Zurich Instruments Newsletter - Edition Q2/2020
Welcome to the Q2/2020 newsletter!
One of the keywords of this edition is 'virtual': read on to find out about our webinars and to learn how you can work with our instruments remotely. Additionally, we encourage you to take a look at the latest blog posts by our application scientists. As usual, they cover a broad range of topics – from support for QuCoDeS and Labber to practical tips for improving your impedance measurements.
News from Zurich Instruments
- Tutorial: Qubit characterization with the HDAWG
- Blog Post: Control your measurements with QuCoDeS and Labber
- Blog Post: Sensor characterization and control
- Blog Post: How to reduce the noise floor and improve the SNR with cross-correlation techniques
- Blog Post: 5 tips to improve your impedance measurement
- Application Brief: Microfluidic electrical impedance spectroscopy
Company & Community
- Interview: Dr. Jürg Schwizer, Zurich Instruments AG
- Zurich Instruments Student Travel Grants 2020
- QIDiS 2020
- We are hiring
- Recent publications
News: Resources for virtual times
In the past months, many of us have found alternative ways to work, communicate, and learn. As most of our employees transitioned into home-office mode, application scientist Tobias Thiele wrote two blog posts to share practical advice on how to access your instruments remotely as well as how to properly shut down and restart an instrument without accessing the laboratory. At the same time, not traveling to conferences and shows in person does not prevent us from sharing our knowledge and passion for measurement challenges through other channels. Have you already joined one of our webinars? If not, register now for our upcoming events:
- Impedance Analysis: Measuring Low and Fast
- Optimize the Signal Acquisition for Optics and Photonics Measurements
You can also watch the video recordings of recent webinars on our YouTube channel:
- Virtual SPM User Meeting, Session 1 (on ferroelectrics control) and Session 2 (on time-resolved SPM methods)
- Sensor Characterization and Control Webinar
- Nanostructure Transport Characterization Webinar
News: Why upgrade to LabOne 20.01?
LabOne® is the cockpit for instrument control and signal acquisition: thanks to tools such as Scope, Spectrum Analyzer and Sweeper, LabOne makes measurements efficient and reliable. When you install the latest version of LabOne (currently 20.01), you take advantage of its most recent signal processing developments and stability improvements. In addition to performance enhancement and device-specific tools, LabOne 20.01 offers new software features such as a linear fitting tool, modeling of noise with Gaussian and Rice distributions, and the display of complex signals – all this to add meaning to raw data and to save you from extensive post-processing.
Tutorial: Qubit characterization with the HDAWG
Among the most important and most frequently performed type of measurement in quantum technology applications is qubit characterization. To learn how to use your HDAWG multi-channel Arbitrary Waveform Generator to do just that, take a look at our new tutorial in the HDAWG User Manual. The tutorial discusses how to use existing and new features such as oscillator phase control to perform Rabi oscillation, lifetime and coherence time measurements, as well as spin-locking experiments.
Blog Post: Control your measurements with QCoDeS and Labber
Measurement frameworks are essential to realize complex experiments involving different instruments. That’s why at Zurich Instruments we have developed drivers for QCoDeS and Labber, two leading frameworks used in the nanoelectronics and quantum computing communities. The new drivers enable the use and synchronization of multiple instruments with a user-friendly programming interface. As both drivers are based on the same core, users can integrate the same functionalities into other frameworks too.
Blog Post: Sensor characterization and control
When a sensor's behavior is altered by a change in the surrounding environment, the characterization of the sensor's response is a crucial step for its development. In this blog post, Kıvanç Esat looks at the fastest ways to use time- and frequency-domain tools to characterize sensing devices. Importantly, he shows how to set up feedback loops for sensor control without the need for time-consuming and expensive application-specific integrated circuitry (ASIC) development.
Blog Post: How to reduce the noise floor and improve the SNR with cross-correlation techniques
Weak signals from ultra-sensitive measurements can be obscured by unwanted noise produced by materials and measurement setups. In this blog post, Jithesh Srinivas discusses how to implement a simple cross-correlation technique resulting in the attenuation of the noise floor by a factor of 10 and in a significant improvement of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The method relies on the simultaneous monitoring of two signals, which makes the UHFLI Lock-in Amplifier an ideal choice thanks to its synchronized input channels.
