High Accuracy Picoammeters for Low

High Accuracy Picoammeters for Low
www.keithley.com
High Accuracy Picoammeters
For Low Current/High Resistance Applications
A
G R E A T E R
M E A S U R E
O F
C O N F I D E N C E
Current Measurement Range
1A
1mA
1uA
1nA
1pA
1fA
6485
6487
Picoammeters
428
6514/6517A
Electrometers
6430
Series 2400 236/7/8
SMUs, SourceMeter® Instruments
Maximum Bandwidth
1MHz
100kH
• Economical, high precision solutions
for measuring low currents
• Lower voltage burden ensures greater
measurement accuracy
• Higher speed and resolution than any
other picoammeters available
10kHz
*
1kHz
*
*
100Hz
6485
6487
Picoammeters
428
6514/6517A
Electrometers
6430
Series 2400 236/7/8
SMUs, SourceMeter® Instruments
* No analog output; bandwidth
set by maximum reading rate
• Flexible resistance measurement options
Voltage Sourcing Capability
1kV
100V
10V
1V
NA
NA
100V
10mA
1mA
100uV
10uV
1uV
6485
6487
Picoammeters
428
6517A 6514
Electrometers
6430
Series 2400 236/7/8
SMUs, SourceMeter® Instruments
High performance picoammeters
Keithley brings more than half a century of expertise in
designing and manufacturing sensitive instrumentation
to our new low current measurement solutions. Our
picoammeters combine high accuracy with sensitivity
as good as 1fA. They have always provided exceptional
voltage burden specifications and wide measurement
ranges; our newest instruments offer higher
measurement speeds than ever before.
What is a picoammeter?
Measuring low DC currents often demands a lot
more than a digital multimeter can deliver. Generally,
DMMs lack the sensitivity required to measure currents
less than 100nA. Even at higher currents, a DMM’s
input voltage drop (voltage burden) of hundreds of
millivolts can make accurate current measurements
impossible. Electrometers can measure low currents
very accurately, but the circuitry needed to measure
extremely low currents, combined with functions like
voltage, resistance, and charge measurement, can
increase an electrometer’s cost significantly.
Keithley’s line of picoammeters combines the
economy and ease of use of a DMM with low current
sensitivity near that of an electrometer.
Why is low voltage
burden critical?
Voltage burden is the voltage that appears across the
ammeter input terminals when measuring. As Figure 1
illustrates, a DMM uses a shunt ammeter that requires
voltage (typically 200mV) to be developed across a
shunt resistor in order to measure current. This voltage
burden will reduce the actual current flowing in the
circuit, and reduce accuracy. A picoammeter uses a
feedback ammeter to reduce this terminal voltage by
several orders of magnitude (Figure 2).
Figure 1
DMM (shunt) ammeter
+
A/D
–
I
VBURDEN
= 200mV at
full scale
RSHUNT
Figure 2
Picoammeter ammeter
–
+
I
VOFFSET
CAL VOFFSET
A/D
Total voltage
burden<0.2mV
Models 6485/6487— exceptional low current
measurement performance
Flexible interface options
Our latest 51⁄2-digit picoammeters employ the latest current
measurement technology, but they’re much less expensive
than other instruments that perform similar functions, such as
optical power meters, competitive picoammeters, or user-designed
solutions. With eight ranges and high speed autoranging, the
Model 6485 can measure currents from 20fA to 20mA quickly. Its
superior sensitivity lets it characterize low current phenomena,
while its 20mA range is useful for measuring 4-20mA sensor loops.
The Model 6487 adds a built-in 500V source to all the capabilities
of the Model 6485, so it’s ideal for measuring high resistances or
applying a bias voltage to generate currents. The source also makes
the Model 6487 a more complete, flexible measurement solution.
These picoammeters are designed for easy connection to and
synchronization with other instruments and sources. For example,
each has a built-in Trigger Link interface that combines six
independent selectable trigger lines on a single connector for
simple, direct control over all instruments in a system. They also
include a CE-approved IEEE-488 interface for PC control via the
GPIB bus, as well as an RS-232 interface. A digital I/O interface in
the Model 6487 simplifies linking it to automated component
handling systems.
