An all-analog front-end generating no digital clock or switching noise with fiber optic connections to a powerful DSP based instrument console.
Since their invention back in the 1960's, lock-in amplifiers have been used whenever the need arises to measure the amplitude and/or phase of a signal of known frequency in the presence of noise. Unlike other AC measuring instruments they have the ability to give accurate results even when the noise is much larger than the signal - in favorable conditions even up to a million times larger.
Early instruments used analog technology, with manual controls and switches, and with output readings being taken from large panel meters. Later, microprocessors were added to give more user-friendly operation, digital output displays, and to support computer control. More recently the analog phase sensitive detectors forming the heart of the instrument have been replaced by DSP (digital signal processing) designs, further improving performance.
But the addition of this digital technology has had one unfortunate side effect, which is that the instrument itself can act as a source of digital clock and switching noise, which is typically coupled back into the experiment via the signal or internal oscillator connectors. This noise is of course rejected by the lock-in and generally does not impair its performance, but the power it dissipates in the sample or device under test can cause serious problems. This is particularly the case in low temperature physics experiments.
SIGNAL RECOVERY is therefore proud to introduce the model 7124 precision lock-in amplifier, which is particularly suited to such work. It uses a unique analog fiber optic link to interconnect a remote connection unit (RCU), to which the experiment is connected, and a main instrument console. In normal operation there are no digital clock signals within the RCU, and so it can emit no switching noise. This architecture gives an instrument with all the advantages of the latest DSP technology for signal detection, and a powerful processor for easy user operation, as well as the low noise performance that until now has only be available in instruments of all-analog design.