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Keithley-2401Lower-Cost SourceMeter for Low Voltage Testing

06 October 2011 - Keithley Instruments announced a low-cost addition to its popular Series 2400 SourceMeter instrument family. The Model 2401 operates and is programmed in exactly the same way as the other Series 2400 family member units but within 1A/20V range boundaries.

Like all of Keithley's SMU (source measurement unit) instruments, the new Model 2401 SourceMeter instrument is optimized for high precision test applications such as current vs. voltage (I V) characterization of photovoltaic (solar) cells, high brightness LEDs (HBLEDs), low voltage materials, and semiconductor devices, as well as resistance measurements; however, it now provides these advanced source and measurement unit capabilities at 20V and 1A signal levels and at an unprecedented low price.

According to marketing manager Charles Cimino, "The Model 2401 is priced at $USD2995, making it the test and measurement industry's lowest cost standalone source measurement instrument with a complete set of measurement ranges, features, and programmable operating modes." He went on to note that it offers an economical alternative to test systems configured with separate programmable power supplies and digital multimeters or applications for which precision programmable power supplies lack sufficient accuracy, signal range, or resolution.

The Model 2401 operates and is programmed in exactly the same way as the other Series 2400 family member units within its 1A/20V range boundaries. Like the rest of this popular source measurement unit family, the Model 2401 integrates a highly stable DC power source with a true instrument-grade 5-1/2 or 6-1/2-digit multimeter in a single enclosure.

In operation, the Model 2401 can act as a voltage source, a current source, a voltmeter, an ammeter, and an ohmmeter, and provides four-quadrant bipolar and automatic source/sink operation. Referring to Keithley SMU convention, operating in I vs. V quadrants 1 or 3, it operates as a source, delivering power to a load. In quadrants 2 or 4, it operates as a sink, dissipating power internally from an external source such as a PV cell or other energy source.

Model 2401 Applications

The Model 2401's combination of low cost, tightly integrated sourcing and measurement and wide dynamic range makes it well suited for a variety of both benchtop and system applications with low voltage requirements and with limited test hardware budgets:

  • High brightness LED forward/reverse I-V and LIV (light-current-voltage) testing
  • Solar cell efficiency test (source and sink current)
  • Precision DC load characterization, replacing readback supplies or supply/DMM combinations, which typically provide insufficient accuracy (IDDQ testing)
  • Active/passive component test, voltage/current/resistance measurements
  • Battery operation validation for portable electronic devices
  • Characterizing implantable medical devices (pacemakers, etc.)
  • Characterizing low-leakage electronic device/circuits (forward/reverse, transistor gain/leakage)
  • Calibrating 3½- to 4½-digit data acquisition boards, meters, and DMMs

The U.S. list price of the Model 2401 SourceMeter instrument is $2,995, with sales beginning immediately.

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