Low-noise amplifier (LNA) is an electronic amplifier used to amplify possibly very weak signals (for example, captured by an antenna). It is usually located very close to the detection device to reduce losses in the feedline. This active antenna arrangement is frequently used in microwave systems like GPS, because coaxial cable feedline is very lossy at microwave frequencies, e.g. a loss of 10% coming from few meters of cable would cause a 10% degradation of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).
An LNA is a key component which is placed at the front-end of a radio receiver circuit. Per Friis' formula, the overall noise figure (NF) of the receiver's front-end is dominated by the first few stages (or even the first stage only).
Using an LNA, the effect of noise from subsequent stages of the receive chain is reduced by the gain of the LNA, while the noise of the LNA itself is injected directly into the received signal. Thus, it is necessary for an LNA to boost the desired signal power while adding as little noise and distortion as possible, so that the retrieval of this signal is possible in the later stages in the system. A good LNA has a low NF (like 1dB), a large enough gain (like 20dB) and should have large enough intermodulation and compression point (IP3 and P1dB). Further criteria are operating bandwidth, gain flatness, stability and input and output voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR).