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Highly Sensitive Nanoscale Scanning Magnetic and Thermal Sensor

Technology Number: 


Principal Investigator



Condensed Matter Physics

Patent Status: 

Granted US 8723514

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the development of nanoscale magnetic and thermal characterization tools in order to address rapidly evolving fields, such as nanomagnetism, spintronics and energy-efficient computing. The requirements from these tools include high sensitivity and high spatial resolution to enable local detection and accurate measurements of extremely low signals. For example, the energy dissipation mechanism in quantum systems is related to preservation of quantum information, which is of particular importance in the field of quantum computing. Available local magnetic imaging methods suffer from low sensitivity and in some cases, low spatial resolution. On the other hand, energy dissipation is not a readily measurable quantity on the nanometer scale and existing thermal imaging methods are not sensitive enough for studying quantum systems and are unsuitable for low temperature operation.

A novel sensor device comprising a nanoscale superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) was developed by Prof. Zeldov at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The fabrication method enables the miniaturization of the sensor to an effective diameter of below 50 nm and its integration onto the apex of a very sharp tip that is ideally suited for scanning probe microscopy. The extremely small size of the SQUID-on-tip sensor and the ability to approach very close to the sample surface result in nano-metric spatial resolution and a very sensitivity.


·         Scanning probe microscopy for magnetic and thermal characterization

·         Inspection and probing equipment for quantum computing


  • Simple fabrication process

  • High field sensitivity and bandwidth

  • Nanoscale sensors (down to 46 nm in diameter)

  • Tip-sample distance can be as close as a few nanometers

Technology's Essence

A SQUID is a very sensitive magnetometer used to measure extremely subtle magnetic fields, based on superconducting loops. The present invention is a novel sensor device, based on a nanoscale two-junction or multi-junction SQUIDs fabricated on the edge of a sharp tip in a three dimensional geometric configuration. In such a setup, the SQUID can approach the sample to a distance of few nanometers, as opposed to the conventional planar SQUIDs, which results in an extremely high sensitivity.

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