Low current measurements made easy
The feedback picoammeter design of these instruments reduces
voltage burden to <200µV on the lower measurement ranges, so
they can make current measurements with high accuracy, even in
circuits with very low source voltages.
A variety of features contribute to these instruments’ measurement
accuracy. Rear panel BNC inputs on the Model 6485 allow the use of
inexpensive, easy-to-use BNC cables. The Model 6485 provides 220V
overload protection on all ranges, while the Model 6487 is
protected to 500V, so they can withstand abusive overflows.
A REL function permits making relative readings with respect to a
baseline value; the LOG function displays the logarithm of the
absolute value of the measured current. Both instruments can be
digitally calibrated using the front panel controls or via the IEEE-488
bus. A scaled voltage analog output simplifies transmitting results
to devices like DMMs, data acquisition cards, oscilloscopes, or strip
chart recorders. For research on light-sensitive components, such
as measuring the dark currents of photodiodes, the front panel
display can be switched off to avoid introducing light that would
interfere with making accurate measurements.
Just like before, only better
Resistance measurement flexibility
With top speeds of 1000 readings per second, these are the
fastest picoammeters we’ve ever made. They offer ten times
greater resolution than earlier Keithley picoammeters on every
range, as well as an additional 20mA range. A time-stamped data
buffer provides minimum, maximum, and standard deviation
statistics on up to 2500 stored readings for the Model 6485 or
3000 readings for the Model 6487. Built-in emulation modes
simplify upgrading applications originally configured with our
older picoammeters.
The Model 6485 can calculate resistance by dividing an externally
sourced voltage value by the measured current. The Model 6487’s
voltage source lets it make direct resistance measurements from
50Ω to 5×1014Ω using the Source Voltage/ Measure Current
method. For more accurate measurements of devices with high
background current or high noise, the Model 6487 also allows
measuring resistance with the Alternating Voltage method, which
extends the range to 1016Ω.
Low voltage burden
at an affordable price
Powerful software options
To simplify integrating them into PC-based test systems, both picoammeters come with the ExceLINX™ add-in utility for
Microsoft® Excel. Within minutes of installing it on a PC, users can acquire data directly from the instrument, then use Excel’s
graphics, charting and analysis capabilities to turn that data into useful information with just a few mouse clicks. IVI-style
instrument drivers (VISA based) for use with Application Development Environments such as LabVIEW™, LabWindows™/CVI,
Visual Basic, C/C++, and TestPoint are also included. Numerous examples and an online help utility let programmers get their
applications “Up & Running” quickly.
Condensed Model 6485/6487 specifications
ACCURACY (1YR)1
±(%rdg + offset) 18-28ºC, 0-70% RH
TYPICAL RMS
NOISE2
TYPICAL ANALOG RISE TIME
(10% to 90%)3
RANGE
51⁄2-DIGIT
DEFAULT
RESOLUTION
6485
6487
6485
6487
6485
OFF
ON
2 nA
10 fA
0.4% + 400 fA
0.3% + 400 fA
20 fA
20 fA
8 ms
4 ms
80 ms
20 nA
100 fA
0.4% + 1 pA
0.2% + 1 pA
100 fA
100 fA
8 ms
4 ms
80 ms
200 nA
1 pA
0.2% + 10 pA
0.2% + 10 pA
1 pA
1 pA
500 µs
300 µs
1 ms
2 µA
10 pA
0.15% + 100 pA
0.15% + 100 pA
10 pA
1 pA
500 µs
3500 µs
1 ms
20 µA
100 pA
0.1% + 1 nA
0.1% + 1 nA
100 pA
100 pA
500 µs
110 µs
110 µs
200 µA
1 nA
0.1% + 10 nA
0.1% + 10 nA
1 nA
1 nA
500 µs
110 µs
110 µs
2 mA
10 nA
0.1% + 100 nA
0.1% + 100 nA
10 nA
10 nA
500 µs
110 µs
110 µs
20 mA
100 nA
0.1% + 1 µA
0.1% + 1 µA
100 nA
10 nA
500 µs
110 µs
110 µs
6487 WITH DAMPING4
INPUT VOLTAGE BURDEN: <200µV on all ranges except <1mV on 20mA range.
