Lock-in detection is a widely used experimental technique in which a weak signal is measured by modulating it at a particular frequency. Then, by detecting an experimental output at that frequency, the desired signal can be isolated from much larger-amplitude noise. Here, we report on the implementation and optimization of a homemade laser barcode scanner based on the lock-in technique. Our setup is comprised of components that are readily available in an undergraduate instructional laboratory. The successful transcription of the barcode into a digital signal was achieved, and this digital signal was collected with a simple computer and processed to reveal the encoded number.

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