Microwave Journal

Agilent Offers Free Application Note: Active Device Characterization in Pulsed Operation Using the PNA-X

September 12, 2011


Vector network analyzers (VNAs) are the common tool for characterizing RF and microwave components in both continuous-wave (CW) and pulsed operations. Some external equipment may be used in conjunction with a VNA to modulate the stimulus or DC bias, and to perform accurate S-parameter measurements in pulsed operation. However, components that need to be characterized in pulsed operation mode are often active devices such as amplifiers or converters, and many active parameters are characterized in addition to S-parameters. These active parameters are power-dependent, so additional factors must be considered for precise characterization.


With legacy VNAs, external equipment is always used for pulsed-RF measurements. It requires many cable connections, timing alignment, and introduces system overhead, causing limited measurement speed and pulse width. Also when characterizing compression and distortion of active devices, source power must be calibrated in order to drive the devices with accurate input power levels. The source power calibration is usually performed in CW mode and then the stimulus is pulse-modulated after the calibration. This introduces stimulus power level errors resulting with inaccurate input/output power, compression, and distortion measurements.


To respond to such problems, Agilent’s PNA-X Series network analyzers, the most flexible VNA that employs many capabilities designed for active-device characterization, enables S-parameter and active parameter measurements with a single set of connections. The PNA-X’s four internal pulse generators and pulse modulators, two internal sources with a combing network, and active-application options provide fully integrated pulsed active-device characterization.

Download Agilent’s new white paper, Active Device Characterization in Pulsed Operations Using the PNA-X to learn more about pulsed S-parameter measurements using the PNA-X Series and measurement techniques that enable accurate power-dependent active-device characterization including compression and distortion. This paper includes a brief summary of pulsed-RF measurement types, and also explains two detection techniques (wideband and narrowband detection) using the PNA-X architecture and methodologies.

Click here to download paper.