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What is an Impedance Analyzer?

Mal Baxter
Mal Baxter

An impedance analyzer is a computational device that measures opposition to current in alternating current (AC) systems. Impedance refers to how physical or chemical properties interact with current and voltage. In other words, impedance is how well a material or component passes current. This resulting ratio of voltage to current is measured in ohms (Ω). The equipment connects via input cables or uses a small handheld terminal probe for spot checking.

Non-destructive readings are often taken from electrical components such as resistors, capacitors, and inductors. Analyzers assist in testing electronic components for material and optical affects, conductances, and fault testing. Readouts can be indicated on a numerical meter or plotted as lines on a scaled graph.

A fixed resistor is used to reduce the flow of electricity.
A fixed resistor is used to reduce the flow of electricity.

Impedance analyzer equipment can operate in ranges anywhere from 20 hertz (Hz) up to the megahertz and very high frequency ranges. The devices can measure many additional parameters. This technology is capable of conducting analysis on video and audio circuits, radio frequency (RF), or matching networks. It performs duty on antennas and coaxial transmission lines. Impedance measurements provide value in analysis of components, networks, biochemical engineering processes, and more.

Often, an impedance analyzer generates an RF signal within a range specified by the user, and injects it via a probe. The resulting ohm measurements are sampled, measured, and analyzed. This complex impedance can be used to calculate additional factors, and formatted for rectangular or polar display. Fixed frequency mode measures one user-defined frequency, while other modes may permit sequential cycling through a frequency range. The equipment may be controlled via keypads or with computer and software processors.

This equipment is employed for many types of industrial analysis, research, and technology production. It tests radio transmission and assists in cable measurement and fault finding. Other impedance analyzer uses include high resolution electrical impedance spectroscopy, which opens up a world of applications in numerous high technology fields and biomedical and energy research. From hospitals to the garage electronics bench, these devices serve processes large and small.

Types of equipment vary. Features of an impedance analyzer may include stand-alone and computer-assisted operation, frequency and scan modes, and varying degrees of user-defined measurement criteria. Frequency ranges, screen and readout clarity, and the intuitive use of interface also factor in. Interfaces may be as simple as a home electronics appliance or involve numerous panels with dozens of switches. Accessories typically consist of terminal probes and printers, as well as various connecting cables and chargers.

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    • A fixed resistor is used to reduce the flow of electricity.
      By: Lefteris Papaulakis
      A fixed resistor is used to reduce the flow of electricity.