I've got a prototype board of a light tracking device based on a 2 dimensional PSD, but it suffers from important bias currents on one of the electrodes which could possibly clip the input to the supply rail at any moment. I would like to compensate for that offset in order to be sure the signal is never altered, but is it going to have any effect on the PSD's behaviour? How does that work out really?

What I would like to do in particular, is replace the direct ground connection on the non inverting input of the current-voltage converter by an adjustable voltage divider between 5 and -5V on the following schematic:

enter image description here (also in dropbox) - the gain of the tail amplifier is set to 100.

I have tried injecting currents with a 10Mohm resistor to -5V on the electrode but even if the offset is no more, it seems it tempered with the detector somehow because I picked up immediately an important (several Vpp output!) 50Hz noise when it wasn't there before. That noise decreases when the device is obscured, so it really sounds like some kind of imbalance.

In a nutshell, if I offset the potential on one electrode (well, the opamp will do it for me), is it going to change anything else?

Resources: application note of Hamamatsu, datasheet of the detector

  • \$\begingroup\$ This question has been spun-out from another post, because I intended the other one to be more generic on filtering of scope noise. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 6, 2014 at 23:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ You still haven't said if the 50Hz noise is due to overhead lights causing the hamamatsu device to pick up 50Hz . This is really important to understand. If covering/obscuring the photodetector stopped the 50Hz pick-up please say. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Mar 6, 2014 at 23:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ The fact that I don't have that noise without the highlighted resistor should prove that it's not a matter of light; but I also said several times in the other post that I ended up lighting it with LCD/LEDs instead and I have the same results. Covering the device does decrease the noise though. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 6, 2014 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, you haven't satisfied my curiosity. let me explain - I have a feeling that you do need the resistor for this circuit to work so again, I ask, with the resistor fitted, does the 50Hz disappear when you block light to the device? I went to the hamamatsu site and I'm not convinced it will work without a resistor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Mar 6, 2014 at 23:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well it's not on any of the example circuits for 2D PSDs... Once the resistor is fitted, even when the detector is obscured the noise is greater than when it is not fitted. The signal is really clear and the PSD responds well when that resistor is not there, only the offset (and only on that pad, the others are sort of ok) is a problem. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 7, 2014 at 0:03

1 Answer 1


As many suggested - first check that the source is not an optical input from celling lights, but you would see the noise without the resistor as well (assuming conditions were the same).

Your circuit uses NTV0505MC DC/DC converter, it is not an LDO so it produces ripple. In original circuit design the PSRR characteristic of the LTC2055HV suppresses this ripple by a factor of 130dB. When you add the 10M resistor - you inject this ripple straight into the first stage of signal processing line. 10M with 100k of TIA stage forms an "inverting op-amp circuit". So the ripple (or whatever you have on -5V rail) is attenuated by 1/100 factor and added to whatever useful photo-current you get from PSD pin multiplied by 100k TIA feedback. If it is not a DC/DC converter ripple - checkout the shielding of your supply rail. Supply rail may function as antenna picking up EMI emitted by surrounding power wiring.

Also to me it seems wasteful to use second OpAmp as simple unity gain buffer before the multiplexer. When working with such noisy devices as photodiodes - you would always want to do as much filtering as possible. PSD has large area (so high capacitance), that means with typical TIA design you will not get anything beyond 10kHz from it. So using second OpAmp as 2-nd order 10kHz LPF would be very beneficial to the resulting SNR.

On my practice I was picking up the PWM noise from brushless motor of the stabilizer gimbal on which the photodiode sensor was mounted. While the whole signal conditioning circuit was shieled inside a metal case, the photodiode casing itself (biased cathode) was exposed outside (or actually inside the surrounding plastic mount of the lens in front of it). With 10MOhm TIA feedback the noise was 10x stronger than the signal itself. Problem was solved with proper shielding to ground of the plastic lens mount using nickel conductive spray paint from MG Chemicals. So the only opening in EMI shield of the whole sensor was an optical lens in front of photodiode.


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