Understanding the Fundamental Principles of Vector Network Analysis

Network analysis is the process by which designers and manufacturers measure the electrical performance of the components and circuits used in more complex systems. When these systems are conveying signals with information content, we are most concerned with getting the signal from one point to another with maximum efficiency and minimum distortion. Vector network analysis is a method of accurately characterizing such components by measuring their effect on the amplitude and phase of swept-frequency and swept-power test signals.

In this application note, the fundamental principles of vector network analysis will be reviewed. The discussion includes the common parameters that can be measured, including the concept of scattering parameters (S-parameters). RF fundamentals such as transmission lines and the Smith chart will also be reviewed.