Blog Post: 5 tips to improve your impedance measurement
Are you achieving the best possible accuracy and precision in your impedance measurements? In this blog post, Meng Li shares 5 tips that will help you to acquire high-quality impedance data.
Find out how to:
- Optimize the connection to the device under test to reduce parasitic impedances;
- Perform short-load user compensation to improve accuracy;
- Make a smart choice between the 2-terminal and the 4-terminal configuration;
- Get the most out of auto-ranging to ensure that the instrument works optimally; and
- Understand the balance between measurement speed and precision by tuning bandwidth settings.
Application Brief: Microfluidic electrical impedance spectroscopy
Microfluidics benefits greatly from electrical impedance measurements when it comes to measurement speed and sensitivity. Electrical impedance measurements can be even used in parallel with optical detection methods to get the best of both worlds. This application brief, produced in partnership with Fluigent, presents a typical electrical impedance spectroscopy setup and includes measurement results from an operating microfluidic system.
Thanks to the high measurement speed and the differential current measurement scheme, the HF2LI Lock-in Amplifier (combined with the HF2TA Current Amplifier) resolves clearly individual flow processes within a 5 µs timeframe. The HF2LI enables simultaneous multi-frequency impedance measurements, giving users a full picture of the frequency-dependent dielectric properties of particles and cells as they pass the electrodes.
Interview: Dr. Jürg Schwizer, Zurich Instruments AG
Dr. Jürg Schwizer is Head of Software at Zurich Instruments.
Hi Jürg, when did you join Zurich Instruments, and what were your tasks at the time?
I joined the company in 2009: back then, we were delivering the first HF2LI Lock-in Amplifiers to our customers. We had a slow calibration procedure, so my first task was to automate the calibration process and to develop testing and calibration for production. For this purpose, it was important to have a burn-in test ensuring that large numbers of devices could be sent out to the customers while guaranteeing high quality. This required the use of a scripting language, and that’s how I started developing drivers based on MATLAB® and Python for the instruments.
Another concern was the stability of the software, where the data server between the instrument and the PC had to work for extended periods of time (weeks). I fixed multithreading and driver issues to achieve the targeted long-term stability of the software. My professional experience at a semiconductor verification company helped me to identify these sporadic failure cases.
How did you conceive LabOne®? How did it fit with your vision of software development for measurement instrumentation?
The idea was partially formulated during my physics PhD in sensor technology, where we developed a framework for handling large amounts of data for our instrumentation. We had to build it ourselves, as no commercial solution was available. At Zurich Instruments, LabOne came up as a full measurement framework concept that includes the user interface (UI), the data servers and the application programming interfaces (APIs). The first UI was called ziControl: it was designed with only one instrument in mind and no scaling capabilities. When we started working on the UHFLI Lock-in Amplifier, we knew that this instrument needed a new user interface and a more scalable data server. The most obvious candidate was browser technology, but it was not clear whether it would be able to handle large amounts of measurement data coming from the devices. Web browsers are optimized for video streaming, not for measurement data. Before LabOne, there existed no full standalone UI framework built in a web browser. Our first feasibility study involved plotter data processing in the web browser, which encouragingly showed fluid data updates.
What is the advantage of a web-browser-based UI?
The first advantage is portability: you can run the UI on Mac OS without the need to compile anything. You can also run it on a tablet, a phone – on any device that supports a web browser. These devices can be connected through a wireless network, so the connectivity extends. One of the most important technical aspects is that web browsers rely on the latest technology and on constant development. If you don't use a standard UI framework, the drawback is that you need to build everything from scratch to achieve high refresh rates on measurement data rendering. The advantage is that you are free to develop innovative solutions for measurement data handling with a focus on user experience.
How do you see software as an instrument's move to the next level? In other words, what's next for measurement technology?
