Edition Q3/2019


Welcome to the Q3/2019 newsletter!

Over the summer we created a new version of LabOne, plus plenty of new content for you. Enjoy the latest news, tips & tricks, and know-how from our application scientists:

Quantum Technologies

Lock-in Amplifiers


Company & Community

LabOne release 19.05: macOS support and improved data handling

We are very excited to share LabOne release 19.05 with full support for macOS for the LabOne Web Server and Data Servers.

We have added HDF5 file format support which improves workflows by, for example, enabling storage and reloading of data in the LabOne modules. You can drag & drop data into the Sweeper, Data Acquisition module (DAQ), Scope and Spectrum Analyzer tools to make quick comparisons. It's now also possible to generate report-ready graphics in just a few clicks. Python users will benefit from superior file handling compared to Matlab-structured files. Install the latest version of LabOne now and benefit from the most recent improvements free of charge!

For a full guide on how to save and reload data into the LabOne modules, have look at Tim Ashworth's blog.

Blog post: Are your parametric two-qubit gates limited by the driving AWG?

No, is the short answer, if you are using a Zurich Instruments HDAWG.

A recent analysis by Fried et al. from Rigetti Computing, available at arXiv.org, concluded that for a noise power spectral density (PSD) or “noise floor” below -135 dBm we can expect practically no contribution to gate infidelity (see Figure 6 in their paper). They show that, for sufficiently large qubit coherence times T1 and T2, gate infidelities as small as 0.085% at a PSD of -147 dBm/Hz are to be expected. As shown in the figure on the left, this is exactly what the Zurich Instruments HDAWG offers at an output range of ±2.5 V.

Read the full post by Jan Benhelm

Interview: Prof. Jérôme Faist, ETH Zurich

Jérôme Faist, leading the Quantum Electronics chair at ETH Zurich and well known for his central role in the invention of the quantum cascade laser.
Hello Jérôme, can you tell us about the current work of your group?

At my chair for Quantum Electronics at the ETH in Zurich, we work mainly in two fields: Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) as direct sources in the THz-range and in the middle infrared. At the moment we focus on frequency combs based on QCLs which are the ideal source for spectroscopic applications. At the same time, we push the technology to work at room temperature.
We are also working on meta-materials which are the ideal tools to influence light-matter coupling and look into fundamental questions of quasiparticles and ultra-strong coupling.

Two of your recent papers reported on vacuum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. What is the importance of understanding them in detail?

Vacuum field fluctuations are one of the most fundamental implications of quantum mechanics and a direct consequence of the uncertainty principle. Even in a pure vacuum there are finite fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. Although tiny, they manifest themselves in numerous effects, for instance triggering spontaneous emission of excited states in fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs. Investigating the fundamental characteristics of vacuum field fluctuations helps to understand those effects more in detail.

And what did you discover?

In “Electric field correlation measurements on the electromagnetic vacuum state” we observed the correlation of vacuum field fluctuations in different space-time volume depending on their separation in space and time. The result is the direct confirmation of the description of vacuum fluctuations as electromagnetic waves in quantum-theory. In “Magneto-transport controlled by Landau polariton states” we put a cavity around a Hall-bar and observed the direct current conductivity dependent on an external magnetic field and presence of the finite vacuum field and very weak terahertz illumination.

How is this different from conventional transport measurements?

For normal magneto-transport measurements, there is no cavity, only a Hall-bar. Illumination with electromagnetic fields does not have any effect on the conductivity. But when we couple the light-field with the cavity we can control the magneto-transport by illuminating the circuit with light.

So you put together tools from transport measurements and optics. How did you come up with this original idea?

You know, after my Ph.D. at EPFL, I went for a Postdoc to IBM in Rüschlikon where I learned about the transport applications. Because of my experience in both fields, I was hired by Federico Capasso at Bell Labs, where I worked on the QCL which has those two aspects as well - it was natural to put those fields together at some point.

And how did our MFLI help to perform the measurements?

With the current and the voltage inputs, the MFLI is ideally suited for transport measurements. We even use multiple of them at different sections of the same Hall-bar and read them out synchronously.

Does the effect have some practical application or is it only of academic interest?

In the first place, it is fundamental research but you can imagine the effect being used for ultrasensitive THz detectors. For me, fundamental research is always a driver for new and modern technologies.

Is this why you funded several companies?

I feel half a physicist and half an engineer. If only one half of me is involved, I am not happy. Even doing very fundamental research I always have in mind what can come out for practical applications. Helping start companies such as Alpes Lasers, IR Sweep, and Miro Analytical Technologies was a great possibility to bring technology from the lab into real applications.

And are you still involved in the companies?

Twenty years ago I was much more involved in Alpes Lasers compared to the start of the two others. But Alpes is now a mature company and does need me much less. And in IR Sweep and Miro Analytical, young people are driving the company and the business.

Blog post: Synchronization of multiple MFLI Lock-in Amplifiers by MDS

Does your application require synchronized data acquisition from more channels than a single instrument provides?

