Zurich Instruments Newsletter - Edition Q3/2014


  • Editorial
  • Customer Interview: Sangmoo Jeong
  • Tips & Tricks: Ground Noise and Ground Loops
  • Reduce Lab Setup Complexity: Launching LabOne
  • Reduce Lab Setup Complexity: The Periodic Waveform Analyzer, Part 2
  • Premium Customer Care: Product Warranty Extension
  • Premium Customer Care: LabOne Release 14.02
  • Company Agenda



Welcome to the Zurich Instruments newsletter for the third quarter of 2014.

We'll be taking a look at the recently launched LabOne, our new Test & Measurement philosophy, incorporating all of the technology and know-how that we've developed over the past few years.

In an interview with Sangmoo Jeong, from Harvard's Center for Systems Biology, we'll see how an UHFLI is being used in an NMR application. There's a second look at the Periodic Waveform Analyzer (PWA), part of the UHF-BOX option for the UHFLI, some advice on how to deal with ground noise and ground loops and a reminder that an extended warranty is available for your instrument. Finally, there's a section on our latest software update, LabOne14.02, which was recently released - remember all of our software updates for your instrument are free of charge!

Customer Interview



Sangmoo Jeong

At the moment you are working as a postdoc at Harvard Medical School and you are based in Massachusetts General Hospital. What influenced your choice of the lab?

I did my PhD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, and my research was focused on design and fabrication of scalable nanostructures for energy applications. After my PhD, I was interested in applying my specialties to the biomedical field. Boston is famous as the center of biomedical research, and I found a position in Dr. Ralph Weissleder's lab in Massachusetts General Hospital, which has a great reputation for translational medicine research.

In our lab, we work as an interdisciplinary team of engineers, biologists, chemists, physicists, and, in particular, physicians. This is a strong edge of our lab for the medical research: we can directly address unmet clinical needs with innovative ideas.

Can you tell us more about your project?

Our lab has developed diagnostic platforms for cancer and infectious disease. We use magnetic nanoparticles to bind cancer cells or bacteria and develop magnetic sensors to detect and count them in the peripheral blood. We detect iron oxide based nanoparticles with a diameter of 10-15 nm by Hall sensors made of 2DEG III-Vs and Si, being operated at less than 1 MHz.

You have recently added one of Zurich Instruments products: 600MHz UHFLI lock-in to your project. How will UHFLI be able to help you achieve your goals, improve your measurements?

The Ultra High Frequency Lock-in of Zurich Instruments has two main advantages for our research. One is its fast demodulation capability and the other is its extremely low noise. We will also use the UHFLI for our NMR measurements, for which we need a low-noise detection method with an operating frequency of about 20 MHz.

Did our product make your research easier and better?

At the moment we are in the stage of testing different options such as the frequency sweeper and the possibility to simultaneously measure 2nd and 3th harmonics.

Working in an international team can sometimes be challenging and funny at the same time. Did you experience some funny moments with your team?

It is not a challenge, but we do share our daily hustles. We have a lot of fun, because we all have different cultural and research background. It has definitely more of a synergetic effect. The funny thing about having different cultures is when I make some jokes; the guys from Europe don’t understand my jokes, so I just laugh myself.

What are your plans for the future?

I came to this lab 1 year ago and want to stay here for a couple of years more. After that, I will apply for a permanent position in an academic institution. But, I am open for start-up venture opportunities as well.

If you could give other researchers in your field, a hint to make their research lives easier, what would it be?

I like your products, and I will definitely recommend your company for low-noise lock-in amplifiers. And of course, Boston is a great place for biomedical research. You can see so many opportunities for collaboration with highly motivated and intelligent researchers.

Tips & Tricks



Ground Noise and Ground Loops

Ground noise and ground loops pose a serious problem in many measurement setups. Due to the multiple connections between the individual devices several ground related noise sources can pop up in the signal being measured. These issues can be high-frequency oscillations (>10 MHz), 50/60 Hz power line crosstalk or other pickup from electromagnetic fields. Ground noise can sometimes couple into the signal path capacitively but more likely through pre-amplifiers where the signal input and output voltages are referenced to ground. Therefore, any disturbances on the reference ground will also show up as noise in the signal.

Electromagnetic field (EMF) disturbances into loops

Connecting different cables and ground shields together form multiple loops. According to Faraday's Law, an induced current will be generated in a closed, conducting loop when the loop experiences an external EMF. This also applies to the ground loops. And since a ground loop is never perfectly conductive (i.e. resistive), a voltage noise will result from the induced current. Having multiple ground loops makes the prediction of where the noise will travel even more difficult since each ground loop may have slightly different resistance and inductance, thus experiencing different noise coupling.

Multiple reference potentials

Very often, when connecting to several instruments, the reference ground of two devices may not be the same. Or, for example, one reference ground may be noisier than the other. In such configurations the reference potential at which each instrument is working is different causing a measurement error from noise coupling.

Imperfect earthing scheme

It may be very difficult to verify that noise is being coupled from building earth ground into the earth connection of the measurement instrument. Most instruments have multiple earth connections including the 3rd pin in the power connection or dedicated earth pins or earth screws. If the building earth scheme is not clean enough, this will generate additional noise components in the signal of interest.

For advice on how to minimize ground-related noise sources, in particular in connection with the use of the HF2TA Current Amplifier, please consult Reduce Ground Disturbances when using HF2TA Transimpedance Amplifier in a Measurement Setup in the blog section of our website.

Reduce Lab Setup Complexity


Launching LabOne

Since its foundation over 6 years ago, and with an ever growing worldwide customer base, Zurich Instruments has had a major impact on the way lock-in amplifiers are perceived and has raised the expectations of users to new levels. The integration of time domain and frequency domain tools inside a single, highly capable, user interface together with fully functional programming interfaces is what Zurich Instruments has branded as LabOne. The chosen name represents the true essence of the "reduce lab setup complexity" product philosophy that we have been adhering to over the past few years.

