What is Modulation Index and Transmission Efficiency of an AM wave ? Explain The Evaluation of Modulation Index and Transmission Efficiency

Modulation Index or Modualation Factor


In AM wave, the modulation index (m) is defined as the ratio of amplitudes of the modulating and carrier waves as under :

modulation index

When modualtion index17,the modulation index ‘m’ has values between 0 and 1  and no distortion is introduced in the AM wave .

But if modulation index18, then ‘m’ is greater than 1 . This will distort the shape of the AM signal. The distortion is called as ‘over modulation’ .

The modulation index is also called as modulation factor, modulation coefficient or degree of modulation .

However, this modulation index is expressed as percentage and it is called as ‘percentage modulation’ .


percent modualtion

Here, it may be noted that m is a dimensionless quantity .

Linear Modulation and Over Modulation

Depending on the value of percentage modulation (m), the AM wave may be classified into following two categories :

  1. Linear modulation
  2. Over modulation

Linear Modulation

If linear modualtion or if the percentage modulation is less than 100, then the type of modulation is linear amplitude modulation.

The waveforms of AM waves with linear modulation have been shown in fig.1 (a) and (b) respectively .

AM wave woith 0.5 modulation index               am wave with modulation index 1

                   Fig 1 (a)                                                                                     Fig 1(b)

Over Modulation

If over modulation, i.e., if the percentage modulation is greater than 100%, then the type of modulation is called as over modulation.

Since m > 1 ,  the envelope can sometimes reverse the phase as shown in fig.1 (c) .

am wave with over modulation

Fig 1(c)

Over modulation introduces envelope distortion . Therefore, it should be avoided .

Evaluation of Modulation Index

The modulation index can be measured using the following two methods :

  1. Using the AM signal as it is
  2. Using the trapezoidal display of the AM wave

Modulation Index Evaluation using the AM Wave

If the AM signal is displayed on the screen of a cathode ray oscilloscope (CRO) , it appears to be as shown in fig.2 .

am wave for calculation of m

Fig 2

The x-axis represents the time and y-axis represents the amplitude in volts.

The dotted line which represents the envelope of AM signal does not appear on the screen .

In order to calculate modulation index ‘m’ which is :

modulation indexwe must express Eand Ein terms of Emax and Emin .

From the fig.1, we can write,

modulation index1……………..(1)

modulation index2…………………(2)

Substituting the value of Efrom equation (1) into equation (2), we get

modulation index3

modulation index4

modulation index5…………………..(3)

But ,

modulation index

Now, substituting the values of  Eand Efrom equation (1) and (3), we get

modulation index6


modulation index7………………………(4)

This is the required expression.

Evaluation of modulation Index Using Trapezoidal Display

The set up for evaluating the modulation index using trapezoidal display has been shown in fig.3(a)  and the corresponding waveforms have been shown in fig 3(b).

set up for evaluatingmodulation index

Fig 3 (a)

trapezoidal display of AM wave

Fig 3(b)

In this method, the AM signal is connected to vertical deflection plates of the oscilloscope .

The display on the screen of the oscilloscope is of trapezoidal shape as shown in fig 3 (b).

From fig.3 , we can write

modulation index8………………………………(5)

modulation idex9………………………..(6)

Therefore, adding equations (5) and (6), we obtain

modulation index11

modulation indexs12……………………(7)

And subtraction of equations (5) and (6) yield

modulation index13

modulation index14……………………….(8)

The modulation index,

modulation index

Substituting the value of Eand Efrom equation (7) and (8), we get

modulation index15………………………..(9)

Thus, it is possible to obtain the modulation index by measuring the length A and B .

Transmission Efficiency

Transmission efficiency of an AM wave is the ratio of the transmitted power which contains the information (i.e. the total sideband power) to the total transmitted power.

Transmission efficiency of an AM wave

Why should ‘m’ be as high as possible?

The higher percentage of modulation is preferred for strong and more intelligible received signal, because higher percentage of modulation means higher value of modulation index m. With increased value of m, the transmitted power Pt by the AM transmitter will increase as,

9 9

Thus it is ensured that the received signal will be strong by having a higher percentage of modulation. Moreover a strong signal is less likely to get contaminated or lost in the noise, hence becomes more intelligible.