Edition Q3/2015


Welcome to Zurich Instruments’ latest newsletter.

In this edition we’re announcing that the LabOne user interface will be available for the HF2LI 50 MHz Lock-in Amplifier, included with all deliveries from September onwards and as an upgrade for existing users. You can get a quotation for the HF2LI-WEB upgrade from our new Webshop, where you’ll also be able to get a personalized offer for the new MFLI lock-in.

Our interviewee this time is Dal Wilson, a member of the Kippenberg group at EPFL in Switzerland, who’s working in the emerging research frontiers of cavity quantum optomechanical phenomena.

The 600 MHz UHFLI allows for the capture of huge amounts of data, even more so when equipped with the UHF-DIG Digitizer option, and this calls for optimization of the instrument and computer setup to ensure that no data point is missed. The UHF-DIG also makes powerful and complex cross-domain triggering possible. Both these topics are covered below and in two recent blog posts.

The latest version of LabOne, 15.05, was released recently and we take a look at the highlights of this new version. If you’ve haven’t already updated your software, take a moment to look at what 15.05 offers and go to our website to download it – remember it’s free and, of course, recommended.

Did you also know that we have premium quality aluminium instrument transport cases available? The instrument travel section gives more details.

Finally, as always we’re going to be busy at a variety of conferences and exhibitions over the next few months. Take a look at the complete list below and, if you're going to be at any of the events, remember to come and visit the Zurich Instruments booth.

LabOne User Interface for HF2LI

The same software for all Instruments

When we introduced the 600 MHz UHFLI lock-in amplifier in 2013, it was the first of our instruments to use our innovative LabOne software platform. Running from a web browser, LabOne offers the ultimate flexibility in lock-in control and a comprehensive toolset fully integrated into a single screen, all easily manipulated using an open and intuitive interface incorporating drag-and-drop functionality. Since then, hundreds of customers have benefited from the ease of use that LabOne brings to them, and it has been continuously improved. The recently launched 500 kHz/5 MHz MFLI lock-in amplifier also uses LabOne and ensures customers can move seamlessly from one instrument to the next, without needing to master another user interface, and also use the same programs (specifications and parameters permitting).

Until now the HF2LI was equiped with the LabVIEW based ziControl as a graphical user interface. Today we are announcing that, with all new orders, the HF2LI will be ready for the introduction of the LabOne user Interface with LabOne version 15.11, scheduled for November release.

Benefits for HF2LI users

Let’s take a quick look what additional benefits the LabOne user interface offers to you:

Platform independent user interface – whether it’s a PC, smartphone or tablet, as long as your device has a web browser you can use the instrument.

Flexible user interface layout – with its tab structure and drag-and-drop functionality, the user interface can be adapted to your requirements and preferences.

Whole-screen usage for tools – the scope and other tools are no longer limited to a small window and can even be shown in full-screen mode.

Simultaneous multiple screens – multiple instances of the user interface can be opened, to assist with measurement and instrument control.

Graphical lock-in tab – a streamlined and intuitive graphical representation of the lock-in that simplifies the use of the instrument for when only the core functionality is required.

Sweeper – new application modes supporting dedicated noise measurements and higher scan speeds, with automatic sinc filter support.

You can find more details on our LabOne webpage and the HF2LI-WEB page.

Upgrade options

If you already own an HF2LI, you will also be able to upgrade to the LabOne user interface, via several routes.

  • Request a quote for HF2LI-WEB on our webpage, place your order and we’ll then supply a feature code to make sure your instrument is ready for LabOne 15.11.
  • Alternatively, get your instrument calibrated (HF2LI-CAL) and the upgrade will be included in the price.
  • And for those of you who are thinking about getting another Zurich Instruments HF2LI or UHFLI, if you place an order before the end of March 2016 we’ll also upgrade one of your existing HF2LI instruments free of charge.

Customer Interview: Dalziel J. Wilson

Dalziel J. Wilson
Hi Dal, you are currently working as a scientist in the Kippenberg group at the EPFL. What is the main focus of your research?
Hi, Jelena.  We study optomechanics, which deals with the measurement and control of mechanical objects with light.  Our speciality is coupling nanomechanical resonators to optical microcavities. These devices are so sensitive that we can manipulate a single quantum of mechanical motion (a phonon) with a single photon.

How will the sensors you are exploring influence our lives?
Well, on one hand, nanomechanical resonators are a key component of precision mass and force sensors. Figuring out how to manipulate nanomechanical motion with greater precision may help, for example, improve the resolution of an atomic force microscope to the level of single nuclear spin, or the resolution of a mass spectrometer to single atoms/molecules. This would have pleasant consequences for biomedical and material science. Cavity optomechanical systems also enable mechanical resonators to be used for measurement and frequency conversion of light, from RF to microwave to optical domain. This has obvious appeal to the telecommunications industry.  My favorite "application", though, is gravity-wave astronomy. If we can realize ultra-precise, long baseline position measurements (namely, if we can resolve the distance between km-separated objects to a precision 1000 times smaller than a proton in roughly 1 second), then we ought to see the world "shaking" due to small ripples in spacetime called gravity waves. These waves are produced by violent cosmological events like the collisions of black holes, and - if we could detect them - would open an whole new window into the universe... It's been more than 20 years, though, and we still haven't measured one!

