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In frequency modulation, the frequency of a rapidly varying

signal is modulated by a slowly varying signal. The
mathematical description of the modulation of the
frequency of a sinusoidal carrier by another sinusoid is
given in the formula below where wc is carrier frequency,
wm is the modulation frequency, and m is the modulation
index. A plot of the resulting signal in the time domain
(amplitude versus time) is shown in the interactive graph
labeled Time Domain.

An expansion of the formula shows that the resulting signal consists of a large
number of frequency components, or sidebands. This is in contrast to the case of
amplitude modulation where only two sidebands are created. The sidebands are
spaced apart by the modulation frequency, wm, and centered about the carrier
frequency, wc. The figure labeled Frequency Domain shows the carrier and
sideband components as a plot of amplitude versus frequency.

Only the most significant components are shown. An infinite number of higher
order components have negligible amplitude. In fact, the amplitude of each
component is given by a Bessel function of the appropriate component order. In
mathematical notation the amplitude of the nth sideband is Jn(m), where m is
the modulation index.

These graphs are interactive. The parameters of the mathematical model can be
adjusted by dragging the sliders with your mouse. You may also click and drag
the graphical objects inside the Time and Frequency Domain graphs. For
example, the figure above shows how the carrier frequency can be adjusted by
dragging the center arrow in the Frequency Domain graph. A complete
mathematical definition and analysis of Frequency Modulation is available in the
application note listed below.

Frequency modulation
While AM is the simplest form of modulation to envisage, it is also possible to vary the
frequency of the signal to give frequency modulation (FM). It can be seen from Figure 3-8
that the frequency of the signal varies as the voltage of the modulating signal changes.

This is known as the deviation. The amount by which the signal frequency varies is very important. This is slightly more complicated than demodulating AM. Rather than just detecting the amplitude level using a diode. In this case. and is normally quoted in kilohertz. It is for this reason that FM is used for high-quality broadcast transmissions where deviations of ±75 kHz are typically used to provide a high level of interference rejection. The other advantage of FM is its resilience to noise and interference when deviations much greater than the highest modulating frequency are used. FM was chosen for use in the first- generation analogue mobile phone systems. The basic format of the quadrature detector is shown in Figure 3-9. It has the advantages that it requires a simple tuned circuit and it is also very easy to implement in a form that is applicable to integrated circuits.Figure 3-8. FM is used for a number of reasons. but one popular approach is to use a system known as a quadrature detector. One particular advantage is its resilience to signal-level variations and general interference. the carrier is made to move up and down by 3 kHz. and this means that any signal-level variations will not affect the audio output provided that the signal is of a sufficient level. and provides a good level of linearity. A frequency modulated signal. a tuned circuit has to be incorporated so that a different output voltage level is given as the signal changes its frequency. As an example. it is necessary to convert the frequency variations into voltage variations. As a result. In view of these advantages. the signal may have a deviation of ±3 kHz. this makes FM ideal for mobile or portable applications where signal levels vary considerably. There is a variety of methods used to achieve this. but it is still relatively simple to achieve. The modulation is carried only as variations in frequency. It can be seen that the signal is split into two components. To demodulate an FM signal. One of these passes through a network that provides a . It is widely used in integrated circuits.

i. plus an element of phase shift dependent upon the deviation. The total spectrum is an infinite series of discrete spectral components.basic 90° phase shift. The mixer output is dependent upon the phase difference between the two signals. This is given by the deviation ratio.e. but also the level of deviation – i. and is obtained by inserting the maximum values into the formula for the modulation index: Sidebands Any signal that is modulated produces sidebands. when designing a system it is important to know the maximum permissible values. The original signal and the phase-shifted signal are then passed into a multiplier or mixer. it acts as a phase detector and produces a voltage output that is proportional to the phase difference and hence to the level of deviation of the signal. Block diagram of an FM quadrature detector. expressed by the complex formula: . and will therefore vary according to the frequency that is modulating the transmitted carrier and the amount of deviation: However. the modulation index M. Modulation index and deviation ratio In many instances a figure known as the modulation index is of value and is used in other calculations. In the case of an amplitude modulated signal they are easy to determine. but for frequency modulation the situation is not quite as straightforward. The modulation index is the ratio of the frequency deviation to the modulating frequency.e. Figure 3-9. They are dependent upon not only the deviation..