The next challenge is to work with big teams on large datasets. Measurements used to be a single-user affair: collect the data, analyze the data, and publish them with the group. Today we see large measurement systems with big teams working on them together. There is time sharing, calibration sharing… You need to be able to handle all of this with a big and remote team.
What about instrument communication protocols – where is the technology, and does a field such as quantum computing (QC) demand radical change on this front?
At the quantum scale, coherence times are shorter than communication times and so everything needs to happen in real time. Conventional instrument communication protocols are not fast enough to handle this kind of need. Large experiments such as the ones based at CERN can do this, and this approach now has to be implemented in smaller labs that want to work with QC systems.
How has the fast progress in the area of QC changed your approach to software development for measurement and control instruments?
At the moment, some groups working on QC have developed hardware-specific frameworks with very little abstraction; this is not a sustainable solution, as complexity grows faster than the ability to build new software from scratch.
There is now the need to design software that can handle highly complex machines, so that one can perform millions of experiments and still keep track of where the problems are. With the growing complexity of QC setups, it will not be possible to trace back where problems occur unless error discovery is designed into the software. In setups with tens of devices, each of these needs to be ten times more reliable for the entire system to work reliably.
This sounds fascinating: how will the users' perspective change in this respect?
The users' perspective will change in the way that they will still want to be able to control timings and pulse shapes, for example, but they will be able to choose the level of abstraction in the process. Another challenge is orchestrating these tens of devices: the timings, the exact waveforms played, etc. The same procedure needs to be repeated many times and averaged, and for this users need exact protocol repetition to obtain reliable results.
What are your other interests? What do you do when you don't work?
I seem to be attracted to all states of water. In winter I ski, and in the summer I go for windsurfing in Switzerland and around the world. In sports, I like technical challenges and to use my experience to handle situations where there is always something new to learn.
Zurich Instruments Student Travel Grants 2020
As you may already know, the Zurich Instruments Student Travel Grants are back for the sixth year in a row. The prize allows three young researchers to attend a scientific conference scheduled in 2020 or 2021. This year, in the light of the current worldwide situation, we decided that the winners of the grants will also be able to spend their prizes to buy textbooks, to cover fees for virtual conferences and events, or to take online courses.
If you are a PhD student or a postdoctoral researcher who published a paper mentioning one of Zurich Instruments' products, apply by June 30th for a chance to win! For more details, click here.
For the third year in a row, Zurich Instruments is proud to be one of the founding sponsors of the Quantum Industry Day in Switzerland (QIDiS). This annual meeting gathers representatives from academic and industrial R&D to foster knowledge exchange and accelerate the development of new quantum products. Hosted in Zurich on October 2nd, the day's program will cover the areas of quantum computing, quantum sensing, quantum instrumentation, and quantum communication.
We are hiring
Are you passionate about science, technology, and instrumentation? Join our dynamic team and break new ground in high-end scientific instrumentation created for scientists and engineers in leading laboratories around the world. Be at the cutting edge of technology – we have exciting open positions in R&D, marketing and sales, and operations:
Headquarters Zurich, Switzerland
- DevOps Engineer
- Front-end Developer
- Senior FPGA and Firmware Engineer
- Senior Software Engineer C++
- Senior Software Engineer C++ for Quantum Computing
- Team Leader Software for Quantum Computing
Zurich Instruments USA (Boston)
- Application Scientist (Physics) - Boston area
- Application Scientist (Quantum Technology) - Boston Area
Zurich Instruments China (Shanghai)
- Application Engineer China
- Application Scientist China (Physics, EE)
- Application Scientist Quantum Computing China
- Technical Sales China
Recent publications featuring the HF2LI and the UHFLI
- Xiong, H. et al. Background-free imaging of chemical bonds by a simple and robust frequency-modulated stimulated Raman scattering microscopy. Opt. Expr. 28, 15663-15677 (2020).
- Moreira, E.E. et al. Highly sensitive MEMS frequency modulated accelerometer with small footprint. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical 112005 (2020) – DOI: 10.1016/j.sna.2020.112005 (In Press).