Zurich Instruments Newsletter - Edition Q4/2020
Welcome to the Q4/2020 newsletter!
This edition features our latest selection of measurement tips and tricks: read on to find out how to capture scanning probe microscopy images with the LabOne® software, how to perform dielectric measurements, and how to characterize SMD shunt resistors. For a lighter read, get to know us better through the interviews with our employees.
- Video: Getting started with lock-in amplifiers and LabVIEW
- User Story: Capturing SPM images with LabOne
- Interview: Dr. David Albertini, INL and INSA Lyon
- Blog Post: Get additional insights into your setup with the MF-DIG Digitizer option
- News: The next generation of quantum analyzers – virtual launch event
- Video: Scaling up quantum computing control systems to 100 qubits and beyond
- Blog Post: Measuring dielectric properties of materials with varying thickness
- Blog Post: Inductance of an SMD shunt resistor measured with the MFIA
Company & Community
Video: Getting started with lock-in amplifiers and LabVIEW
Would you like to start incorporating Zurich Instruments' device control and data acquisition into your LabVIEW™ code? In this video and related blog post, Claudius Riek considers a basic example – reading a value out of a lock-in amplifier – as the starting point. He discusses the resources available to build on this example and make the integration of Zurich Instruments' products in your code straightforward and fast, so that you can continue to focus on your research.
User Story: Capturing SPM images with LabOne
Zurich Instruments' Lock-in Amplifiers are widely used in dynamic atomic force microscopy (AFM) thanks to their performance and flexibility. Real-time analysis and feedback can be performed digitally on the instrument, but the resulting outputs are normally acquired by the microscope electronics through auxiliary analog channels for imaging with AFM software. The drawbacks of this approach are the extra quantization noise due to unnecessary digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital conversions and the limitation imposed by the number of available analog I/O.
With the data acquisition module of LabOne, users can acquire images from all internal channels without any domain conversion. The outcome of the project carried out by Adrianos Sidiras Galante and supervised by Dr. David Albertini from the CNRS Institute of Nanotechnology (INL) in Lyon, France, is an open-source software package, based on the LabOne Python API, which records SPM images directly from an HF2LI Lock-in Amplifier synchronized to a NanoScope V microscopy system from Bruker. The software package is available on this GitHub repository.
Interview: Dr. David Albertini, INL and INSA Lyon
|Dr. David Albertini is a research engineer at the Institut des Nanotechnologies de Lyon (INL) and the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA) Lyon.|
As a CNRS research engineer, how do you help the advancement of science in academia?
My work (and more generally the work of research engineers) covers several aspects. First of all, I provide experimental support to other researchers thanks to my technical expertise but also to my scientific knowledge. In the French research system, those who best know laboratory instrumentation are often engineers or technicians. I also develop new techniques or procedures to get the most out of my microscopes, which I maintain and keep up to date. I always try to obtain the best possible resolution on more and more complex samples – in particular with modes such as piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM), for example.
So one could say that my role is to pass on my knowledge, train students and researchers, as well as to extend the possibilities of microscopes and bring new modes to the laboratory. The bimodal mode for nanomechanics on soft materials is a good example of the latter aspect; the HF2LI Lock-in Amplifier will be highly involved in this work!
What exciting projects have you recently worked on?
Working in ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions on the Omicron VT-AFM is a real pleasure. This summer, I studied ZnO layers in Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) at different temperatures with Alexander Singaevsky: we had a great time, because we discovered new things with every new image. With Etienne Puyoo, we conducted a new study with scanning Joule expansion microscopy, which is an indirect method for thermal imaging at the nanoscale. We looked at the physical expansion of the material under stress via atomic force microscopy (AFM). This was partly achieved with the HF2LI, but the mode remains to be developed further.
I also like to push PFM, the laboratory's flagship mode, to its extreme limits. Attaining high resolution on KNNO in lateral PFM or doing PFM through electrodes is very motivating as it opens perspectives for more difficult materials (such as the HZO I am currently working on with Nicolas Baboux).
You have been an HF2LI user for more than 6 years now, and you have used it on several setups: what are the advantages of this type of instrument for an engineer like you?
When the first HF2LI arrived in the laboratory, Brice Gautier and I knew exactly what we wanted to do: frequency tracking for PFM. The HF2LI allowed us to achieve this, and we made good experimental and scientific progress in our understanding of ferroelectric materials. Very quickly, I saw the opportunity to share this knowledge with the community, as I convinced myself that the HF2LI would become more popular in other laboratories too. With Michel Ramonda, who already used his HF2LI for contact resonance AFM, we decided to propose PFM and nanomechanics workshops with funding from the CNRS RéMiSoL network. This project was a success: there is now a solid community of specialists. For example, Denis Mariolle developed KPFM in a single-pass scheme and we organized workshops on this subject in Grenoble.
