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Sensitive Measurement Considerations

Technical considerations for sensitive measurement support your measurement confidence

To make fully use of sensitive measurement instruments, it is essential to understand basic measurement theories and precautions. Useful and practical technical information dedicated to sensitive measurements are available from following table of contents, which help you perform more effective measurements in addition to the Keysight B2980A series’ superior capabilities.




The Keysight B2980A series consists of graphical picoammeters and electrometers that can measure very low level current. However, sensitive electronic measurements using such instruments require carefully set up cabling and well controlled measurement environment. For example, guarding is one of the important techniques to avoid external noise or undesirable leakage current from the measurement setup. In addition, understanding the mechanical effect of cables is also important to achieve stable and accurate measurements.

The following topics describe such measurement considerations needed for low-level current measurements and fundamentals of voltage and charge measurement.

Low-level current measurement using B2980A series

1. Basics of low-level current measurement

1.1 Low-level current measurement
1.2 High resistance measurement
1.3 Noise in sensitive measurement
1.4 Influence of capacitance
1.5 Guarding
1.6 Considerations for more confident measurements

2. Connecting DUT (Device Under Test)

2.1 Insulator
2.2 External noise
2.3 Mechanical noise from cable
2.4 How to upgrade the measurement setup

3. Measurement considerations

3.1 Settling time and integration time
3.2 Effect of offset
3.3 Influence from environment
3.4 Measurement examples

Voltage measurement

1. Basics of voltage measurement

1.1 Various voltmeters and voltage measurements
1.2 What is the input resistance of a voltmeter?

2. Voltage measurement error and its countermeasure

2.1 Voltage measurement error which is caused by the finite input resistance of a voltmeter
2.2 The error caused by the insulation resistance of connection cables
2.3 Method of securing high input resistance using triaxial cable
2.4 The measurement error caused by the input bias current of a voltmeter
2.5 Settling time changes by the output resistance of the voltage source
2.6 Settling improvement by use of guard

3. Dealing of outside noise 

3.1 Penetration of outside noise
3.2 Shield with coaxial cable
3.3 Effect of averaging

4. Voltage measurement using B2985A/B2987A 

4.1 Connection method 
4.2 Setting of averaging

Charge measurement

1. Electric charge measurement

1.1 Measuring the electric charge
1.2 Electric charge measurement technique 

2. Integral type quantity of electric charge meter

2.1 Principle of measurement
2.2 Factors of error margin and noise
2.3 Application to other usages
2.4 Quantity of electric charge meter of B2985A/87A

3. Measurement

3.1 Notes for measurement