Industry News Test and Measurement Channel

Agilent's PNA-X Network Analyzer Option Offers Accurate Noise Figure Measurements

Agilent Technologies Inc. introduced Option 028 to its PNA-X Series of microwave network analyzers. The new option allows highly accurate, source-corrected noise figure measurements of amplifiers, frequency converters and mixers up to 50 GHz.

The PNA-X, configured with Option 028, is the only network analyzer in the industry to correct for the effects of imperfect system source match. This is accomplished by using vector error correction to remove mismatch errors, and an ECal module as an impedance tuner to remove noise-parameter-induced errors. Such advanced calibration methods enable the PNA-X to offer the industry’s highest noise-figure measurement accuracy, especially in on-wafer, in-fixture and automated-test environments.

Measurement accuracy is critical to engineers designing and testing amplifiers, converters and especially low-noise amplifiers. In R&D, measurement accuracy enables better optimized transmit/receive systems and correlation between circuit simulations and measurements. In manufacturing, it means smaller guard bands, yielding better component specifications and more competitive products.

Agilent’s Option 028 uses the PNA-X’s standard S-parameter receivers and Agilent’s unique source-correction technique to make noise figure measurements up to 50 GHz. For devices with less than 30 dB of excess noise, an external preamplifier and filter are required. For noise figure measurements up to 26.5 GHz, an additional option (Option H29) is available that offers an internal low-noise receiver for 50 GHz PNA-X instruments. Option H29 eliminates the need for an external preamplifier and filters, while making the setup as easy as that required for measuring S-parameters.

“With this new option, Agilent expands the broadest range of noise figure measurement solutions at price and performance points to meet our customer’s budget and measurement needs,” said Gregg Peters, Vice President and General Manager of Agilent’s Component Test Division. “Option 028’s exceptional accuracy, and the PNA-X’s single connection, multiple measurement capability, help engineers increase test throughput and reduce instrument count. This allows simpler, more cost-effective test systems.”

The PNA-X provides the industry’s widest range of measurement applications, spanning from RF to millimeter-wave. The PNA-X gives engineers the flexibility to make measurements such as S-parameter, gain compression, intermodulation distortion and noise figure measurements, with a single connection to the device-under-test. Traditionally, similar tasks have required multiple test instruments, including a spectrum analyzer, two or three signal generators, a noise figure analyzer with block down converter, and a vector network analyzer. The PNA-X offers noise figure measurements that are typically 4 to 10 times faster than that of a noise figure analyzer. When performing a broader suite of measurements, it offers a 100X improvement in overall test throughput as compared to legacy, multi-instrument systems.

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