The resolution and the sensitivity of today’s magnetometers is insufficient for many future applications. The goal of the Fraunhofer consortium »QMag« is to further develop magnetometers and to test them for applications. Two different magnetometer principles based on quantum technology concepts will be used:
On the one hand, nitrogen vacancy centers in diamond will be used, which function as the smallest scanning magnets in an imaging scanning probe magnetometer. This turns a single atomic system into a highly sensitive sensor that can already be operated at room temperature. On the other hand, an alternative measuring method is used that exploits the magnetic field dependence of the optical properties of alkali atoms (»optically pumped alkali magnetometers«, OPM).
Based on prototypes of such magnetometers, application-specific, cost-effective, complete measuring systems are to be developed. The two measuring methods are complementary with regard to highest spatial resolution and extreme sensitivity, so that different new applications can be developed as a result. With such novel quantum magnetometers, micro- and nanoelectronic components, for example, can be non-destructively tested and then optimized. Even individual bits in storage media could be visualized. In addition, we want to test and establish process nuclear magnetic resonance for chemical process analysis as well as scattered magnetic field measurement for contactless material testing.