Zurich Instruments introduces LabOne as the test & measurement philosophy that meets the specific needs of the research community. Thanks to intensive exchanges with scientists and engineers worldwide, from a broad range of research areas, Zurich Instruments has devised a comprehensive measurement solution with unprecedented capabilities, focusing on:

  • Powerful user interface
  • Integrated toolset
  • Choice of application programming interfaces
  • Platform independent operation

Zurich Instruments aims for LabOne to become a leading test & measurement philosophy, providing a wealth of features and an impressive user experience.

All users of Zurich Instruments products will immediately benefit from LabOne, with the introduction of one software package for all of our instruments. The benefits include more features, higher stability and programming code compatibility between all instrumentation. UHFLI users will also benefit from the browser based GUI, with its drag and drop design allowing the user to customize his or her workspace.

To find out more about LabOne and how users can realize its potential, please visit our website.

Reduce Lab Setup Complexity


The Periodic Waveform Analyzer, Part 2

In the last newsletter we introduced the Periodic Waveform Analyzer (PWA). Googling "periodic waveform analyzer" does not give a great number of search results, so one could conclude that the concept is a brand new development. So why would a relatively new entrant to the test & measurement market claim to have introduced a new class of instruments? Because at Zurich Instruments we are convinced that we're able to deliver a new test & measurement experience to many users world-wide, justifying this potentially bold claim.

This PWA allows for the acquisition of periodic signals, taking a stream of digitized samples at its inputs and referring them to their phase within the signal period. Acquired samples are assigned to a data bin and averaged over time. The nice consequence of this is that within a few dozen periods the instrument has acquired enough samples in all the data bins to display the signal waveform as a function of time or phase with a resolution that is much higher than the sampling of the analog-to-digital converters. However, this is pretty much what a sampling scope would do.

Sampling scopes however are triggered instruments, working with random or periodic triggers, and hence suffer from the jitter and delays introduced by those triggers. In contrast, the PWA works for periodic signals and can make use of phase-locked loops in order to stabilize the reference frequency (periodic trigger) and hence produce a waveform display that is much more stable, free of jitter and trigger inefficiencies. The results is that the measurement of a periodic signal is much simpler and straightforward when compared to a sampling scope.

When the PWA is used with a sinusoidal signal, the result in the time/phase domain is not particularly exciting. However, a sinusoidal signal is never perfect and has distortions. If the PWA samples undergo an FFT, the result will be the instantaneous display of the signal at hundreds of harmonics of the reference frequency, and hence one can immediately seize the distortion of the signal which might seem perfect in the time domain. If one or two harmonics stand out, then the lock-in amplifier would be the most efficient signal detection approach.

When the PWA is applied to a non sinusoidal signal however, the time/phase display is more interesting and displays in real-time one period of the signal of interest. Assuming this is a pulse, then the FFT on the PWA samples will indicate the presence of signal energy at many harmonic frequencies. If the pulse is relatively short, a boxcar averager might be the preferred detection strategy.

Summarizing, the PWA employs different analysis strategies compared to other instrument classes in the market and therefore we're happy to introduce it to the test & measurement world. Moreover, it's extremely useful in determining the signal measurement strategy, i.e. whether a lock-in amplifier or a boxcar averager would be the better acquisition method. Finally, having the PWA combined in a single instrument with a lock-in amplifier and a boxcar averager (such and the UHFLI Lock-in Amplifier with UHF-BOX Boxcar Averager option) provides the flexibility many researchers world-wide have been looking for for a longtime.

Premium Customer Care


Product Warranty Extension

Zurich Instruments prides itself on the quality and reliability of its products - our instruments are manufactured in Switzerland with the precision and attention to detail in keeping with the country's reputation. We offer a standard warranty of 1 year for electronic parts and labor on defects in material and workmanship, with worldwide return shipping included.

However, we understand that sometimes customers want to have that extra peace of mind that an extended warranty brings. For this reason we offer an optional 2 year warranty extension, for purchase within the first year of ownership. This brings the warranty coverage up to a total of three years.

If you're interested in finding out more, please send us an extended warranty request.

Premium Customer Care


LabOne Release 14.02

It is highly recommended to keep the software of your ZI instrument up to date and, best of all, updates are free of charge for the lifetime of your instrument.

The latest software releases (14.02 for the HF2 series and the UHFLI) provide a range of great new features and upgrades and are available from our download site (user and password authentication is required). Support for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Linux operating systems are provided.

For those of you using LabVIEW with one of our instruments, please note that we've reworked the LabVIEW driver so that it is compatible with all Zurich Instruments products. At the same time we've made improvements in the data acquisition routines and added a new VI which supports more data types. Whilst we took care to stay as compatible to previous driver versions as possible, a couple of changes are required in order to upgrade your VIs to LabOne. These are covered in our LabVIEW blog.

What is new in 14.02

  • UHF-10G Optical Ethernet option fully supported
  • UHF-BOX Boxcar option: support for baseline suppression
  • UHF-PID option: added phase unwrap feature
  • Periodic waveform analyzer (PWA): increased number of bins to 1024 and higher update rate
  • Start-up screen with device and setting selection: added support of multiple devices per server
  • Added cursor Math and histogram to oscilloscope
  • Net Link support for CSV transfer to other applications (Excel,...)

More details to be found on our Software Downloads page.

Company Agenda



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Stephan Koch
Marketing and Sales / Newsletter Editor

Zurich Instruments AG
Technoparkstrasse 1, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland

, www.zhinst.com

phone +41 44 515 0415

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