In many situations, it is essential to analyze a nonstationary signal for sensing whose components not only overlapped in time-frequency domain (TFD) but also have different durations. In order to address this issue, an improved separation method based on the time-frequency distribution is proposed in this paper. This method computes the time-frequency representation (TFR) of the signal and extracts the instantaneous frequency (IF) of components by a two-dimensional peak search in a limited area in which normalized energy is greater than the set threshold value. If there is more than one peak from a TFR, IFs of components can be determined and linked by a method of minimum slope difference. After the IFs are obtained, the improved time-frequency filtering algorithm is used to reconstruct the component of the signal. We continue this until the residual energy in the TFD is smaller than a fraction of the initial TFD energy. Different from previous methods, the improved method can separate the signal whose components overlapped in TFR and have different time durations. Simulation results have shown the effectiveness of the proposed method.

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