Zurich Instruments offers the Multi-Device Synchronization (MDS) tool to provide synchronized multi-channel signal generation and detection for all its products. In his blog, Mehdi Alem shares how to convert four single-channel MFLI Lock-in Amplifiers into a 4-channel instrument with which he measures the response of a 4-port network in a single shot.

Read the full post by Mehdi Alem

Blog post: Resonance enhancement: a tale of two data analysis methods

In this blog, Romain Stomp explains how to lift your measurements well above the noise floor by using resonance enhancement techniques and, depending on your bandwidth requirements, use either fast data crunching methods in the frequency domain or fast data streaming methods in the time-domain. The choice is yours!

Read the full post by Romain Stomp

Blog post: Automated 2D impedance sweep on the MFIA

In his blog, Meng Li demonstrates how the MFIA Impedance Analyzer can be easily configured to sweep in 2 parameter dimensions using a script written in the Python language (using one of the five APIs included with LabOne). Since many devices (e.g. batteries and fuel cells) and materials (e.g. semiconductors) exhibit a non-linear I-V response, it can be essential to study their impedance with respect to both frequency and DC bias voltage. Using a red LED as a test sample, this blog presents a script to generate a 2D impedance map with a single mouse-click. The LabOne command logging tool provides users with a straightforward approach to automating the whole 2D impedance measurement process and it helps to reduce the manual effort required, particularly in low-frequency measurements.

Read the full post by Meng Li

Blog post: What is the basic accuracy of an impedance analyzer?

In this impedance blog, Tim Ashworth explains the nuances around the term “basic accuracy” commonly employed by users and manufacturers of impedance analyzers. The overall accuracy of an impedance analyzer is a critical parameter that allows the user to know how close the measured impedance will be to the true impedance of the device or sample under test. However, since the accuracy of an impedance analyzer varies with both frequency and impedance, a parameter called basic accuracy is used to specify the highest accuracy possible with the instrument. This term gives the user realistic expectations of impedance measurement accuracy and also enables a comparison of different instruments.

Read the full post by Tim Ashworth

Winners of the Student Travel Grant 2019

We want to thank all applicants who submitted their entries for the 2019 call! As in previous years we received papers covering a wide range of applications and research topics. We use a two-step process to select the winners, first selecting outstanding research papers from the submissions, then using a random number generator to choose the three winners from the list.

The three lucky winners who can start packing their luggage to attend one of the scientific conferences in 2020 are:

We are grateful for all the submissions. Your feedback helps us connect more closely with young researchers in our user community and also gives us greater insight into the wide range of applications for our products. Congratulations to the winners and don't forget - the call will be open again in 2020!

Miao-Hsuan, Matus, Jinwoong, can you tell us a little about how you first learned about Zurich Instruments? How did the Zurich Instruments device help you with your work? And what did you like about the instruments?

Miao-Hsuan Chien
Miao-Hsuan: "My supervisor first introduced Zurich Instruments’ lock-in amplifier to our student group, since it is widely used in the MEMS/NEMS (Micro/Nanoelectromechanical system) community. For my study, I particularly used the phase lock loop (PLL) of the HF2LI to track the shift of mechanical resonance frequency during measurements. What I liked the most about the device was the ability to measure the frequency shift caused by the absorption of molecules on my mechanical sensor in a 10-100 MHz regime within 100 milliseconds. The HF2LI Lock-in Amplifier made it possible thanks to the PLL feature. The LabOne user interface and data retrieval are also quite straightforward."
Matus Diveky
Matus: "In our lab we use the MFLI Lock-in Amplifier for our sensitive single-particle photoacoustic measurements. Among the best assets of the lock-in amplifier from Zurich Instruments are its diverse functionalities, outstanding user interface and superior sensitivity, not to mention perfect customer service! With this instrument, we can conduct simultaneous absorption and scattering measurements thanks to the MFLI’s ability to demodulate multiple signals and we can easily find a resonant frequency of our tuning fork using the handy sweeper functionality."
Jinwoong Cha
Jinwoong: "In our group, we have a UHFLI to characterize acoustic metamaterials operating at higher frequencies than the bandwidth of the HF2LI (50 MHz) that our group already had. For my PhD thesis, I studied linear and nonlinear dynamics of nanoelectromechanical lattices and used the UHFLI to measure the motions of nanoscale mechanical resonators moving at tens of MHz. One of the best features of the products from Zurich Instruments is the user-friendly interface via the LabOne software, obviously. But what I liked the most is the multifunctionality which enables us to harness various functions like AWG, PLL, PID, etc., in a single instrument without purchasing separate products."

We are growing & hiring

We are very excited to welcome our new colleagues to Zurich Instruments!

They join many new colleagues that have started in 2019 in our growing offices in Zurich, Shanghai and Boston and will be supporting us in our efforts in quantum technology, as well as other application areas.

Do you want to take part in this adventure? Do you want to work for an innovative company that is growing steadily at a double-digit rate? Then join our dynamic team and break new ground in high-end scientific instrumentation created for scientists and engineers in leading labs around the world. Be at the cutting edge of technology - we have exciting open positions in R&D, marketing and operations, offering career opportunities that grow along with you.

Check our open positions

Recent publications using the UHFLI and HF2LI lock-in amplifiers


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