Investigation into the origin of the noise of surface electrodes

E. Huigen, A. Peper, C. A. Grimbergen

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In the recording of biomedical signals, a significant noise component is introduced by the electrode. The magnitude of this noise is considerably higher than the equivalent thermal noise from the electrode impedance. As the noise in surface electrodes limits the resolution of biopotential recordings, it is important to understand its origin. It was found that the noise mainly originates in the electrolyte-skin interface and that it is highly dependent on the electrode gel used and the skin properties of the test subject. Depending on skin treatment, magnitudes between 1 and 20 muV(rms) were measured among subjects. When the metal-electrolyte interface was allowed time to stabilise, electrodes of different metals measured face to face all showed a negligibly small noise magnitude ( <1 muV(rms)), In pre-gelled electrodes, where the metal-electrolyte interface has stabilised, no difference in noise properties was found between Ag-AgCl electrodes and other metals when measured on the skin. In subjects at rest, the contribution of EMG signals to the total noise level was shown to be negligibly small compared with the noise contribution of the electrolyte-skin interface. The magnitude of the noise of electrodes appeared to be inversely proportional to the square root of the area of the electrode on the skin
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-338
JournalMedical & biological engineering & computing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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