Tutorial, Teardown & Experiments with Stanford Research SR530 Lock-in Amplifier

In this episode Shahriar goes over the operation and principle theory behind Lock-in Amplifiers. The SRS SR530 is one of the most iconic lock-in amplifiers ever made and since it offers two channels it can be used to perform very interesting experiments across many domains. After reviewing the block diagram and equations governing the theory of operation, a brief instrument teardown is presented.

Two unique and interesting experiments are also presented. In the first experiment the instrument is used to measure the speed of light. This is accomplished by measuring the wavelength of sound at 20kHz using a pair of speakers and a function generator. The distance between the speakers can be carefully adjusted and the relative signal strength from each lock-in channel is measured and thus the wavelength can also be measured.

In the second experiment the sensitivity of a red LED to blue laser light is measured. Due to the semiconductor composition of the red LED as well as its red plastic casing, the responsibility of the LED to blue light is extremely low. A chopper is therefore used to lock the light to the lock-in amplifier’s reference input. The measured induced current is measured down to very low optical level in the order of hundreds of fempto (10^-15) amps.

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