Scientific and Academic Research, High-Performance A/D Systems (RADAR, Mas Spectrometry, etc.)
Instrument performance and flexibility are the most important features in science applications such as high-energy physics. Most of the signal processing and control tasks for these applications traditionally used analog electronics and relatively slow ADCs to capture preconditioned signals. Today, with fast high-resolution ADCs (14 bit and 250 MS/s and above) you can sample signals directly from sensors. Using instruments with user-programmable FPGAs, you can perform signal processing in real time during acquisition instead of in postprocessing on a PC. You get faster results and more flexible, efficient control in scientific experiments.
Efficient Real-Time Feedback With Inline Processing
Many science experiments rely on control systems that keep the setup in a well-defined state. For example, in fusion research systems like the DIII-D tokamak, the plasma is heated with RF power, which requires you to measure complex RF reflection coefficients and derive appropriate control parameters from the measurements.
Learn more about fast RF power diagnostics using FlexRIO and a user-programmable FPGA.
In particle accelerators and synchrotron machines, you have to monitor particle beams’ trajectories constantly to keep them on track with magnets that require the correct control input. Oscilloscopes with user-programmable FPGAs can help to solve applications like the DIII-D tokamak, because their fast and inherent parallel processing allows analysis of a signal and frequency domain at the same time, as well as very fast control loops. You can customize the FPGA to also monitor safety critical parameters to trigger a shutdown in case the system enters an unwanted state.
Using the high-speed PXI Express bus, you can pair oscilloscopes with output modules that generate control signals for experiments or stream data continuously to a storage medium at speeds of more than 3 GB/s per instrument. Another benefit of user-programmable FPGAs is you can change the explained processing and control algorithm very quickly. You can load an already compiled bit stream into the FPGA in fractions of a second to alter the oscilloscope’s behavior.
Faster Discoveries With Real-Time Event Detection and Data Reduction
It is often challenging to identify events of interest. Typically, you can look for events during post-processing after the actual data acquisition is complete, but this method takes more time and requires you to store large amounts of data.
For a more efficient way, reduce data to a minimum by deciding right at acquisition time which signals to keep and which to discard. Often the only parameters of interest are timestamps and calculated energy pulses, so returning these parameters from an instrument is more efficient storage-wise and enables longer measurements because the already extracted results can be easily offloaded to the host PC.
For example, time-of-flight applications chart particles and energies over time. In the Figure 4 diagram, faster particles are shown on the left (short flight times) and slower particles on the right.
Figure 5. The PXIe-5170 and PXIe-5171 are ideal for applications that include time-of-flight calculations or real-time pulse processing to collect required data.
The measurement system’s tasks are to extract, time stamp, and measure the energy pulses and eliminate the time (acquired data) without pulses in between, often called zero-suppression. This is easy to implement in an FPGA because every sample can be evaluated in real time. The general architecture for detecting events as shown in Figure 4 would be a pulse—such as a threshold—detector, followed by algorithms that fit a reference pulse—such as a Gaussian shape—on the detected pulse for estimating the maximum value. After detecting and storing the peak and the corresponding timestamp, you can either discard the acquired pulse or send it to another buffer for further analysis or display on the PC.
Learn how testing telescope pixel detectors benefits from real-time event detection and data reduction using LabVIEW FPGA.
LabVIEW FPGA provides users with the tools to implement the necessary signal processing steps on oscilloscopes to filter and shape pulses, count and time stamp their occurrences, measure height and rise time, reconstruct baselines directly inside the instrument, and return the compressed results to a PC to make researchers more efficient in their work.
Aerospace and Defense Test
The lifespan of many aerospace and defense testers can reach 40 years and beyond. The challenges of replacing an obsolete instrument and recertifying a tester can be extremely costly. The reconfigurable nature of the PXIe-517x oscilloscopes makes them a good choice for new designs as well as drop-in replacements for obsolete instruments. Because many specifications or characteristics, such as triggers or filters, need to stay consistent through the generations of testers, these oscilloscopes help to alleviate backward compatibility issues that may arise by allowing you to reuse the hardware IP created in LabVIEW, helping to reduce both certification and maintenance costs.
See where NI is making an impact in the aerospace and defense industries.
Testing the new semiconductor devices that are making modern wireless revolution possible requires high resolution, speed, and flexible instrument performance. The channel density, high resolution, superb spectral performance, and user-programmable FPGA of the PXIe-517x oscilloscopes make them ideal tools for making many of the fast analog measurements needed in semiconductor characterization and production test systems.
To learn more about NI's offering for semiconductor test, visit ni.com/semiconductor.