LANGUAGE EMULATION: 6485–Keithley Model 485 command emulation via DDC mode; 6487–Keithley Model
486/487 command emulation via DDC mode.
TEMPERATURE COEFFICIENT: 0°-18°C & 28°-50°C For each °C, add 0.1 x (% rdg + offset) to accuracy spec.
ANALOG OUTPUT: Scaled voltage output (inverting 2V full scale on all ranges) 6485–3% ±2mV, 1kΩ impedance,
6487–2.5% ±2mV.
NMRR1: (50 or 60Hz): 60 dB.
MAXIMUM CONTINUOUS INPUT VOLTAGE: 6485–220VDC, 6487–505VDC
1
4
At 1 PLC – limited to 60 rdgs/sec under this condition • 2 At 6 PLC – limited to 10 rdgs/sec under this condition • 3 Measured at analog output with resistive load >2kΩ.
Maximum rise time can be up to 25% greater.
High measurement accuracy
Model 6485 applications
Model 6487 applications
• Materials and components characterization
• Photodiode current measurements
• Dark current (photodiode leakage)
• Fiber alignment
• SEM beam current measurements
• Particle and beam monitoring
• Fluorometer and spectrometer measurements
• Circuit test and analysis
• Teaching labs
• Resistivity and leakage current measurements
• Insulation resistance measurements
• Device I-V characterization
• Photomultiplier current measurements
• Sensor characterization
Measuring picoamps at high speeds demands a special solution
Model 428 Current Amplifier
Model 428 applications include:
The Model 428 is designed to convert small currents into
voltages that can be displayed on a scope or waveform
analyzer. A feedback circuit design gives the Model 428 both
fast rise times and sub-picoamp noise. Rise times from 2µs to
300ms can be selected. The amplifier gain can be adjusted in
3
11
decade steps from 10 V/A to 10 V/A. Like Keithley’s other
picoammeters, the Model 428 has zero check and offset
functions to enhance the integrity of signals with voltage
offsets. Up to 5mA of current can be suppressed, which can
be useful for nulling out a residual or offset current present
at the Model 428’s input. A choice of three display
intensities–bright, dim, and off–makes it suitable for use in
light-sensitive environments.
• Biochemistry measurements, such as ion channel currents
through cell walls and membranes
• Beam position monitoring, such as in electron storage rings
and synchrotrons
• Surface science studies
– Amplifier for a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
– Observing secondary electron emission, as in X-ray
and beam line currents
• Laser and light measurements
– Amplifier for use with PMTs and photodiodes
– Analysis of fast photoconductive materials
– IR detector amplifier
• Transient phenomena
– Current DLTS studies
– Breakdown in devices and dielectrics
• Front-end amplifier/converter for oscilloscopes
or waveform digitizers
• Fiber alignment
Common picoammeter applications
Wafer-level photodiode testing
Transistor leakage current testing
Calibrated Light Source
Transistor
Under Test
Base is
open
...
Photodiode
Pads
Probe Needles
Probe Needles
VCEO
Model
6487
Wafer
pA
Testing bipolar transistors typically involves two leakage current
measurements: ICEO (collector-emitter with base open) and ICBO
(collector-base with emitter open). To measure the leakage
current, a voltage potential is placed across two terminals with
the third terminal open, and the resulting current is measured.
The Model 6487 is ideal for this application because of its
integrated voltage source. Its low voltage burden allows
measuring small leakage currents without degrading the
measurement. The instrument’s internal memory can store
results as the test runs, then the data can be recalled and plotted.
Monitoring and control of focused
ion beam currents
6485
Picoammeter
Ion
Detector
Ion Beam
I
In semiconductor fabrication, focused ion beam systems are often
used for nanometer-scale imaging, micromachining, and mapping.
