Development of a prototype differential probe for TDR measurements

LA Techniques Ltd

National Physical Laboratory
Round 3

The project will demonstrate the feasibility of designing and producing a low-cost differential test probe to characterise differential circuits using time domain reflectometry (TDR) in conjunction with LA Techniques’ existing vector network analyser (VNA).

The increase in use of very fast logic circuits (now common at multi GHz speeds) has led to an increase requirement for low cost and easy to use techniques to characterise differential microwave circuits.

Our aim is to develop a unique hand held, low cost probe to operate with our existing instrument to make measurements at up to 6GHz.

Multi gigabit logic circuits will be at the heart of all future telecommunication infrastructure for the UK (including 5G mobile and wireless networks) and will create enormous demand for cost effective tools for the measurement of their performance, both in production and during development.

The project will focus on determining the feasibility of producing a hand-held low-cost probe.

The key objectives will be to produce a working prototype, characterise it and develop a means of calibration compatible with LA Techniques’ existing vector network analyser.

The project is innovative as no such probe exists in the market today.

Existing techniques are cumbersome and expensive, either employing complex probing arrangements connected to multi-port vector network analysers or using real time low frequency time domain reflectometry resulting in low frequency (1 GHz or less) measurements.

Our vision is to produce a probe and VNA package unique in the market; offering a low cost and stunningly easy to use differential measurement capability to 6GHz.

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