Interview with Michael Howo from Maury Microwave

  • Michael Howo - President & CEO at Maury Microwave

everything RF recently interviewed Michael Howo, the President & CEO at Maury Microwave. Maury Microwave is a manufacturer of laboratory devices and system components, with an emphasis on device characterization and automated tuning systems. Previously Michael served as Executive Vice President for Maury leading Engineering, Operations, Administration and Sales. Prior to that, Michael served in a variety of roles including CFO and VP of Business and Product Development. Before Joining Maury in 2005, Michael was the CFO of Teridian Semiconductor Corporation and before that CFO at Airport Group International.

Q. Can you give us a brief history of Maury microwave?

Michael HowoMaury Microwave was founded in 1957 as Maury & Associates by Mario A. Maury Sr, Mario A Maury Jr and Marc Maury.  Maury & Associates was a family business; father and sons working out of a single room with minimal startup capital.  Maury would achieve many firsts over the next 65 years: the invention of the first commercial connector gage kit in 1961, the Blue Dot Precision Connector in 1967 which later became the industry standard high precision Type N connector, and the first 40 GHz mode-free coaxial connector (MPC2) in 1973 which later evolved as the 2.92mm connector.  In 1983, HP partnered with Maury Microwave to provide the first calibration kits for the newly released 8510 VNA including Type N, 7mm and 3.5mm models.

A collaboration in the late 70s and early 80s with RCA David Sarnoff Laboratory lead to the development of the first automated impedance tuner system based on double-slug technique utilizing Maury’s slabline structure, and as a result, in the mid-‘80s the industry’s first automated slide-screw tuner technology was born.  The 80s, 90s and 2000s would see Maury innovate state-of-the-art device characterization technologies at frequencies in the low MHz range to over 100 GHz!  In 2010, Maury launched ColorConnect™, the industry’s first line of color-coded interconnects which included precision adapters, cable assemblies, attenuators and torque wrenches.  Also in 2010, Maury launched the first active load pull system with wideband impedance control and baseband impedance control for modulated signals.  And our rate of development has only picked up pace since then!

Q. Maury Microwave was acquired by Artemis in June 2021. What has been the impact of this acquisition? 

Michael HowoArtemis has been a great partner and shares common values of continuous innovation and service mindset.  They have empowered us to grow our business both organically and through acquisitions, such as our acquisition of dBmCorp in October 2021.

Q. Can you tell us more about the different products and solutions that Maury Microwave offers?

Michael Howo: Our products and solutions are tied together through our mission, to give our customers confidence in their RF through THz measurements and models.  As applications experts, we are intimately, and in some ways uniquely, aware of how individual components, accessories, instruments and even techniques and methodologies can impact measurement accuracy and repeatability.  

We have made it our purpose to optimize each system component to offer best-in-class and fully proven solutions. We are leading the revolution to quantify all aspects of measurement uncertainties so customers can get additional confidence in their measurements and, as a result, extract more accurate device models. This has resulted in five product lines:

  • Device characterization solutions comprised of application-specific software, impedance tuners, pulsed IV systems and source measure units, and highly-optimized individual device characterization components.
  • Calibration solutions comprised of characterized (CD) VNA calibration and verification kits, standards, cryogenic noise calibration systems, and Insight™, our calibration, validation, and S-parameter measurement software platform. 
  • Interconnect solutions including coaxial and waveguide adapters, cable assemblies, attenuators, torque wrenches and connector gages. 
  • Test and measurement instrument amplifiers. 
  • And, through our acquisition of dBmCorp, satellite channel emulators

Q. Can you tell us about your customer-facing solutions-focused process?

Michael Howo: The customer solution process starts with the understanding that every customer is different, and likewise, what is “best” for one customer may not be best for another.  Every engagement starts with understanding the unique set of objectives, challenges, concerns, limitations, and must-haves (vs nice-to-haves) with respect to performance, timing, budgets, and the possible evolution of the requirements over time.

We combine this feedback with our applications expertise to analyse, identify and develop the solution that best meets these requirements, after which we objectively evaluate and validate system performance.  We optimize and improve as required so that the delivered solution is truly best-in-class.  Finally, we mutually agree to an acceptance test document that describes exactly what we are committing to provide and holds us mutually accountable to delivering on our commitments to each other.

Q. Can you tell us about the load-pull measurement solutions that you offer?

Michael HowoWe offer a wide range of load pull solutions, which allows us to configure each customer’s system to meet their specific requirements. This ranges from standalone impedance tuners for basic VSWR testing to turnkey device model extraction or validation systems. Our portfolio includes passive, active and hybrid-active fundamental, and harmonic impedance control, using single-tone and two-tone CW and pulsed-CW signals, wideband impedance control and baseband impedance control for modulated signals, nonlinear large-signal time domain analysis and behavioural model extraction, under constant DC or pulsed bias conditions, from the low MHz to 1.1 THz.

Q. Maury Microwave has a wide range of Impedance Tuners? What are some applications of these products?

Michael HowoMaury offers fundamental and harmonic coaxial and waveguide impedance tuners from the low MHz to over 110 GHz!  The tuners are often used as standalone instruments, or as part of a larger device characterization solution.