In this relationship. or calculated using a suitable computer program. further sidebands can also be seen. Jn(M) are Bessel functions of the first kind. It can be gathered that for small levels of deviation (that is. Figure 3-10 shows the relative levels to give an indication of the way in which the levels of the various sidebands change with different values of modulation index. It can be seen that the total spectrum consists of the carrier plus an infinite number of sidebands spreading out on either side of the carrier at integral frequencies of the modulating frequency. and ωm is the angular frequency of the modulating signal. As the modulation index increases. other sidebands at twice the modulation frequency start to appear (Figure 3-11). what is termed narrowband FM) the signal consists of the carrier and the two sidebands spaced at the modulation frequency either side of the carrier. ωc is the angular frequency of the carrier and is equal to 2πƒ. Figure 3-10. some rising in level and others falling as the modulation index varies. The relative levels of the sidebands can be read from a table of Bessel functions. . The relative amplitudes of the carrier and the first 10 side frequency components of a frequency modulated signal for different values of modulation index. The spectrum appears the same as that of an AM signal. Vc is the voltage of the carrier. It is also found that the relative levels of these sidebands change. The major difference is that the lower sideband is out of phase by 180°. As the index is increased.

an improvement equal to 3D2 is obtained where D is the deviation ratio. . the signal appears to consist of the carrier and two sidebands. for low levels of modulation index all but the first two sidebands may be ignored. This is true for high values of D – i.5). enabling stations to have a small guard band and their centre frequencies on integral numbers of 100 kHz. Bandwidth It is clearly not acceptable to have a signal that occupies an infinite bandwidth. However. for a VHF FM broadcast station with a deviation of ±75 kHz and a maximum modulation frequency of 15 kHz. It can be seen that for small values of the modulation index M (e. As the modulation index increases.Figure 3-11. In fact. In other words. To achieve this it is normally necessary to allow a bandwidth equal to twice the maximum frequency of deviation plus the maximum modulation frequency.e. Fortunately. 175 kHz. the number of sidebands increases and the level of the carrier can be seen to decrease for these values. In view of this a total of 200 kHz is usually allowed. wideband FM. and it is often necessary to apply filtering to the signal. The amplitude noise can be removed by limiting the signal. as the modulation index increases the sidebands further out increase in level. This should not introduce any undue distortion. Improvement in signal-to-noise ratio It has already been mentioned that FM can give a better signal-to-noise ratio than AM when wide bandwidths are used. Spectra of frequency-modulated signals with various values of modulation index for a constant modulation frequency. this must be (2 × 75) + 15 kHz. M = 0. i. the better the noise performance. When comparing an AM signal with an FM signal.e.g. the greater the deviation.

Similarly. Another method is to frequency-modulate the carrier with audio tones that change in frequency. Once at the receiver.An additional perceived improvement in signal-to-noise ratio can be achieved if the audio signal is pre-emphasized. the frequency of the signal is changed from one frequency to another. Figure 3-12. the signals are passed through a network with the opposite effect to restore a flat frequency response. There are two methods that can be employed to generate the two different frequencies needed for carrying the information. This second method can be of advantage when tuning accuracy is an issue. To achieve this. The first and most obvious is to change the frequency of the carrier. at the receiver the response falls by the same amount. the signal may be passed through a capacitor–resistor (CR) network. . To achieve the pre-emphasis. Frequency shift keying. Here. the signal increases in level by 6 dB per octave. Frequency shift keying Many signals employ a system called frequency shift keying (FSK) to carry digital data (Figure 3-12). one frequency counting as the digital 1 (mark) and the other as a digital 0 (space). the lower-level high-frequency sounds are amplified to a greater degree than the lower-frequency sounds before they are transmitted. At frequencies above the cut-off frequency. in a scheme known as Audio Frequency Shift Keying (AFSK). By changing the frequency of the signal between these two it is possible to send data over the radio.

we see the spectra of a signal for β = 0.2. so β is proportional to its amplitude. 5. The sideband amplitudes become negligibly small beyond a certain frequency offset from the carrier.Frequency Modulation The instantaneous frequency deviation of the modulated carrier with respect to the frequency of the unmodulated carrier is directly proportional to the instantaneous amplitude of the modulating signal. In figure 22. . individual spectral components are shown. β is varied by changing the modulating frequency. in figure 23d. and 10. and c. We can determine the bandwidth required for low distortion transmission by counting the number of significant sidebands. The sinusoidal modulating signal has the constant frequency fm. depending on the magnitude of β. significant sidebands are those sidebands that have a voltage at least 1 percent (–40 dB) of the voltage of the unmodulated carrier for any β between 0 and maximum. In figure 23. but the envelope is correct. the spectrum of an FM signal is not infinite. 1. For high fidelity. b. therefore. the amplitude of the modulating signal is held constant and. We shall now investigate the spectral behavior of an FM signal for different values of β. Bandwidth of FM signals In practice. the components are not resolved. Note: in figure 23a.

in (c). β= 10 . in (d). β = 5. β = 0. In (a). amplitude varying).Figure 22. Amplitude-frequency spectrum of an FM signal (sinusoidal modulating signal.2. f fixed. β = 1. in (b).

The required transmission bandwidth in this case is twice fm. as for AM. β −> ∞ Two important facts emerge from the preceding figures: (1) For very low modulation indices (β less than 0. β = 15. in (c). we get only one significant pair of sidebands. For values of  between these extremes we have to count the significant sidebands. . β = 10.) In (a). fm decreasing. Amplitude-frequency spectrum of an FM signal (amplitude of delta f fixed.2). in (b). (2) For very high modulation indices (β more than 100). in (d).Figure 23. β = 5. the transmission bandwidth is twice Δfp.