R&S ZNA Vector Network Analyzer

The R&S ZNA Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) not only delivers new levels of RF performance, but also embodies a unique hardware concept that simplifies measurement configuration. Its excellent measurement stability and trace noise enable users to perform demanding measurements on active and passive components and modules. The instrument is the world’s first purely touch-operated vector network analyzer. Its innovative DUT-centric approach reduces configuration times to a minimum.

Three major industry trends underpin this new generation of Rohde & Schwarz high end vector network analyzer – technical issues, commercial pressures and human factors.

Technology trends focus on the need to characterize ever-more complex designs with higher levels of integration. Further, radio technologies such as 5G wireless demand more bandwidth and better use of the RF spectrum. All this means that test instruments demand greater accuracy and dynamic range.

Commercial pressures mean that, whilst technology leads to more complex products, the time cycle to develop new products gets shorter. These pressures bear directly on the ‘human factor’ the test engineer, who has to execute more demanding measurement tasks more quickly with less time to become familiar with new test instrumentation. Traditional buttons and knobs are not the ideal user interface for today’s test engineers, who are more used to the touch interface found on tablets and smart phones.

Measurement capability
The new R&S ZNA high-end vector network analyzer is a powerful, universal test platform for characterizing active and passive DUTs. The two models R&S ZNA26 (10 MHz to 26.5 GHz) and R&S ZNA43 (10 MHz to 43.5 GHz) offer an outstanding dynamic range of up to 170 dB (typ. With options) and a trace noise as low as 0.001 dB at 1 kHz IF bandwidth. These two features are essential for measurements on high-rejection filters.

With its unique hardware concept, the R&S ZNA can perform mixer measurements for RF and IF in parallel, delivering measurement speed twice as fast as with the conventional approach. Amplifier characterization becomes easy with a 100dB power sweep range, a pulse generator and modulator per test port, versatile intermodulation measurement capabilities and spectrum analyzer functionality.

Reducing complexity and measurement time
Across this broad range of markets and applications, the R&S ZNA enables simpler and quicker measurements through its unique hardware concept. The VNA has four internal, phase-coherent sources, eight truly parallel receivers and two internal local oscillators (LOs). This simplifies the test setups for characterizing frequency-converting devices, amplifiers and even complex T/R modules, requiring the DUT to be connected only once. Analysis by Rohde & Schwarz demonstrates that users can perform vector corrected conversion loss, phase and group delay measurements in half the time required with the conventional approach. Additionally, there is no need to use a reference mixer.

Moreover, an additional LO output option is available at the rear panel, providing a configurable RF source up to 26.5GHz. Hence with up to five internal sources the R&S ZNA enables simple and compact test setups for two-port or four-port mmWave measurements, using mmWave converters such as R&S ZCxxx devices, with no additional external hardware required. The R&S ZNA thus responds to increasing demand for testing at mmWave frequencies in commercial applications such as wireless backhaul, 5G cellular and automotive radar, delivering a convenient and cost-effective solution.

In addition, a switchable internal combiner provides a two-tone signal at the front-panel Port 1. This allows intermodulation measurements, and group-delay measurements on embedded LO converters, to be accomplished easily with no additional external hardware required.

Improving the user experience
The R&S ZNA offers a unique approach, focused on the DUT, to simplify measurement configuration. Users first select the type of DUT (e.g. mixer or amplifier) and are then guided step by step through configuration to the desired test setup. This solution significantly speeds up and facilitates test setups supporting the complex measurement tasks of the test engineers.

Alternatively, users can take the conventional approach and configure measurements individually, providing high flexibility to master even the most challenging measurement tasks.

A further innovation in development of the R&S ZNA is the use of a modern touch interface that replaces the conventional hard-key panel. As the world’s first purely touch-operated vector network analyzer, the R&S ZNA uses a 12.1″ touchscreen as the main display and a 7″ touchscreen instead of a hard-key panel. Together with the DUT-centric approach, the second touchscreen provides a seamless user experience.

Versatile applications
Across the aerospace and defence sector, the analyzer is suited not only to active and passive components, but also transmitter/receiver modules, converter and satellite subsystems. It can be used in antenna measurement systems, as well as for antenna characterization.

The ever-expanding range of wireless comms applications range from mmWave measurements in 5G systems, through base transceiver station and MIMO antenna analysis, to characterisation of components in mobile devices.

Automotive market applications include testing mmWave systems for automotive radar, and Antenna T&M in full vehicle test chambers.

The R&S ZNA is also widely applicable throughout manufacturing, research and education industries. Examples include manufacturing of active and passive components, semiconductor and on-wafer measurements.

Additional models covering higher frequencies and further integration to address new measurement applications are planned for the future.

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