Low power device characterisation analyser measures minute currents

March 31, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Keysight Technologies has disclosed an instrument it calls a new category of analyser for advanced device characterisation, and low-power device evaluation; the analyser, the company adds, allows engineers to visualise previously undetectable wideband, low-level current waveforms. It visualises a maximum of 200 MHz current waveforms with 14- or 16-bit dynamic range, monitors dynamic current from 10A down to 100 pA level, and permits quantitative evaluation of how low-power devices consume power

The first analyser enabling a minimum of 100-pA level dynamic current measurements with a maximum of 200 MHz bandwidth, 1 Gsample/sec sampling rate and 14- or 16-bit wide dynamic range. The Keysight CX3300 Series Device Current Waveform Analyser is a new category of instrument and is aimed at researchers working with high-speed transient current measurements during advanced device characterisation and engineers working to reduce power/current consumption in low-power devices.


Characterising advanced devices and evaluating low-power devices are challenging tasks; ones that require engineers to measure high-speed (over 1 MHz) and low-level dynamic current (below 1 μA). However, Keysight asserts, the existing methodology for this measurement is plagued by many issues – a large noise, voltage drop, limited dynamic range, bandwidth – and as a result, low-level dynamic current often goes undetected and unmeasured.


The CX3300 analyser overcomes this limitation by enabling the simultaneous measurement of wideband and low-level current waveforms. By providing a 14-bit or 16-bit wide dynamic measurement range, a single instrument can meet a wide range of measurement requirements without using multiple instruments. A graphical user interface on a WXGA 14.1-in. multi-touch display, and advanced measurement and analysis software, make previously difficult low-level current waveform measurements and analyses efficient and easier to make.


Using the CX3300, researchers can now measure transient current even if the pulse width is very narrow (less than 100 nsec). This capability is particularly beneficial for device engineers developing semiconductor or advanced memory devices, since it allows them to visualise previously unmeasurable waveforms. Current consumption waveforms can also be clearly captured at any point in time, whether the device is in its sleep/standby or active state. By being able to clearly see how a device consumes power, engineers are better able to quantitatively evaluate and reduce a device’s power /current consumption.

The analyser can also be used as a debugging tool, enabling deep-dive and accurate evaluation during R&D. Using the analyser,