ultra-sensitive magnetic sensor for space exploration

Published : 26 March 2019

The objective is to develop a miniature and ultra-sensitive magnetometer for space missions. Indeed, the measurement of the magnetic field in space is essential to study the heliosphere and the planets of the solar system. A new instrument concept, much smaller and lighter than the current instruments, has been developed in collaboration between a space laboratory and our spintronics laboratory. The magnetometer is based on an innovative architecture that includes a magnetic tunnel junction as sensitive element, a flux concentrator to amplify the field to be measured and a magnetic field modulation system to reduce the noise.

The thesis work will focus on the development of an innovative magnetic tunnel junction, studying the impact of the selected materials and junction geometry, as well as maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio of the sensing element. A prototype of the complete sensor is expected at the end of the doctorate. These studies will use results already obtained and patented. The work will be mainly experimental (clean room microfabrication, electrical and magnetic characterization, noise measurements, magnetic imaging) but will also include analysis and numerical simulations.

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