MWJ:Can you tell us a bit about the early days of Maury Microwave?
MM: Maury Microwave was founded in 1957 as Maury & Associates by my father Mario A. Maury Sr, my brother Mario A Maury Jr and myself. We started the company out of a single room, paying $30/month with only $3,000 in combined startup capital. Mario Sr’s expertise was in filter design and Maury & Associates’ first product line consisted of custom-designed low-pass, band-pass and high-pass filters, as well as an assortment of miscellaneous passive components (attenuators, directional couplers, fixed loads, slug-tuners and adapters). Maury & Associates was the stereotypical family business: Mario Sr did the design work, Mario Jr did design and sales, and I worked on assembly and test.
The 1960s were good years for the electronics industry. JPL quickly became our largest customer and we spent the better part of the decade under contract to design and manufacture test-site and flight hardware. One of our earlier turning points was the passing of our father in 1964. Mario Jr took over the operations and guided the direction of the company, helping standardize our product offering. Under Mario Jr’s guidance, Maury Microwave incorporated, developed its first commercial product line and catalog, and hired its first sales network. By the end of the ‘60s we had grown to 18 employees working in a 10,000 square-foot facility.
The 1970s were driven largely by the expanding US military, aerospace and defense industries. Resources were spent building our catalog offering of metrology connectors and passive components including the earliest calibration kits, connector gages, sliding terminations, open circuits, and airlines, among others, as well as building our brand identity with recognition for quality and reliability. By the end of the ‘70s we had grown to 45 employees.
MWJ:How did Maury go from microwave components to precision calibration kits?
MM: By the late ‘70s, Maury Microwave had earned two decades of experience designing calibration-grade connector interfaces, and the Maury name had become synonymous with metrology. Milestones included the invention of the first commercial connector gage kit in 1961, the Blue Dot Precision Connector in 1967 which later became the industry standard high precision Type N test connector, and the first 40 GHz mode-free coaxial connector (MPC2) in 1973 which later evolved as the 2.92mm connector.
Also by the mid-late ‘70s, Vector Network Analyzers (VNAs) were making their first public appearances. Maury Microwave had used its catalog of shorts, opens, loads and airlines to bundle together kits to be used in conjunction with network analyzers. At the same time, a relationship had been burgeoning between Maury Microwave and Hewlett Packard (later Agilent Technologies, now Keysight Technologies), who’s equipment was used to test our products. In 1983, HP partnered with Maury Microwave to provide calibration kits for the newly released 8510 VNA including Type N, 7mm and 3.5mm models. Our calibration kit business expanded as VNAs became mainstream and by the end of the ‘80s we had grown to 100 employees and our work space expanded to 24,000 square feet
MWJ: How did Maury transition from precision calibration solutions to general test and measurement interconnect solutions?
MM: For over 50 years we had offered the highest quality calibration-grade metrology adapters and cable assemblies to support our calibration kits, device characterization solutions, and metrology components. What we noticed over time is that the same customers who were purchasing metrology components were also asking for daily-use lab adapters and cable assemblies, products that would embody the Maury quality and spirit, but be useable for day-to-day interconnections. The challenge was designing high quality products representative of the Maury name, but available to the market at a lower price point. Our engineering and marketing teams spent months analyzing data and testing designs for robustness and manufacturability. The end result was realized in 2010 through 2013 with the release of our Test Essentials™ line of lab adapters, our ColorConnect™ line of color-coded precision adapters, our Stability™ line of phase- and amplitude-stable microwave/RF cable assemblies, and our Utility™ line of microwave/RF cable assemblies. Maury Microwave currently offers adapters and cable assemblies at three performance/price points: calibration-grade/metrology, precision, and daily-use lab.
MWJ: Can you tell us more about the color-coding we see on many of your interconnect solutions?
MM: With so many connectors on the market (1mm, 1.85mm, 2.4mm, 2.92mm, 3.5mm, SMA…), how can a person easily know which are mechanically compatible, and what is the limiting frequency range? Attempting to connect incompatible connector types can have disastrous effects: damaged equipment, degraded reliability, degraded performance, increased maintenance time, lost efficiency. If only there was an easy way to identify connector types, maybe a color-coding scheme? The IEEE discussed it, we proactively adopted it, and from this challenge was born our ColorConnect™ family of interconnection products which include cable assemblies, adapters, attenuators and torque wrenches, with additional products being added over time.
MWJ: It’s quite a leap between calibration and interconnection solutions, and load pull systems. How did Maury get into load pull?
MM: Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s and continuing today, Maury offered a line of double- and triple-stub tuners who’s purpose was to improve the return loss of a line so as not to introduce uncertainty or error into a measurement. These were the days before VNAs, and the mismatch of a line was not easily calibrated out.
In 1976, Maury introduced an improved method of impedance tuning consisting of a slabline and capacitive RF probe. The probe had both vertical and horizontal positioning control, which varied the VSWR magnitude and phase, respectively. The tuning performance was significantly better than a stub tuner, and from this design evolved an entire line of manual impedance tuners which are still offered for sale today.
A secondary use of manual impedance tuners in the early days was transistor characterization and amplifier design. Manual tuners were used to study the performance of transistors under varying load conditions for power, gain, efficiency and noise figure. The manual approach was tedious and time-consuming, plus the lack of modern computers limited the capabilities at that time. A collaboration in the late 70s and early 80s with RCA David Sarnoff Laboratory lead to the development the first automated impedance tuner system based on double slugs utilizing Maury’s slabline structure. In themid-‘80s Maury automated its slide-screw tuner technology and the Automated Tuner System (ATS) was born.
