tend to be in the audio range (less than 100 Hz), leading to the term popcorn noise for the popping or crackling sounds it produces in audio circuits.
Avalanche noise 
Avalanche noise is the noise produced when a junction diode is operated at the onset of avalanche breakdown, a semiconductor junction phenomenon in which carriers in a high voltage gradient develop sufficient energy to dislodge additional carriers through physical impact, creating ragged current flows.
The noise level in an electronic system is typically measured as an electrical power N 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.
A noise signal is typically considered as a linear addition to a useful information signal. Typical signal quality measures involving noise are signal-to-noise ratio (SNR or S/N), signal-to-quantization noise ratio (SQNR) in analog-to-digital coversion and compression, peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) in image and video coding, Eb/N0 in digital transmission, carrier to noise ratio (CNR) before the detector in carrier-modulated systems, and noise figure in cascaded amplifiers.
Noise is a random process, characterized by stochastic properties such as its variance, distribution, and spectral density. The spectral distribution of noise can vary with frequency, so its power density is measured in watts per hertz (W/Hz). Since the power in a resistive element is proportional to the square of the voltage across it, noise voltage (density) can be described by taking the square root of the noise power density, resulting in volts per root hertz (). Integrated circuit devices, such as operational amplifiers commonly quote equivalent input noise level in these terms (at room temperature).
Noise power is measured in Watts or decibels (dB) relative to a standard power, usually indicated by adding a suffix after dB. Examples of electrical noise-level measurement units are dBu, dBm0, dBrn, dBrnC, and dBrn(f1 − f2), dBrn(144-line).
Noise levels are usually viewed in opposition to signal levels and so are often seen as part of a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Telecommunication systems strive to increase the ratio of signal level to noise level in order to effectively transmit data. In practice, if the transmitted signal falls below the level of the noise (often designated as the noise floor) in the system, data can no longer be decoded at the receiver. Noise in telecommunication systems is a product of both internal and external sources to the system.
If the noise source is correlated with the signal, such as in the case of quantisation error, the intentional introduction of additional noise, called dither, can reduce overall noise in the bandwidth of interest. This technique allows retrieval of signals below the nominal detection threshold of an instrument. This is an example of stochastic resonance.
Noise Reduction 
In many cases noise found on a signal in a circuit is unwanted. When creating a circuit, one usually wants a true output of what the circuit has accomplished. There are many different noise reduction techniques that can change a noisy altered output signal to a more theoretical output signal.
- Faraday cage - A Faraday cage is a good way to reduce the overall noise in a complete circuit. The Faraday Cage can be thought of as an enclosure that separates the complete circuit from outside power lines and any other signal that may alter the true signal. A Faraday cage will usually block out most electromagnetic and electrostatic noise.
- Capacitive coupling - A current through two resistors, or any other type of conductor, close to each other in a circuit can create unwanted capacitive coupling. If this happens an AC signal from one part of the circuit can be accidentally picked up in another part. The two resistors (conductors) act like a capacitor thus transferring AC signals. There may be other reasons for which capacitive coupling is wanted but then it would not be thought of as electronic noise.
- Ground loops - When grounding a circuit, it is important to avoid ground loops. Ground loops occur when there is a voltage drop between the two ground potentials. Since ground is thought of as 0V, the presence of a voltage is undesirable at any point of a ground bus. If this is the case, it would not be a true ground. A good way to fix this is to bring all the ground wires to the same potential in a ground bus.
- Shielding cables - In general, using shielded cables to protect the wires from unwanted noise frequencies in a sensitive circuit is good practice. A shielded wire can be thought of as a small Faraday cage for a specific wire as it uses a plastic or rubber enclosing the true wire. Just outside of the rubber/plastic covering is a conductive metal that intercepts any noise signal. Because the conductive metal is grounded, the noise signal runs straight to ground before ever getting to the true wire. It is important to ground the shield at only one end to avoid a ground loop on the shield.
- Twisted pair wiring - Twisting wires very tightly together in a circuit will dramatically reduce electromagnetic noise. Twisting the wires decreases the loop size in which a magnetic field can run through to produce a current between the wires. Even if the wires are twisted very tightly, there may still be small loops somewhere between them, but because they are twisted the magnetic field going through the smaller loops induces a current flowing in opposite ways in each wire and thus cancelling them out.
- Notch filters - Notch filters or band-rejection filters are essential when eliminating a specific noise frequency. For example, in most cases the power lines within a building run at 60 Hz. Sometimes a sensitive circuit will pick up this 60 Hz noise through some unwanted antenna (could be as simple as a wire in the circuit). Running the output through a notch filter at 60 Hz will amplify the desired signal without amplifying the 60 Hz noise. So in a sense the noise will be lost at the output of the filter.
See also 
- Generation–recombination noise
- Matched filter for noise reduction in modems
- Noise reduction and noise cancellation for audio and images
- Error correction for digital signals subject to noise.
- Phonon noise
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (September 2011)|
- White noise calculator, thermal noise - Voltage in microvolts, conversion to noise level in dBu and dBV and vice versa
- This article incorporates public domain material from the General Services Administration document "Federal Standard 1037C" (in support of MIL-STD-188).
- Scherz, Paul. (2006, Nov 14) Practical Electronics for Inventors. ed. McGraw-Hill.
Further reading 
- Sh. Kogan (1996). Electronic Noise and Fluctuations in Solids. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-46034-4.