Careful monitoring of the magnitude of the beam current with an ion
detector is critical. The ion detector generates a secondary current
that’s proportional to the current of the primary ion beam. When this
secondary current is measured, it can be used to control the intensity
of the primary beam. However, this secondary current is very low, often
just a few picoamps, so the instrumentation measuring it must provide
high measurement accuracy and repeatability, as well as sub-picoamp
resolution. The Model 6485’s wide measurement range and 51⁄2-digit
resolution make it ideal for this application. Signal connections to the
Model 6485 are made through the instrument’s BNC connector.
Vsource
Ammeter
6487 Picoammeter/Voltage Source
The Model 6487 Picoammeter can be paired with a calibrated
light source and a probing fixture to create a cost-effective
photodiode test system. Multiple Model 6487s can be connected
to the DUT’s probe pads to provide photocurrent readings or,
with the addition of a switch matrix, one or more picoammeters
can take current measurements from multiple pads. The Trigger
Link interface available on the Model 6487 simplifies
synchronizing these instruments, providing control over
photocurrent measurement from more than one picoammeter.
In the first step of the measurement process, performed in total
darkness, the Model 6487 produces a voltage sweep and
measures the resulting dark current. In the second step, a fixed
voltage bias is applied and the resulting photocurrent is
measured while the light level is increased in calibrated steps.
The same basic test configuration can be used for testing positive
intrinsic negative (PIN) and avalanche photodiodes (APDs).
High resistance measurements
6487 Picoammeter/
The Model 6487’s Picoammeter/
Metal Shield
Voltage Source
Voltage Source can be used to
R
measure high resistances
HI
(>1GΩ) in applications such as
insulation resistance testing.
The voltage source is placed in
Ammeter
series with the unknown
LO
resistance and the picoammeter.
HI
The voltage drop across the
picoammeter is negligible, so
essentially all the voltage
Vsource
appears across the unknown
resistance. The resulting current
LO
is measured by the picoammeter
and the resistance is calculated
using Ohm’s Law (R=V/I). To
prevent generated current due
to electrostatic interference, the unknown resistance is housed in a
shielded test fixture. For resistance measurements greater than 1TΩ,
the 6487 employs the alternating voltage method.
All the support you need
Informative reference materials
Service you can depend on
Visit our web site, www.keithley.com, to
access our reference library, including:
When you need help, contact us at www.keithley.com or call us at
1-888-KEITHLEY (534-8453). Whatever your application,
Keithley’s application engineers are ready to help you meet its
challenges, before and after the sale. You can rely on us to
suggest the most effective system configurations and to provide
prompt, reliable applications support once your system is set up.
Low Level Measurements
This informative handbook describes
theoretical and practical considerations
involved in the measurement of low
DC currents, high resistances, low
DC voltages, and low resistances.
The next time you’re faced with a challenging application, give
us a call. We’ll offer you a cost-effective solution that will help
you improve your product quality, throughput, and yield.
Application Notes
These helpful notes include practical, real-world answers to
many application questions related to low level measurements.
Lab Exercises
Keithley's suite of lab exercises is designed to help students
learn about making electrical and physical measurements
through hands-on experience. Many lab exercises are available
for free downloading from our website. For example:
• Energy Gap in a Semiconductor
• Digital Multimeter and Oscilloscope
• Linear Op Amp Circuits
• Step Response of Passive Circuits
• The Electric Field
• Field Effect Transistors
• Non-Linear Op Amp Circuits
• Frequency Domain Analysis of Signals
A greater measure of confidence
With more than a half-century of expertise in making
demanding low level measurements, Keithley offers its
customers a greater measure of testing confidence on the
production floor, in the QA lab, and in R&D. For more
information on how Keithley test solutions can help you keep
pace with changing technologies, call your local Keithley sales
engineer or visit our website.
Specifications are subject to change without notice.
All Keithley trademarks and trade names are the property of Keithley Instruments, Inc.
All other trademarks and trade names are the property of their respective companies.
A
G R E A T E R
M E A S U R E
O F
C O N F I D E N C E
Keithley Instruments, Inc.
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© Copyright 2003 Keithley Instruments, Inc.
Printed in U.S.A.
No. 2357
90312KOP
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