9103 USB Picoammeter Blog list

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Over the years we have added quite a few blog posts on our 9103 USB Picoammeter. This blog post lists all the other 9103 blog posts by groups to make it easier for you to find information on the 9103. For more information about the RBD Instruments 9103 USB picoammeter please contact us here.

General Information

A Guide to 9103 Picoammeter Compatibility

9103 USB Picoammeter Winter 2020 News

Bias options

9103 Floating Ground Reference

9103 Picoammeter bias modes

5 kV floating Picoammeter Video

Actuel Software

9103 USB Picoammeter Filter Settings – Part 1

New Feature: Use the 9103 Picoammeter to Automatically Read microCMA Target Current

9103 Actuel Beta: Data Cursor and Auto-save

9103 Picoammeter Actuel Update: Micro Window Display

Synchronizing and Identifying Multiple 9103 Picoammeters

High-speed Support Improved in Latest Actuel Release (1.7) for the 9103 Picoammeter

Actuel 1.8 Adds New Auto-Save and Graphing Features to the 9103 Picoammeter


Programming the 9103 Picoammeter

Programming the 9103 With Python – Part 1: Standard Speed

Programming the 9103 With Python – Part 2: Switching Between Standard and High-Speed Modes

Programming the 9103 With Python – Part 3: High Speed


How to test the bias batteries in a 9103 picoammeter

Calibrating the 9103 USB Picoammeter

Also, here are some useful links from the 9103 section of our website:

Sample Code (RBD)


Sample Code (Third-party)

NOTE: These scripts/applications are provided third-party publishers and are not directly supported by RBD Instruments.

LabVIEW Instrument Scripts (Unzip and copy the folder to “instr.lib” in your LabVIEW folder. Instructions are included in the library. Written with LabView 7.1.)
Matlab Scripts (GitHub)
Python Scripts (GitHub – UC Dublin)

Replacement Parts

Replacement parts are available for the 9103:

  • Replacement fuse for 9103 Picoammeter ( Very fast acting, 0.05A .25x.35″, Plug-In)y
    Fuse Change Procedure

For more information on our 9103 USB Picoammeter contact us here.

Using the CMapp Extended Conditioning Feature for the microCMA

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CMapp (software for the microCMA) versions 1.2 and greater now have a feature which allows for extended conditioning of the integrated 3kV electron gun.

To access this feature, first make sure that the Beam Voltage and Filament Current in the Electron Gun Controller are both turned off.

Open the conditioning dialog box by selecting the System / Conditioning… menu command or by pressing the Conditioning Icon on the task bar. Next, follow these steps:

Conditioning Icon
CMapp Conditioning Dialog
CMapp Conditioning Dialog
  1. Check the Filament Degas box and set the time in minutes that you want the filament current to ramp up. For new installations the degas filament current value is imported from the factory properties file and can be set for a time of 60 minutes. After the electron gun has been fully conditioned you can reduce the Filament Degas Time to as short as 5 minutes.

  2. Next check the Beam Conditioning box and set the starting voltage to 0 and the ending voltage to 3000. For new installations this can be set to 120 or 180 minutes. That is how long it will take to bring the beam voltage all the way up. After the electron gun has been fully conditioned you can reduce the Beam Conditioning Time to as short as 5 minutes, but 20 or 30 minutes is the recommended minimum Beam Conditioning Time.

  3. Next check the Filament On box. Checking this will keep the filament on while the beam voltage is being ramped up. This helps to condition the electron gun by letting the heat from the filament keep the electron gun warm.

  4. Make sure that the Multiplier Conditioning box is not checked and then check the Extended Conditioning box. If the Multiplier Condition box is checked then the Extended Conditioning box is grayed out.

  5. With the Extended Conditioning box checked, enter the amount of time that you would like to let the electron gun sit with the filament current on and the beam voltage at 3kV.  Typically, this time is set to 120 to 180 minutes.

  6. Press the Start button and the Conditioning routine will ramp up the filament, then ramp up the beam voltage, then hold the beam voltage at 3000V and keep the filament ON until the time runs down.

The Extended Conditioning feature helps to outgas the electron gun and condition the electron gun ceramics which in turn helps with the stability of the electron beam and data signal to noise.

Learn more about Auger Electron Spectroscopy and RBD’s microCMA.

Scientific Glassblowing Resources

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Glassblowing has been around for thousands of years, and we see examples of it every day. From neon signs to Murano glass to Chihuly glass exhibits. Less well known but very important to science is the art and craft of scientific glassblowing which is the process of creating glass apparatus used in research and production.

Over the years I have had the good luck to be working at universities on one or another type of vacuum chamber related instrument where some glass to metal seal was damaged but was able to be repaired by the resident glass blower.  More recently it seems that many of the glassblowers at universities are retiring and not being replaced. So, to an extent, scientific glass blowing is becoming a nearly lost art as this interesting article on the History of Glassblowing explains.

But all is not lost as there are still scientific glass blowers who are handing down their glassblowing expertise to those who will carry on the tradition.

Also, there are some schools which offer glassblowing courses such as Salem Community College.

Listed below are some companies that provide custom scientific glass blowing services. These companies can also repair broken glass to metal seals.

Nunn Better Glass


Precision Glass Blowing



Finally, The American Glassblowers Society has a Find a Glassblower link that lists glass blowers from different parts of the USA. https://asgs-glass.org/#