Tuners are used across Research & Development and Design Validation Test / Verification and Validation test at the component, circuit or even sub-system/system level. Common applications include compact or behavioral device model extraction or validation , component characterization, amplifier design, and stability/ruggedness/reliability test.

Q. Maury has developed a complete range of calibration solutions. Can you tell us more about this product portfolio?

Michael HowoMaury’s calibration solutions are centred around a Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) calibration. Not to be confused with instrument calibration, VNA calibration, also known as vector error correction, uses a combination of terminations (short, open, load) and/or airlines to calculate systematic VNA error terms and define measurement reference planes.

What started as a limited VNA calibration kit offering to support HP’s 8510 product launch expanded through the years into a comprehensive line of calibration kits and standards covering DC-67 GHz in 11x 50 Ω and 75 Ω coaxial connector options and 14x waveguide options, compatible with all modern VNA makes and models.

 Maury Microwave's VNA Verification Kit 2650CK60

Recent additions to our calibration portfolio include characterized SOLT calibration kits, which offer TRL-like accuracy with SOLT ease-of-use, and characterized verification kits, which are equally as important as the calibration kits themselves and are used to validate the accuracy of a VNA calibration.  We are ISO/IEC 17025 accredited to support the growing customer shift to include uncertainties.  We also launched a software platform called Insight™, which is used to calibrate, validate, and perform S-parameter measurements.

Q. Can you tell us about the features and applications of your Insight Calibration and Measurement Software?

Michael HowoInsight is our solution to the challenges and wishes communicated to us by hundreds of customers using calibration kits and taking S-parameter measurements on classic VNAs. Insight offers a wizard-driven easy-to-use GUI compatible with most commercial VNAs and VNA cal kits. Gone are the days where users had to learn different menus, definitions, and settings that were error prone and lead to common mistakes or measurement inconsistencies; gone are the days where VNA calibration kits were compatible only with the vendor’s VNA.

Insight™ also empowers users to easily validate their VNA calibration using characterized verification kits, a huge leap over crossing fingers and hoping for a successful calibration. Finally, we have empowered Insight™ with S-parameters measurement uncertainties through a collaboration with METAS, the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology.  Measurement uncertainties can be used as part of calibration validation process, and to gain insight into, and minimize, measurement inconsistencies, leading to an improved confidence in measurements!

Q. Can you tell us about your Interconnect Solutions?

Michael HowoAs the saying goes, a chain is as strong as its weakest link, and nowhere does that hold truer than with interconnects and measurement systems. In our experience, it’s the smallest things that can cause the greatest negative impacts on a measurement system’s performance, accuracy and repeatability.  As applications experts, we developed a line of application-specific interconnect solutions including cable assemblies, adapters, attenuators and tools. Each product within the interconnect family has been optimized to meet a specific application requirements.

Taking cables as an example, we offer our StabilityVNA assembly which has been optimized for VNA S-parameter measurements, StabilityPlus which has been optimized to minimize measurement uncertainty, StabilityTVAC optimized for thermal vacuum chamber measurements, StabilityWafer for on-wafer measurements, and StabilityFlex when flexibility is of upmost importance.

Q. What is the ColorConnect™ Product Line? What makes these products unique?

Michael HowoWith so many connectors on the market (1mm, 1.85mm, 2.4mm, 2.92mm, 3.5mm, SMA…), how can a person easily know which are mechanically compatible, and what is the limiting frequency range? Attempting to connect incompatible connector types can have disastrous effects: damaged equipment, degraded reliability, degraded performance, increased maintenance time, lost efficiency.

If only there was an easy way to identify connector types, maybe a color-coding scheme?  The IEEE discussed it, we were the first to proactively adopted it, and from this challenge our ColorConnect™ family of interconnect solutions was born which includes cable assemblies, adapters, attenuators and torque wrenches, with additional products being added over time.

Q. Apart from calibration equipment and the interconnect product line Maury also offers RF power amplifiers. What made you to enter this segment?

Michael HowoAs part of our best-in-class solutions, we often struggled to source instrument amplifiers that did not degrade the quality of our advanced measurements in some manner. To fulfil our mission to give confidence in RF through THz measurements and models, we used our load pull expertise to optimize amplifier performance including power, linearity, harmonic power, spurious signals, noise floor and frequency range. 

Instrumentation Amplifier Test-bench from Maury Microwave

These amplifiers are optimally suited for our load pull (non-50 Ω) and 50 Ω high-power measurement solutions and are starting to be used with EMC test chambers. Click here to view these power amplifiers developed by Maury Microwave.

About Maury Microwave

Maury Microwave Corporation is one of the leading manufacturers of laboratory devices and system components, with an emphasis on device characterization and automated tuning systems. The company was founded in 1957 and earned a solid reputation in the microwave test and calibration industry, while developing a comprehensive line of precision instruments, coaxial and waveguide components, and support products.

Click here to Maury Microwaves' profile on everything RF.