Customers seek optimum price points with instrument choices

Although engineers value flexibility and room to grow in their instruments, economic realities are dictating that they seek out optimum price points when purchasing new equipment. That's the conclusion of Jerry Janesch, market development manager for multi-application products at Keithley Instruments Inc., who has been examining customer requirements in the planning of product development at Keithley.

“Customers are buying just what they need today,” he said. “They're asking, 'Why should I pay for capabilities I won't use?'” Nevertheless, he said, they value instrument/system flexibility and want to be able to reuse, repurpose, and redeploy their test-and-measurement hardware and software. Further, Janesch said, customers want quick results—they want instruments that are easy to use and offer high throughput.

Janesch's observations have guided Keithley in its development of several products that it has introduced over the past two months. Those products include three SMUs (source-measure units) and a 5-1/2-digit dual-display DMM (digital multimeter), introduced in September and covered here, as well as two multi-channel DC programmable power supplies and and a dual-channel picoammeter/voltage source.

Efforts to achieve accuracy and versatility were behind Keithley's development efforts in designing the Series 2200 multichannel power supplies, Janesch said. The $950 Model 2220-30-1 supply provides two output channels, each capable of outputting up to 30 V at 1.5 A (45 W). The $1,150 Model 2230-30-1 provides the same two 45-W output channels, typically used for powering analog circuits, plus a 6-V at 5-A (30-W) output channel, typically used for powering digital circuits.

Janesch noted that the supplies feature an independent display for each channel, channels can be turned on and off independently, and the instrument offers remote-sense inputs on all channels. Further, all outputs are isolated, and channels can be connected in series or parallel, with the displays adapting to automatically display, for example, the correct voltage level for two channels connected in series.

In addition, Janesch said, Keithley has expanded its low-level-measurement product offerings by introducing the Model 6482 dual-channel picoammeter, which features dual ±30-V independent, non-floating bias sources and 1-fA measurement resolution. The $3,600 picoammeter's two independent picoammeter/source channels fit within a 2U half-rack enclosure, allowing simultaneous 6-1/2-digit measurements across both channels while conserving rack or bench space.

Janesch said the instrument supports ratio and delta measurements—displaying the proportional or difference relationships between two measurement channels, thereby making it easy for users to compare device outputs or the responses from multiple sensors or detectors simultaneously. In addition, Janesch said, the picoammeter can measure currents up to 20 mA while maintaining 1-fA resolution, thereby supporting applications involving dual diode testing, dark current measurements, ion beam monitoring, nanoscience, materials and semiconductor research, and electron microscopy.

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