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Electrical Characterization

Dielectric Properties Lab

Electrical characterization is performed using a variety of temperature chambers, LCR meters, impedance analyzers, pA meters, DMMs, charge converters, lock-in amplifiers, dynamic signal analyzers, voltage amplifiers, and sample fixturing for bulks, films, and leaded samples.

Many measurements are entirely automated with the GADD measurement program. GADD takes directions in the form of a short user generated script file (text file) and uses those directions to control the measurement hardware to collect data your way.

The accompanying VIZ graphing program allows data (sometimes multidimensional) from the GADD program to be interactively viewed, generally as a surface formed by any two of the measurement parameters (user selected) with any others held at fixed values (also user selected). The viewed graphs can be exported as .png files or the raw data can be saved (generally reduced to 1 or 2 dimensional data) in a text format readable by any graphing program.

Complex Impedance and DC current/resistance

Multiple system configurations exist to measure complex parameters like CD, RX, GB, and others at discrete or swept frequency ranges with or without temperature and/or large AC/DC voltages. Covered ranges include 1mHz to 10’s of MHz, <1V AC to 1kV AC, +/- 4kV DC, and -180°C to +750°C. Non complex measurements such as DC current and resistance can also be performed with or without temperature and/or large DC voltages. A variety of sample fixturing is available to accommodate parallel plate solid dielectrics, leaded components and thin films. Some sample fixtures are multi-position and hold up to eight specimens. The exact limitations of any measurement are defined by the combined choices of measurement equipment, sample fixturing, sample size, sample electrodes, and equipment configuration.

PE (polarization vs. electric field) and Strain

The PE system is intended to measure the polarization of materials induced by an electric field. The typical covered ranges are, frequency from 1mHz to 1kHz, charge from ~10pc to 100µc, and voltage from 0 to ± 30 kV. In many cases PE and stain data can be collected simultaneously using a lock-in amplifier and a special test fixture with a resolution better than 3 nm (depending on the measurement time) and a frequency "range" of .01 Hz to 10 Hz. In some cases the PE and strain measurements can be made over a temperature range of -100°C to +180°C.


AC and DC breakdown measurements can be performed at voltages up to 30kV. Test fixtures exist for electroded samples and unelectroded polymers. Some measurements can be made in air or insulating fluid with varying temperature.

Poling Samples

Equipment is available to perform corona and conventional poling. Available sample fixturing accommodates many bulks, polymers, and deposited films under varying temperatures and voltages. The maximum covered voltage and temperature ranges are 0 to 30 kV and -100°C to +400°C. The exact limitations that apply to this technique are defined by the combined choices of power supply, sample fixturing, sample size, sample electrodes, cabling, and equipment configuration.

Sample Requirements

Samples should be electroded/leaded and dimensioned. Appropriate sample size and geometry depend greatly on the desired measurement and available test fixturing. In general, samples that are 0.1” to 0.5” in diameter with a thickness < 0.25” fit conveniently into most bulk type fixtures.