New international standard on magnetic measurements and open access software

Large inductor coil

EMPIR project contributes to the world’s first international standard in small magnetic measurements and produces guides and software to ensure compliance

Measurements for homogeneous magnetic fields traceable to the International System of Units, the SI, have been available for some time, but there has been no established methods for varying magnetic fields at the nano and microscale level. This measurement is important to ensure the placement and performance of such things as batteries used in mobile phones and motors for electric cars.

Measurements at this scale are problematic due to the often-weak nature of these fields which can also interact with each other - further complicating measurements. A now completed project within EURAMET’s European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR), Nano-scale traceable magnetic field measurements (NanoMag, 15SIB06), has resolved this problem.

To do this the project developed new techniques as well as establishing many ‘world firsts’ including:

  • Development of the first micro and nano scale field sensors for scanning magnetic field measurements
  • Worlds first large-scale Magnetic Force Microscope systems at PTB (Germany’s National Metrology Institute) and CMI (the National Metrology Institute of the Czech Republic)
  • The development of a high-resolution scanning giant magneto resistance microscope at CEA (The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission)
  • The development of a scanning Hall probe microscope at PTB which demonstrates spatial resolution down to 5 μm over millimetre scan areas
  • The development of the first reference samples for Magnetic Force Microscope calibration.

In addition, project outputs have led to the drafting of the first international standard in the field of nano-scale magnetic measurements: ’Nanotechnology standardisation for electrical and electronic products and systems’. This is currently being reviewed by the international standardisation group IEC TC 113 and is expected to be published in 2021.

To support the new standard the project also developed ’Guidelines for Nano-scale Magnetic Stray Field Measurements along with the open access software Gwyddion. The software is designed to help laboratory calibration measurements in support of the new standard. This software is currently being downloaded at a remarkable 4000 times per month – giving indication of the importance of making accurate measurements in this field.

Project outputs are also being taken up by several European companies. SENIS AG, a world leader in magnetic and current measurements and project partner, has now commercialised a field sensor for nano scale magnetic measurements incorporating improvements developed in the project. Nenovision, who provide atomic force microscopy capability for electron scanning microscopes, is using the magnetic reference materials developed to help validate the accuracy of a new magnetic measurement system they hope to integrate into their products.

The projects quantitative MFM measurements are now being used in another EMPIR project Metrology for topological spin structure (TOPS, 17FUN08) which is investigating the intrinsic ‘spin properties’ of electrons to process information in a way that is analogous to charge in traditional electronics. This cutting-edge research holds the promise of making faster, and more efficient electronic devices and could lead to a significant reduction in the output of CO2 in the electronics industry.

This highly successful project was coordinated by Dr Hans Werner Schumacher at PTB, Germanys National Measurement Institute who said: “The results of the NanoMag project will enable reliable measurements of nano-scale magnetic fields all over the world with broad applications from information technology to bio-medical systems.”

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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