Fraunhofer researchers of six institutes have joined forces to develop quantum magnetormeters for different industrial applications. The official kick-off event of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project quantum magnetometry, QMag for short, took place in Berlin on May 14, 2019.
Prof. Dr. Reimund Neugebauer, president of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, MinDgt Günter Leßnerkraus, head of department at the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Housing Baden-Wuerttemberg, and Prof. Dr. Gunter Neuhaus, vice rector of the University of Freiburg opened the event.
The consortium is planning on transferring quantum magnetometry from the field of university research into concrete industrial applications. During the kick-off, they presented the scientific approach, the aims and perspectives of QMag. »Our lighthouse projects set important strategic priorities to develop concrete technological solutions for Germany as an economic location. QMag paves the way for a Fraunhofer lighthouse in the field of quantum technology. The ambition of the excellent scientists who take part in the project is to significantly improve the technology and to define it internationally. In this way, the revolutionary innovations of quantum magnetometry can be transferred into operational industrial applications in the long term«, said Prof. Neugebauer.
One measuring principle, two quantum sensors
The objective of the participating scientists is to develop quantum magnetometers capable of visualizing smallest magnetic fields with an unprecedented spatial resolution and sensitivity at room temperature. By 2024, the project partners want to realize quantum magnetometers for industrial applications in nanoelectronics, chemical analytics and material testing. »For this purpose, we will develop two complementary quantum sensor systems which are able to measure smallest magnetic fields and currents with highest spatial resolution, respectively highest magnetic sensitivity, at room temperature. The two systems are based on the same physical measuring principle and method but target different applications«, explains Prof. Dr. Oliver Ambacher, director of Fraunhofer IAF and project manager of QMag.
On the one hand, a scanning probe magnetometer based on NV centers in diamond will be realized for applications in nanoelectronics. With such a sensor system a contactless display of electricity distributions in micro- and nanoelectronic circuits is possible, since even the smallest electrical current produces a magnetic field that can be visualized using the quantum magnetometer. Such a precise fault analysis makes it possible to develop highly complex nanoelectronic systems, which will be required for the next generation of electronics.
On the other hand, the QMag consortium develops measuring systems based on highly sensitive optically pumped magnetometers (»OPMs«) for applications in material probing and process analysis. OPMs are so sensitive that they even detect magnetic fields as small as the fields that our brain waves produces while we think. In QMag, the scientists develop complete measuring systems that open up new applications in the field of low-field NMR (»nuclear magnetic resonance«) for chemical analytics and material testing. Their high sensitivity at low frequencies allows quantum magnetometers based on OPM to measure microscopic material defects non-destructively on the basis of their magnetic stray field signals.
About the Fraunhofer lighthouse project QMag
Project QMag runs until 2024 and is founded with a total of € 10 million euros, shared in equal parts by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM and the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM form the core team of the QMag consortium. Three additional Fraunhofer institutes contribute their scientific and technological competencies: The Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems IMM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB and the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics CAP in Glasgow.
Further, the project team will be supported by Prof. Dr. Jörg Wrachtrup (University of Stuttgart) in the field of diamond-based quantum technology and Prof. Dr. Svenja Knappe (University of of Colorado Boulder) in the field of atom gas magnetometry. Fraunhofer IAF is responsible for the overall coordination of the lighthouse project.