What is a Source Measure Unit?

A Source Measure Unit (SMU) precisely sources and simultaneously measures voltage and/or current.

Most well-established test applications include IV characterizing plus testing semiconductors and non-linear devices and materials. These applications perform voltage sweep and/or current sweeps across any of the 4-quadrant operating regions (positive and negative DC/pulsed source or sink and measurement) of an SMU. They typically involve high accuracy and high resolution, in addition to highly synchronized sourcing and measurement requirements.

An application that requires the integration of individual power supply, digital multimeter (DMM), current source, and/or electronic load will find using an SMU saves setup time, saves software development time, saves rack and bench space, increases throughput and achieve reliable and repeatable results 5 ½ and 6 ½ digits of resolution over a wide selection of power envelopes.

SMUs are gaining popularity in new technology research, development and manufacturing, such as:

  • nano-scale devices and materials, carbon nanotube structures, graphene
  • organic semiconductors
  • printed electronics
  • small-geometry low-power devices
  • high power materials, silicon carbide (SiC), gallium nitride (GaN) devices, power MOSFETs,
  • high brightness LEDs, solid state lighting systems
  • optoelectronics, laser diode test systems
  • battery charging and discharging characterization
  • power management ICs
  • circuit protection modules
  • solar cells and panels
  • DC-DC converters

Capabilities delivered in this single, bench-sized form factor:

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Source Measure Unit LITERATURE   |   Product Demos   |   Webinars

Title Product Series or Application Level

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6 Common DC Tests to Maximize Productivity Tips for More Efficient DC I-V Characterization

A high level overview of 6 common tests using Keithley bench source measure unit, dmm and power supply and tips to maximize Keithley instruments’ capabilities.

Touch Interface

Beginner

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Semiconductor Device Test Applications Guide (Series 2600A System SourceMeter® Instruments)

A comprehensive guide to semiconductor device characterization and testing, including Diode, BJT and FET.

Semiconductor Device

Intermediate

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FOUR KEY TESTS: Validating MOSFET Performance in Power Supply Designs

Learn the basics of 4 common MOSFET tests: drain family of curves, threshold voltage, gate leakage and transconductance.

MOSFET

Intermediate

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Simplifying FET Testing with Series 2600B System SourceMeter® SMU Instruments

This application note explains how to simplify I-V measurements on FETs using a Series 2600B System SourceMeter SMU with the TSP® Express embedded software tool that utilizes two-channels to source and measure over a wide range of voltage and current.

FET
MOSFET
MESFET JFET
OFET GNRFET CNTFET

Intermediate

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Diode Production Testing with Series 2600 System SourceMeter Instruments

Performing single-point pass/fail diode DC parametric tests, the Forward Voltage Test (VF), Breakdown Voltage Test (VR), and Leakage Current Test (IR), during the final inspection process.

Diode Discrete, Passive Component, Resistor, Diode, Zener diode, LED, Sensor, Small Signal Bipolar Junction Transistor (BJT), Field Effective Transistor (FET)

Intermediate

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IDDQ Testing and Standby Current Testing with Series 2600 System SourceMeter® Instruments

Manufacturers of CMOS integrated circuits and battery-powered electronic products need to measure the quiescent (standby)current, known as the leakage currents or IDDQ testing to check for shorted gate oxide and other IC defects that may cause a failure over time.

Standby Current

Intermediate

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High Speed Testing of High Brightness LEDs

This application note provides basic electrical characterization tests information and how to achieve throughput advantages and reduce the cost of test by using Keithley’s Test Script Processor (TSP®). A Keithley SourceMeter® instrument is ideal for these types of tests because it can be configured to source voltage or current and measure current or voltage on a limited sample of points to prove merit.

Energy Efficiency, Lighting, LED, AMOLED, Photovoltaics, Solar Cells, Batteries

Intermediate

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DC Production Testing of OLED Displays

This application note details several cost-effective systems for DC testing of passive matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) displays that provide the accuracy and high volume throughput. Several electrical specifications important to the performance of OLEDs and OLED displays are discussed:

  • Reverse bias leakage current
  • Swept forward and reverse bias I-V characteristics
  • Short and open testing of display pixels

OLED

Intermediate

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Pulse Testing High Brightness LEDs Accurately Using the 2461 High Current SourceMeter® SMU Instrument

Due to the high operating power of these HBLED, the semiconductor junction of the LED will tend to heat during testing These effects can impact the accuracy of the test and potentially damage the device under test. This application note provides information how to apply pulse testing to minimize self-heating and damage to HBLEDs.

HBLED

Intermediate

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Learn How to Overcome the Electrical Measurement Challenges of High Brightness LED

A comprehensive guide to understand the electrical measurement challenges of high brightness LED including:

  • The effects of self-heating in LEDs and how to avoid it
  • How to relate forward voltage to junction temperature
  • The effects of noise in forward voltage measurement
  • The testing differences between DC and AC LEDs

HBLED

Advanced

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Simplify Your Solar Cell Testing with Keithley’s Precision Measurement Solutions

An overview of Keithley’s solutions for solar cell I-V and C-V characterization that provide the most accurate measurements available without the hassles of integrating separate instruments or writing complicated programs.