How does our instrument help you achieve your results?
Most of what we do in the lab is RF noise spectroscopy. In particular, we study the Brownian motion of small mechanical resonators. These are multimode resonators with frequencies in the range of 100 kHz to 100 MHz, and with bandwidths as narrow as 1 Hz. The frequency flexibility of the UHFLI comes in handy for a variety of bread-and-butter tasks. Currently we like the UHF-DIG Digitizer option for taking broad, high density FFTs. We also use the UHFLI for ringdown measurements (in this case we employ it as a lock-in). In the future we plan to use it for cross-correlation measurements and feedback control. It's of course very appealing to have these capabilities integrated into a single box.

When did you come to Switzerland and how did you adjust to your life here?
I came to Switzerland in July of 2013. I'm still adjusting. I find that it helps to spend a least one day per week in the Alps.

Do you own a mobile telephone?

High data transfer rates and cross-domain triggering

Lock-in and Digitizer in the same Instrument

Lock-in amplifiers rely on periodic signals and are very effective in reducing noise over a certain bandwidth in the Fourier space. However, when it comes to asynchronous signals they are of limited use. In order to support experiments with both sychronous and asynchronous detection requirements, Zurich Instruments offers in addition to the lock-in functionality the UHF-DIG Digitizer option with 2 Scope Channels: 1.8 GSa/s sampling rate, 12 bits of vertical resolution and up to 128 MSa per shot or 14 MSa/s continuous transfer rate. Further tools include cross-domain triggering, trigger gating, an Arithmetic Unit, segmented memory and full API support to record asynchronous signals or capture transient phenomena over a large bandwidth.
The following sections introduce two of our recent blog posts that provide nice examples of how such functionality can be exploited.

Cross-domain Triggering

Zurich Instruments strongly favors smart data over big data (even if you can have it all!); this means not only effective data crunching with lock-in or boxcar techniques, but also smart triggering conditions to record only the necessary amount of data at the fastest rate and avoiding storing huge amounts of data (with only limited information inside). This can be done, for instance, using cross-domain triggering where trigger conditions from any internal signal or external trigger can generate data capture across the whole data collection. With the Arithmetic Unit it is also possible to generate more complex trigger schemes, a typical example being the phase difference between 2 demodulator outputs. More details and screen shots are provided in this blog of Romain Stomp.

Highest Data Rates

UHFLI users can demodulate samples using narrow to wide band filters, with up to 5 MHz bandwidth. Until now continuous or hardware triggered data transfer was possible at up to several 100 kSa/s per demodulator channel. With the UHF-DIG Digitizer option you can now stream data up to 14 MSa/s on 1G and up to 28 MSa/s on 10G Ethernet when the complete data set matters. Within the same familiar LabOne environment the Scope and Plotter become quasi real-time monitors of massive data streaming, available for recording after any trigger condition or in a continuous manner. Details on the optimization of suitable high data rates and block diagrams are available for further reading on this blog of Bruno Küng.

New Video: Two Optical Choppers on a single MFLI

The latest video on the Zurich Instruments YouTube channel is also the first video describing a specific application and the first video available in Chinese and English. The use of lock-in amplifiers in combination with optical choppers is among the most common of all low frequency lock-in amplifier applications. James shows in the video how to easily set up an experiment that makes use of 2 different choppers simultaneously. This helps to save valuable real estate in the lab and reduce the complexity of the setup.

Release 15.05: Highlights

A new version of LabOne has been released recently. We always recommend that all users download the latest version from our homepage and, as ever, it's free of charge for all Zurich Instruments customers.

UHFLI users benefit from a large number of additions brought to the LabOne user interface, the most important highlights being:

  • Graphical Lock-in Tab: intuitive control with the new functional block diagrams for every demodulator, dynamically displaying lock-in functionality and signal routing
  • Scope, Demodulators and PID: full support of input signal scaling
  • File Manager: new tab for direct access to measurement files, settings files and log files
  • Instrument Presets: flexible choice of start-up configuration for stand alone operation (PC independent)
  • LabOne C API: support for Sweeper, Software Trigger, PID Advisor and Spectrum Analyzer modules
  • LabOne LabVIEW API: OSX support
  • LabOne LabVIEW API: support of Sweeper, Spectrum Analyzer and PID Advisor modules

Please note, the UHFLI firmware has also been improved and hence a firmware update is necessary. The Firmware update guide shows how to do that quickly.

HF2LI and HF2IS users also benefit from several improvements on the API side:

  • LabOne C API: support for Sweeper, Software Trigger, PID Advisor and Spectrum Analyzer modules
  • LabOne LabVIEW API: OSX support
  • LabOne LabVIEW API: support of Sweeper, Spectrum Analyzer and PID Advisor modules

Please refer to the Release Notes in the download area for a full list of changes, as well as for instructions about how to update the software.

Instrument travel: Aluminium Transport Case

Our products are not only industry leading, in terms of their performance and functionality, but also extremely robust and we often hear of customers carrying their HF2LI or UHFLI from one lab to the next without worrying too much about what might happen – in contrast to their experiences with older style instruments.

Nevertheless, it's always sensible to take care of your prize possessions and for those of you who are moving your precious Instrument around on a regular basis - if only to show it off to jealous colleagues - we have the ideal solution to make sure nothing untoward happens. Our aluminium transport cases are light and strong and have special inserts to hold your HF2 Series or UHF Series instrument snuggly and securely. There's also space for cables and accessories and we've made sure that they're the right size for carry-on baggage, so there's no need to check it when you're flying. To get a quotation, please use the "Add to Cart" button and retrieve a quotation through our new webshop.

The Zurich Instruments aluminium transport case.
Your instrument. Secured.

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