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Durham University

Department of Physics



The electronics laboratories take place at the end of the Michaelmas term and the beginning of the Epiphany term. The laboratories are supported by a lecture series that explains the theory and use of the components that you will use in the laboratory sessions.

This part of the module is assessed by a practical assessment, scroll down for general information or go on DUO for details.

You can find sample scripts from previous years in our archive, but please DO NOT bring these to your lab sessions. You can find the scripts for your year on DUO in Laboratory Skills and Electronics > Course Documents > Electronics and on the Jupyter notebook server.

Reading List

The following books are recommended as a reference but you are not required to buy them; they are available in the library:

Health & Safety and Skills

All the electronic signals you will be processing in these laboratory sessions will be low voltage, however please be aware of the department policy on use of electrical equipment.

For a refresher on basic circuits, see the circuits page. You may also wish to familiarise yourself with the following experimental skills that will be necessary as part of the course.

Laboratory Sessions

Session 1 - Filters

A potential divider is a simple circuit that uses passive components to produce an output voltage that is a fraction of the input voltage. The passive components may be resistive, capacitative, inductive or some mixture of all three. The use of non-resistive components introduces a frequency dependance into the fraction. In your experiments you will use a pair of resistors to form a simple voltage divider, then you will use a resistor and a capacitor to produce a low pass filter before moving on to investigate the effect of network loading when one potential divider feeds another.

Sessions 2 & 3 - Operational Amplifiers

In these laboratory sessions you will construct and characterise several operational amplifier circuits. You will them conduct several experiments intended to illustrate some of the limitations and applications of operational amplifiers. The following circuits will be constructed and there characteristics measured:

  • Session 2
    • Experiment 1 - Inverting Amplifier
    • Experiment 2 - Integrator
    • Experiment 3 - Non-inverting amplifier
  • Session 3
    • Experiment 1 - Comparator
    • Experiment 2 - Op-amp limitations
    • Experiment 3 - Oscillator

Session 4 - Modulation

You will investigate ways in which a signal may be modulated. Each task requires two signals as inputs, one generated by your function generator, the other is distributed around the lab and is available via a pair of wires at your workstation. You will encounter low frequency (<1Hz) signals - when displaying these, the DSO behave somewhat differently, employing a ’rolling’ display. You should familiarise yourself with this display mode.

In this session you will construct and characterise the following circuits

  • Experiment 1 - Pulse Width Modulation
  • Experiment 2 - Demodulation
  • Experiment 3 - Amplitude Modulation

Sessions 5 or 6 - Practical Assessment

You will only attend one of these two sessions, which will be your assessment for the Electronics module.

The assessment is open book, but you will be working alone. The aim is to use the skills you have acquired in the previous sessions to detect a mystery signal.

Amplitude and Frequency Modulation