Solar

Beginner

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Measuring Photovoltaic Cell I-V Characteristics with the Model 2420 SourceMeter Instrument

PV cell characterization measures the cell’s electrical performance to determine conversion efficiency and critical equivalent circuit parameters. This application note describes how to use the Keithley Model 2420 High Current SourceMeter® instrument to measure the current-voltage (I-V) characteristics of PV cells.

Photovoltaic Cell, Solar Cell

Intermediate

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High Throughput DC Production Testing of Laser Diode Modules and VCSELs with the Model 2602B System SourceMeter® Instrument

A typical LD module consists of a laser diode and a back facet monitor photodiode. Temperature-controlled LD modules also include a thermoelectric controller (TEC) and a thermistor to facilitate precise regulation of the LD’s operating temperature. This application note details a few cost-effective DC test systems that provide the high throughput required in LD module production test.

Laser Diode

Intermediate

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Production Testing of Thermistors Using the Model 2400 SourceMeter® Instrument

Thermistors are devices that exhibit a change in resistance with a change in temperature. Thermistors have many applications, including temperature sensors, resettable fuses, power indicators, and current limiters. This application note describes how to configure a thermistor production test system using the Model 2400 SourceMeter instrument.

Thermistor

Intermediate

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Production Testing of High Current Varistors with the Model 2430-C 1kW Pulse SourceMeter® Instrument

Varistors provide fast, energy absorbing, transient and over-voltage protection to a load placed across them. Multi-Layer Varistors (MLVs) typically have low clamping voltages and are popular protection devices for portable, battery-operated electronics due to their small size and surface-mountability. This application note describes how to use a Model 2430-C to perform production tests with its tight integration of source and measurement capabilities in a half-rack instrument footprint.

Varistor

Intermediate

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Leakage Current and Insulation Resistance Measurements Using the Model 2450 SourceMeter® SMU Instrument

This application note provides two examples that demonstrate how to use the Model 2450 to perform leakage current measurements on a capacitor and how to measure insulation resistance between the two conductors of a coaxial cable

Insulator

Intermediate

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Solutions for Production Testing of Connectors

Isolation and continuity are the two most commonly measured parameters in connector testing. This application note addresses many of the issues involved in implementing a connector characterization system.

Connector

Intermediate

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Simplifying DC-DC Converter Characterization with a Series 2600B System SourceMeter® SMU Instrument and a MSO/DPO-5000 or DPO-7000 Series Scope

This application note explains DC-DC converter testing including line regulation, load regulation, input and output voltage accuracy, quiescent current, efficiency, turn-on time, ripple, and transient response, using a Keithley two-channel Series 2600B System SourceMeter SMU Instrument and a Tektronix MSO/DPO-5000 or DPO-7000 Series Oscilloscope. The DPOPWR Application Software developed for these scopes supports measurement and analysis of common power management device parameters.

DC-DC Converter

Intermediate

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Battery Discharge/Charge Cycling Using Keithley Series 2400 SourceMeter® Instruments

Rechargeable (secondary) batteries are commonly tested using discharge-and-charge cycling which gives important indications of the battery’s capacity and life. This application note describes discharge and charge methods, discharging using pulsed current, and testing multiple batteries using Keithley Series 2400 SourceMeter instruments to reduce the amount of rack space and minimizes programming time.

Battery Charge and Discharge Profile

Intermediate

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DC Electrical Characterization of RF Power Amplifiers

This note provides an overview of techniques that can be used to characterize RF power amplifiers for DC parameters such as the various junction breakdown voltages, junction leakage current, DC beta (hfe), junction resistance, etc.

RF Power Amps
RF Chips
RF Modules
MESFET
HBT, LDMOS

Intermediate

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Understanding Test Methods for Automobile Control and Communications Systems

This applications kit addresses control and communication systems testing challenges including:

  • DC characterization and production testing of sensors
  • Testing MEMS Accelerometers for cruise control and stability control systems
  • Testing Engine Control Units (ECUs)
  • Simulating sensor signals
  • Multipoint Measurements in automotive test applications
  • Solutions for testing automotive communication protocols (Buses)
  • Controlling Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

Automotive

Intermediate

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Understanding Power Testing Applications for Today’s Automobiles

This application kit discusses the challenges and solutions for characterizing and testing high power semiconductors used in automotive circuits and electrical power systems:

  • Testing high power semiconductor devices, components, and modules
  • Verifying battery, external charging and battery management performance
  • Simulating power sources in automotive test
  • Testing the drivetrain motor control system
  • Determining motor output performance

Automotive

Intermediate

  • Single-phase power and energy measurements
   

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Testing Power Semiconductor Devices with Keithley High Power System SourceMeter® SMU Instruments

This application note highlights commonly performed tests and the challenges associated with testing discrete power semiconductor components and how Keithley SMU instruments can simplify the process, especially when integrated into a Keithley Parametric Curve Tracer (PCT) configuration.

Power Semi, High Power Devices, Diode, MOSFET, BJT, IGBT, Thyristor (SCR, Triac)

Intermediate