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Measuring Oscilloscope Voltage Probe Performance

Steve Sandler (Managing Director, Picotest)

Location: Ballroom C

Date: Wednesday, January 29

Time: 2:50pm - 3:30pm

Track: 12. Applying Test & Measurement Methodology, 10. Power Integrity in Power Distribution Networks

Format: Technical Session

Pass Type: 2-Day Pass, All-Access Pass, Alumni All-Access Pass - Get your pass now!

Vault Recording: TBD

Audience Level: All

GaN has exceeded our limits of oscilloscope voltage measurements. Not because of the oscilloscope, but because of the probe transfer function limitations and because of the lack of de-embedding. An additional constraint is that most probes are designed and calibrated using a 50 Ohm signal generator. Unfortunately, I haven't met any 50 Ohm power supplies. Clearly a better method of measuring and calibrating oscilloscope probes, at GaN speeds, is needed.

In this session I'll provide two methods of accurately measuring oscilloscope probe response, one in time domain and one in frequency domain, using the oscilloscope as a high frequency Vector Network Analyzer (VNA).


Typical high voltage probes offer a less than flat frequency response, in part, because the probes are designed and calibrated using a 50 Ohm signal generator. This may be adequate for many lower frequency designs, but not for GaN.

This paper provides two different methods of determine the probe response. This data can be used in selecting an appropriate probe or to de-embed the probe data using post processing methods.

Intended Audience

No prerequisites, but it will be helpful to understand the basics of transfer functions, oscilloscope measurements and Vector Network Analyzer measurements.