Since that industry-first, Maury Microwave has been at the forefront of innovation with respects to non-50 ohm device characterization. Maury invented the earliest high-gamma tuners, the earliest multi-carriage tuners, the earliest millimeterwave tuners, the earliest automated load pull and noise parameter software platforms. It was these accomplishments that resulted in Agilent Technologies selecting Maury Microwave in 2001 as their exclusive global solutions partner in non-50 ohm measurement and modeling device characterization solutions, a relationship that still exists to this day.
MWJ: In recent years we have seen Maury’s industry partnerships grow. Can you tell us about your strategy?
MM: Maury spent much of the ‘90s and ‘00s innovating load pull and noise parameter solutions. We launched coaxial tuners covering 227 MHz to 65 GHz; waveguide tuners up to 110 GHz, a line of load pull accessories including multiplexers and fixtures, noise measurement accessories including noise receiver modules and noise switched modules, and improved measurement algorithms for accuracy, measurement capability and speed. We also started offering turnkey solutions to our customers.
In 2010, we came to the realization that while our customers benefited from our solutions’ capabilities and measurement results, there was a disconnect between the test engineers collecting load pull data, the modeling engineers’ requirements for refinement and validation, and how design engineers process the information in designing amplifiers. We took a step back and asked ourselves how we could improve our customers’ experience by providing a solution which spanned the component to circuit to system design flow. The end result was a strategic partnership with AMCAD Engineering and Anteverta-mw.
AMCAD Engineering brought their significant background in transistor compact and behavioral model extraction, as well as experience with load pull measurements for model validation and refinement.
Anteverta-mw brought their unique mixed-signal active load pull methodology, the only load pull system capable of 1000 impedance/power states per minute and wideband impedance control over 240 MHz of bandwidth for realistic modulated signal measurements.
As a team, we are able to offer a cohesive and comprehensive design flow solution covering pulsed IV and pulsed s-parameters measurements, compact transistor model extraction for III-V and LDMOS technologies, load pull for model validation and amplifier design, multiple behavioral modeling methodologies, amplifier design best practices, stability analysis of ICs and more.
MWJ: What does the future hold for Maury’s Measurement and Modeling Device Characterization business unit? Where is the market taking you?
MM: New transistor technologies and new applications are constantly pushing us to develop new solutions. The emergence of wide bandgap semiconductor technologies such as Gallium Nitride continues to drive our line of Pulsed IV/RF systems for characterization and transistor model extraction. It encourages the improvement of our modeling capabilities. It stimulates the development of advanced harmonic and pulsed-bias load pull offerings.
The evolution of commercial modulated signals such as LTE and 802.11ad have changed the way we think about load pull. Gone are the days where classic mechanical tuners can be effectively used to measure transistor and amplifier linearity. The ability to control impedance vs frequency over a modulated bandwidth is becoming critical.
5G, automotive radar, wireless backhaul, point-to-point and radar/sensor technologies are driving mmW R&D and demanding new characterization solutions. Maury has been, and continues, to develop groundbreaking solutions to meet the applications of today and tomorrow.
MWJ: I’ve noticed your advertisement “Exceptional Companies Have Superior Labs - Complete Your Lab with Maury Microwave!” What does that mean?
MM: Every component in a lab is interconnected. From the smallest adapter and cable assembly to the largest instrument and custom software application, each piece plays an important role in the proper functioning of a test and measurement station. Poor connectors or cables can affect the performance of a system as easily as a malfunctioning instrument. It’s important to think in terms of solutions and not individual components, and only by doing so can you guarantee the highest uptime and most efficient lab. There are very few vendors who can offer turnkey solutions, and even fewer who are directly responsible for every component ranging from adapters, cable assemblies and attenuators to calibration accessories and tools and finally instruments, measurement and modeling systems and test software. Maury Microwave aims to be your calibration, measurement and modeling solutions partner.
MWJ: We’ve heard about Maury’s past, what does Maury look like today?
MM: When my brother Mario Jr passed away in 1995, I became CEO, and Chairman of the Board. I stepped aside as CEO in 2006, and my son Greg took over as the third generation of the Maury family to lead the company. We moved into our current 96,000 square-foot facility in 1991, and through improved efficiencies have been able to consistently grow our business while maintaining a staff of 100 employees. What started as a single room in California has grown to offices in the Americas, Europe and China, with a global network of sales representatives and distributors. We received ISO9001 certification in 2001 and AS9100 in 2009 and continue to put major efforts in our quality systems. We hold patents on connectors (quick-connect…), connector tools (torque tools…), impedance tuners (high-gamma tuner, dual-carriage tuner…), measurement accessories (sensor probes, IV coupler…) and measurement methodologies (noise parameters…). Our device characterization facilities are state-of-the-art with passive, active and hybrid-active fundamental and harmonic load pull systems, nonlinear VNA measurement systems, noise parameter extraction systems, pulsed IV/RF measurement systems, transistor modeling systems, for on-wafer and in-fixture measurement services and demonstrations. We offer the widest range of precision calibration solutions with calibration kits in 15 coaxial connector types and 18 waveguide sizes, satisfying multiple calibration methodologies and compatible with all modern VNAs. We offer interconnection solutions for calibration-grade metrology, precision and lab adapters and cable assemblies. We offer the widest range of measurement and modeling device characterization solutions and are one of the only companies to complete the design flow from component to circuit to system. Our team has never been stronger, with exceptional leaders in engineering, production, quality, sales and marketing.
Continue to expect great things to come from Maury Microwave, you won’t be disappointed!