MAGV: Enabling Volume Quantum Magnetometer Applications through Component Optimisation & System Miniaturisation

Project title: MAGV: Enabling Volume Quantum Magnetometer Applications through Component Optimisation & System Miniaturisation

Project value: £2,661,681

Project partners: Microchip Technology Caldicot LimitedCardiff UniversityCompound Semiconductor Centre LimitedInex Microtechnology LimitedNational Physical LaboratoryCompound Semiconductor Technologies Global LimitedUniversity of Nottingham

Project summary: There are a number of applications where accurate detection and identification of defects is critical and would benefit significantly from rapid and highly sensitive technologies. These include detection of defects under insulated and/or coated assets, where the global maintenance cost of corrosion under insulation is reported to be in the region of £4 trillion due to lack of effective detection techniques and the need for detecting of buried/underground objects accurately to reduce environmental impact during excavations for maintenance. For high-volume steel and other ferromagnetic material materials industries, defect detection is equally critical, where small changes in yields and material performance have significant effects on profitability.

RF quantum magnetometers are ideally suited for these applications; they have sensitivities comparable to Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (in the order of ~fT/Hz1/2), the dual mode of operation allows for rapid defect detection (under self-oscillating mode with near-infinite bandwidth) as well as defect identification. To date, RF quantum magnetometers have been confined for use in laboratories due to the size of the current equipment. However, the technology is based on relatively simple instrumentation and allows for miniaturisation with potential for high-volume deployment and compatibility with Industry 4.0 solutions.

The MAGV project aims to address these challenges and will develop the World’s first state-of-the-art commercial RF atomic magnetometer probe-head that can operate in unshielded environments, allowing for miniaturisation of the RF quantum magnetometer technology and opening up a pathway towards volume applications. The 30 month project will also explore system enhancements, novel configurations and wafer-cell technologies for size/weight/power/cost reduction.