Network Analyzers are used to measure network parameters of electrical networks. The purpose of a network analyzer is to characterize radio frequency (RF) devices. Originally, network analyzers only measured S-parameters, but they have become extremely progressive to stay in front of the devices they are testing.
Due to voltages and currents being challenging to measure directly at high frequencies, the components need to be characterized by their response to RF signals. Network analyzers send known signals into a device and take ratioed measurements between the input and output signals to characterize these components.
There are two types of network analyzers; scalar network analyzers and vector network analyzers (VNA). Scalar network analyzers measure return loss, standing wave ratio, gain, and other magnitude-based measurements. Vector network analyzers measure both magnitude and phase. Currently, most network analyzers are vector network analyzers as they are highly versatile and can define S-parameters, match complex impedances, make time-domain measures, and more. Where power meters, spectrum analyzers, or oscilloscopes usually only have a receiver to measure signals emitted by the device under test (DUT), VNAs have both a source and a set of receivers to determine changes to the stimulus caused by the DUT. This stimulus-based approach from VNAs allows for more accurate characterization of the RF components through the measurement of small reflections and changes to the stimulus.
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