Zurich Instruments Newsletter - Edition Q2/2010


  • New Product Announcements: the world's fastest PLL and enhanced multi-modal operation
  • New Software Release v10.03: the best-ever software created by Zurich Instruments
  • New Technical Note: Frequency Sweep Primer
  • Tips & Tricks: to run several measurement tasks simultaneously
  • Company Agenda: meet Zurich Instruments around the world

New Product Announcements


World's Fastest PLL Enables New AFM Applications: HF2LI-PLL Phase-locked Loop

The world's fastest fully digital phase-locked loop (PLL) for atomic force microscopy has recently been introduced by Zurich Instruments as an option to the HF2LI lock-in amplifier. This PLL targets all scientists who are active in surface analysis using AFM techniques, or who work with high speed, high Q resonating structures. Researchers worldwide will now be able to:

  • operate cantilevers at higher modes and frequencies
  • increase scan speeds
  • produce better images
  • detect even finer signals

The HF2LI with PLL option can also replace existing, lower performance PLL's in current AFM setups. Replacement can be easily carried out thanks to the devices' up-to-date connectivity features and legacy interfaces. Technical advantages of the HF2LI-PLL include:

  • 2 lock-in units and 2 signal generators
  • unique frequency range of 1 Hz to 50 MHz
  • maximum PLL bandwidth in excess of 100 kHz
  • 120 dB dynamic reserve

For additional details please see the Zurich Instruments website at www.zhinst.com/products/hf2li/hf2li-pll

Enhanced Multi-Modal Operation of AFM Enhances Measurement Efficiency: HF2LI-MOD AM/FM Modulation

Zurich Instruments has also introduced a powerful new option to precisely operate and measure AM and FM modulation schemes in AFM applications. The HF2LI-MOD allows for multi-modal cantilever operation with direct demodulation of measured AM (amplitude modulation) and FM (frequency modulation) signals. This is particularly useful in applications where either the amplitude or the frequency changes periodically.

AM and FM demodulation is often implemented using two consecutive lock-in amplifiers (tandem demodulation). The HF2LI-MOD makes it unnecessary to use two lock-in amplifiers and directly performs the required integration on the sidebands of the carrier signal. In this way, Zurich Instruments improves the efficiency and the precision of the measurement setup. Furthermore, this option provides an easy to use, intuitive single-box solution for AFM and MEMS oscillators.

For additional details please see the Zurich Instruments website at www.zhinst.com/products/hf2li/hf2li-mod

Software Release v10.03

Zurich Instruments Releases Its Best Ever Software Package

Five months of intensive software development ended in May 2010, Zurich Instruments is now proud to release the most advanced software package for all HF2 Instruments in the field. The new ziControl GUI (graphical user interface for the host computer) includes many new features, improved accessibility for all functions, and an exciting new look. The new GUI also includes support for recently announced options such as the HF2LI-PLL phase-locked loop and the HF2LI-MOD AM/FM modulation.

Only 2 Clicks to Any Setting

All of the configuration screens are well integrated into one window and are easily accessible by means of tabs. As a result, only 2 clicks are needed to reach each and every setting of the HF2 Instrument. Users are able to navigate quickly and intuitively through all the instrument configuration screens.

The new software package consists of the ziBase and the ziControl packages. Users must install both packages when updating their computers. The software can be found in the download center on the Zurich Instruments website. For customer support, please contact support@zhinst.com.

New Technical Note by Zurich Instruments

Frequency Sweep Primer

The purpose of frequency sweeping on an electrical system is to identify points of interest in the frequency spectrum. Such points of interest are poles and resonances which are important to know as they characterize the system. Frequency sweeping consists of applying a stimulus signal and measuring the systems response at many frequencies one after the other. A good sweeper takes care that no energy is left undetected during a sweep. Thus a careful mix between step size and measurement bandwidth needs to be selected.

This technical note covers several underlying principles of frequency sweeping. The second part focusses on the frequency sweeper integrated in the HF2IS and HF2LI with details on functionality and usability.

Tips & Tricks

Running Parallel Multiple Software Tasks

Am I able to analyze and process the data from the HF2 Instrument in multiple software tasks simultaneously?

Yes, the HF2 Instrument features a "best in class", versatile software architecture that allows parallel access from multiple software tasks. Therefore users can seamlessly integrate the instrument into an existing measurement system and interface with 3rd party software programs. For example, a LabVIEW program can control the measurement device, while a custom Matlab or C++ program performs a Fourier analysis on the acquired data, while at the same time the HF2 graphical user interface (called ziControl) will be monitoring the overall experiment setup and functionality. This unique capability of running multiple software tasks in parallel is enabled by the client-server software (called ziServer) that runs on the host PC and connects to the HF2 through the high speed USB interface (480 Mbits/s). Each software task connects to the server as a client, while the server ensures full data and settings consistency. This software architecture is delivered free of charge with the HF2 instrument.

Company Agenda


Meet Zurich Instruments at these upcoming conferences and events:

  • June 21-22 2010, SPS 2010 Jahrestagung of the Swiss Physical Society, University of Basel Switzerland
  • August 1-5, 2010, SPIE Optics + Photonics 2010, San Diego USA
  • August 2-5 2010, NC-AFM 2010 Conference (Non-contact atomic force microscopy), Kanazawa Japan
  • August 24-27 2010, 3rd International NanoBio 2010 Conference, ETH Zurich Switzerland
  • October 3-7 2010, uTAS 2010 (Miniaturized Systems for Life Sciences), Groningen NL
  • November 29-December 3 2010, MRS Fall Meeting 2010 (Materials Research Society), Boston USA

For feedback, comments and subscription service

Stephan Koch
Marketing and Sales / Newsletter Editor

Zurich Instruments AG
Technoparkstrasse 1, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland


phone +41 44 515 0415

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