It takes time to understand the HF2LI’s capability in depth, but the software interface improves with each version and is of great help. I think I master a tiny part of the HF2LI electronics. What is clear is that for modes such as dual-frequency resonance tracking PFM, the HF2LI is precise, is characterized by very low noise and gives maximum performance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected work in laboratories around the world. Have you found ways to control experiments remotely or work on projects that do not require you to be in front of an AFM?
In March, at the time of the first confinement period, my biggest regret was to not have brought an HF2LI at home to try to interface it with Python. I have since made up for it thanks to Adrianos Sidiras Galante, who programmed Zi² under my supervision: this tool allows us to capture the signals from the HF2LI (synchronized to the Bruker Nanoscope V electronics) and plot them in AFM images. The code is available on GitHub. This experience made me realize that programming is a full-time job!
Apart from programming AFMs, what are your hobbies?
Since 1994 and my first encounters with the internet, I have been programming websites (for the RéMiSoL network and the Forum event, for example); during the first confinement I worked on my personal blog, which focuses on my scientific research. I also like video games, which I play with the participation of my cat Miù. I love listening to music, and have recently started as a hobbyist in the HiFi area, which turns out to be a huge and highly scientific world as well!
Blog Post: Get additional insights into your setup with the MF-DIG Digitizer option
When performing measurements with lock-in amplifiers, the goal is to reject noise and achieve a large signal-to-noise ratio at a single frequency. But as we gain in signal quality, we lose valuable physical information contained in the noise spectrum. Combining an oscilloscope or a network analyzer with the lock-in amplifier is often not possible. If you own an MFLI Lock-in Amplifier, however, such complementary measurements can be performed simultaneously thanks to the MF-DIG Digitizer option. In this blog post, Jelena Trbovic shows how you can get further physical insights into your setup with the Zurich Instruments Lock-in Amplifiers.
News: The next generation of quantum analyzers – virtual launch event
Would you like to improve the readout of your superconducting qubits, increase the fidelity of your quantum algorithm or scale up your qubit system size? These are the goals that motivated us to bring to the market the SHFQA Quantum Analyzer.
On 17 November 2020, we will hold a virtual event to provide you with a technical overview of the SHFQA and discuss the strengths of its integrated, mixer-calibration-free frequency conversion scheme. We will also show you how to measure a resonator at 8 GHz and perform the readout of 16 qubits in parallel.
To learn more now about how the SHFQA fits into our quantum computing vision, take a look at Zurich Instruments' talk at the recent Quantum Industry Day in Switzerland (QIDiS) event.
Video: Scaling up quantum computing control systems to 100 qubits and beyond
What is Zurich Instruments' approach to scaling up quantum computing control systems to hundreds of qubits? The launch of the SHFQA Quantum Analyzer for direct qubit readout and the development of the LabOne QCCS Software are part of the answer to this question, as discussed by our CMO Jan Benhelm at this year's QIDiS event, which gathered academic and industrial R&D in the area of quantum technologies. The recording of Jan's talk is now available on our YouTube channel.
Blog Post: Measuring dielectric properties of materials with varying thickness
Do you work with dielectric materials? Are you aware of the tricks and pitfalls to keep in mind when characterizing their dielectric properties? In this blog post, Meng Li describes how to accurately measure the dielectric properties of rough polymer disc samples with the MFIA Impedance Analyzer and its LabOne software, discussing how sample thickness can affect such measurements. The measurement strategy relies on:
- Optimizing the use of the auto-ranging function to cover broad impedance and frequency ranges.
- Harnessing the power of the latest one-period averaging functionality in LabOne to increase the measurement speed.
- Compensating surface roughness with a non-contact method to obtain accurate results.
Blog Post: Inductance of an SMD shunt resistor measured with the MFIA
Accurate current measurements are critical to optimizing any electronic system. The most common way of measuring current at a given point in a circuit is with a shunt resistor placed in a parallel configuration. The resistance of these shunt resistors is well-defined, but have you ever considered how the inductance affects the overall impedance as the frequency increases? In this blog post, Tim Ashworth measures a 5 mΩ SMD shunt resistor with the MFIA Impedance Analyzer, confirming the parallel resistance and measuring the inductance at 100 kHz.
This is us
Earlier this year we asked ourselves: how can we best describe what it feels like to work at Zurich Instruments? Go to this webpage to hear directly from our employees how they came to the company, what their roles entail and what their fondest memories of their time at Zurich Instruments are.
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
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- Application Engineer China
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- Application Scientist Quantum Computing China
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Recent publications featuring the HF2LI, the UHFLI and the MFLI
- Gordon-Wylie, S. et al. Measuring protein biomarker concentrations using antibody tagged magnetic nanoparticles. Biomed. Phys. Eng. Express, Accepted Manuscript (2020).
- Schumacher, Z. et al. Nanoscale force sensing of an ultrafast nonlinear optical response. PNAS 117, 19773-19779 (2020).
- Martin-Jimenez, D. et al. Bond-level imaging of organic molecules using Q-controlled amplitude modulation atomic force microscopy. Appl. Phys. Lett. 117, 131601 (2020).