Posted in | Quantum Physics

Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project QMag Launched to Develop Quantum Magnetometers for Industrial Applications

Fraunhofer scientists belonging to six institutions have joined hands to create quantum magnetometers for various industrial applications. The official launch event of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project quantum magnetometry, or QMag, was held on May 14th, 2019, in Berlin.

The official kick-off event for the Fraunhofer lighthouse project quantum magnetometry, QMag for short, took place in Berlin on May 14, 2019. (Image credit: Fraunhofer IAF/Tilman Vogler)

The event was inaugurated by Prof. Dr Reimund Neugebauer, president of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft; MinDgt Günter Leßnerkraus, head of department at the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Housing Baden-Wuerttemberg; and Prof. Dr Gunter Neuhaus, vice rector of the University of Freiburg.

The consortium is intending to transfer quantum magnetometry from the university research realm into real industrial applications. During the launch, the scientific strategy, aims, and perspectives of QMag were presented.

Our lighthouse projects set important strategic priorities to develop concrete technological solutions for Germany as an economic location. QMag paves the way for a Fraunhofer lighthouse in the field of quantum technology. The ambition of the excellent scientists who take part in the project is to significantly improve the technology and to define it internationally. In this way, the revolutionary innovations of quantum magnetometry can be transferred into operational industrial applications in the long term.

Prof. Dr Reimund Neugebauer, President, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

One Measuring Principle, Two Quantum Sensors

The aim of the participating researchers is to create quantum magnetometers with the potential to visualize the tiniest magnetic fields with an unmatched spatial resolution and sensitivity at room temperature. The project collaborators intend to implement quantum magnetometers for industrial applications in material testing, chemical analytics, and nanoelectronics by 2024.

For this purpose, we will develop two complementary quantum sensor systems which are able to measure smallest magnetic fields and currents with highest spatial resolution, respectively highest magnetic sensitivity, at room temperature. The two systems are based on the same physical measuring principle and method but target different applications.

Prof. Dr Oliver Ambacher, Director, Fraunhofer IAF

Ambacher is also the project manager of QMag.

Firstly, a scanning probe magnetometer that is based on NV centers in diamond will be implemented for nanoelectronics applications. It is possible to achieve a contactless display of electricity distributions in micro- and nanoelectronic circuits using such a sensor system because even the tiniest electrical current generates a magnetic field that can be observed using the quantum magnetometer. A precise fault analysis such as this renders it feasible to create highly complex nanoelectronic systems, which will be needed for the next generation of electronics.

Secondly, the QMag consortium builds measuring systems that are based on highly sensitive optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs) for applications in process analysis and material probing. The sensitivity of OPMs is so high that they can even detect magnetic fields as tiny as the fields produced by the human brain when people think.

As part of QMag, the researchers create complete measuring systems that pave the way for innovative applications in the field of low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) for material testing and chemical analytics. Thanks to their high sensitivity at low frequencies, quantum magnetometers based on OPM can measure microscopic material defects in a non-destructive manner based on their magnetic stray field signals.

About the Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project QMag

Project QMag will run until 2024 and has been founded with a total of €10 million euros, equally shared by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. The core team of the QMag consortium is formed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM. Scientific and technological competencies have been contributed by three additional Fraunhofer institutes: The Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems IMM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB, and the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics CAP in Glasgow.

Moreover, the project group will be supported by Prof. Dr Jörg Wrachtrup (University of Stuttgart) in the field of diamond-based quantum technology and Prof. Dr Svenja Knappe (University of Colorado Boulder) in the field of atom gas magnetometry. Fraunhofer IAF takes responsibility for the overall coordination of the lighthouse project.

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