Transfer of sensitive quantum magnetometers from the laboratory to industry


Fraunhofer IAF has built a quantum magnetometer shaped on a diamond. Quantum magnetometers can record magnetic fields with a spatial resolution of a few nanometers down to individual electron and nuclear spins.

Photo credit: Ezume Images

Due to the physical properties of the material, diamond quantum magnetometers operate at room temperature, which is suitable for industrial applications. Fraunhofer IAF is presenting two promising projects at LASER World of PHOTONICS 2022.

At present, magnetometers are only suitable for industrial use to a limited extent, since their operation is complicated and, in certain cases, only possible with strong cooling. In addition, their spatial resolution is very low or sensitive for some applications.

Therefore, Fraunhofer scientists from six institutes have joined forces in the Quantum Magnetometry (QMag) project to develop sensors that can map the smallest magnetic fields with unrivaled sensitivity, spatial resolution and at room temperature.

The aim of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project is to shift quantum magnetometry from university research to real industrial application: By 2024, the project team want to develop quantum magnetometers for industrial purposes such as chemical analysis, nanoelectronics and material testing.

Fraunhofer research consortium

QMag is endowed with around 10 million euros, shared equally between the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The core team of the QMag consortium includes the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM and the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM.

Three other Fraunhofer institutes contribute their technological and scientific expertise: the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB, the Fraunhofer Institute for Microtechnology and Microsystems IMM and the Fraunhofer Center for Applied Photonics CAP in Glasgow.

Major advances in material development

In the QMag project, two systems are being tested, based on the same physical measurement principles and techniques, but aimed at different applications: Firstly, scientists are creating an imaging scanning probe magnetometer based on NV centers in diamond for precise measurements on nanoelectronic circuits.

On the other hand, they develop measuring systems based on highly sensitive optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs) for applications in process analysis and materials testing.

In the first half of the project, we were able to make great progress in the development and optimization of diamond sensor tips for the scanning probe magnetometers.

dr Ralf Ostendorf, project coordinator QMag, Fraunhofer IAF

This involves both the growth of the highest quality diamonds and the targeted creation and placement of NV centers in the diamond tips. In addition, scientists have built microlenses and fabricated magnetic nanoparticles that are added to the diamond tips to further improve their efficiency and accuracy.

Measurement of the smallest magnetic fields with diamond and laser

The second research project of the Fraunhofer IAF in the field of quantum magnetometry deals with applications in medical diagnostics:

In the “NV-doped CVD diamond for ultrasensitive laser threshold magnetometry” (DiLaMag for short) project, a team is investigating the creation of a very sensitive sensor that can, for example, quantify the weak magnetic fields of the brain and cardiac activities of the human body. This could be used to identify first stage diseases.

Our goal is to develop an extremely sensitive magnetic field sensor that works both at room temperature and in existing background fields and is therefore practicable for clinical use.

dr Jan Jeske, researcher and project leader of DiLaMag, Fraunhofer IAF


At the LASER World of PHOTONICS 2022 trade fair, there will be an area for quantum technologies for the first time: In the World of Quantum (Hall A4), the participating Fraunhofer Institutes IPM, IAF and IWM will be showing their QMag project. The joint stand shows material tests with OPMs.

In addition, the Fraunhofer IAF will present its research efforts in the area of ​​diamond growth and NV-doped diamond and show the simple measuring principle with NV diamonds.

LASER World of PHOTONICS 2022 is expected to take place from April 26th toth and 29th.



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