A low-cost embedded network analyzer for the measurement of material properties.
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Herrera, Brandon J., 1986-
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Many industrial processes involve the production of complex composite mixtures of multiple constituents that must be combined according to carefully controlled ratios. Inaccuracies in the control of the production processes can lead to out-of-specification mixtures with large variation in quality and properties and possibly an unusable end product. There is a persistent need for a measurement methodology and corresponding practical implementation that is sensitive to the changing constituent ratios having high accuracy and precision that can be used to provide the feedback information required for robust process control. However, the ratios of the individual components in some mixtures can be difficult to measure non-destructively with good accuracy and precision in a real-time, in-line industrial environment. Electromagnetic sensors that provide interrogation of the mixtures over the microwave frequency range have been put forward as a technology class that can meet the in-situ instrumentation requirements for a broad class of scientific and industrial applications. Vector Network Analyzers conveniently make these types of measurements in the scientific laboratory, but their costs are economically prohibitive for industrial applications. To lower instrument costs to a viable price point, a time domain system called a Pulse Dispersion Network Analyzer has been developed for embedded industrial process control of material properties. Several industrial applications are also presented.