Photodiode front ends are by no means glamorous. Living between the detector
and the signal processing system, they're supposed to turn a photocurrent into
a buffered, filtered electronic replica while preserving the signal-to-noise ratio
(SNR). Nobody notices them until they stop doing their jobs.Your optical system
may be a thing of great beauty, but a badly designed front end can sink
those precious photoelectrons deep in Johnson noise. My unscientific sampling
suggests that unfortunately a great many front ends are badly designed: the
usual mistake is to trade SNR for speed without a fight. This article will describe
techniques for building fast front ends without sacrificing SNR.
© 2001 Optical Society of America
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