Metrology for ultrafast electronics and high-speed communications

Short Name: Ultrafast, Project Number: IND16
Increasing frequencies used by communications technologies: Enabling the efficient use of higher frequencies for communications

The steady increase in the operating frequency and data rates of communication systems is dependent upon signal processing electronics and test equipment that can measure at ever-faster speeds. This requires reliable ultrafast measurement equipment, such as sampling oscilloscopes and pulse generators, to characterise and validate ultrafast electronics and high-speed communications technologies during their development, production and implementation, as well as software tools to manage and assess the high volumes of data generated.


This project addressed key challenges in accurate ultrafast measurements: techniques for measuring continuous and pulsed high-frequency signals; management of data quality in very large volume data sets; investigating the properties of channels and antenna at potential new communications frequencies; and methods for calibrating vector signal generators and analysers. The project developed:

  • Waveform metrology for ultrafast detectors comprising a broadband voltage pulse standard with 500 MHz frequency spacing and frequency components exceeding 500 GHz, and an asynchronous electro-optic sampling technique to measure electrical pulse generators.
  • A software tool for uncertainty propagation that can be applied to large data sets. This enables uncertainty propagation between time and frequency domains and is available from the project website.
  • Tools and processes for propagation measurements and channel and antenna characterisation. Measurements from 50 GHz to 325 GHz were performed in various scenarios relevant for future THz communication systems and the feasibility of implementing a 300 GHz communication system was investigated.
  • Capabilities to measure digital signal properties, including a universal calibration method for vector signal analyzers and vector signal generators, and a simple software tool for demodulating basic digitally-modulated signals.

The project partners shared the new tools and techniques with other NMIs, manufacturers of measurement and test equipment, and commercial calibration laboratories to facilitate their adoption in the development of faster ICT technologies. The software packages are in use at a number of European companies, as well as NMIs worldwide. The partners also contributed to a new standard on the calculation of waveform parameter uncertainties (IEC TC 85, WG22), expected to be published in late 2016. The standard is applicable to all industries that generate, transmit, detect, receive, measure and/or analyse step- and impulse-like waveforms. 

  • EMRP Industry theme impact case studies
Project website
Characterization of a 300-GHz Transmission System for Digital Communications

Journal of Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves

Time-Domain Optoelectronic Vector Network Analysis on Coplanar Waveguides

IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques

Dynamic range improvement of THz spectroscopy

29th Conference on Precision Electromagnetic Measurements (CPEM 2014)

Effect of time-delay errors on THz spectroscopy dynamic range

2014 39th International Conference on Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz waves (IRMMW-THz)

Frequency, amplitude, and phase measurements of GHz and THz sources using unstabilized THz frequency combs

Proc. SPIE 8624, Terahertz, RF, Millimeter, and Submillimeter-Wave Technology and Applications VI

Traceable Measurement of Source and Receiver EVM Using a Real-Time Oscilloscope

IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement

Terahertz Frequency Combs

Journal of Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves

Realization of an ultra-broadband voltage pulse standard utilizing time-domain optoelectronic techniques

Proc. SPIE 8624, Terahertz, RF, Millimeter, and Submillimeter-Wave Technology and Applications VI

Towards Metrological Characterization of Vector Signal Analyzers

Proceedings of the European Microwave Conference

Metrologie v moderních komunikacních systémech

Proceedings of the 36th meeting of the Czech electrotechnical society, subgroup Microwave technique

Measurement of Channel and Propagation Properties at 300 GHz

Proceedings of the Conference on Precision Electromagnetic Measurements (CPEM)

Diffraction measurements at 60 GHz and 300 GHz for modeling of future THz communication systems

Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Infrared, Milimeter and Terahertz Waves (IRMMW-THz)

Traceable measurement of source and receiver EVM using a Real-Time Oscilloscope

2012 Conference on Precision Electromagnetic Measurements

Channel timebase errors for Digital Sampling Oscilloscopes

2012 Conference on Precision electromagnetic Measurements

Traceability of high-speed electrical waveforms at NIST, NPL,and PTB.

Conference on Precision Electromagnetic Measurements 2012

Waveform metrology for error vector magnitude measurements in a 300 GHz transmission system

Conference on Precision Electromagnetic Measurements (CPEM)

Other Participants
Agilent Technologies UK Limited (United Kingdom)