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Quantum technologies

Nanoscale magnetics consultancy

Characterisation of magnetic properties

This service is aimed at companies developing new spintronic devices and manufacturers assessing the magnetic properties of materials in production.  It will also be of interest to researchers and universities studying fundamental magnetic properties. NPL offers a range of services aiming to help solve some of the following problems:

  • Manufacturing defects
  • Unreliable magnetisation switching 
  • Magnetic properties not  meeting specifications
  • Test and evaluation for magnetic sensor development 
  • Poor magnetic sensor performance
  • Sub-optimal cross-talk between devices on the same integrated circuit
  • Assessing the quality of supplier magnetic nanoparticle materials 
  • Grain scale effects adversely impacting performance different steel batches conveying dissimilar properties

Imaging magnetic properties on the nanoscale

NPL has several specialised techniques allowing characterisation of devices and materials’ magnetic properties on the nanoscale. We offer consultancy services using a range of state-of-the-art techniques:

Magnetic force microscopyMagnetic_portable_microscopy.png

Standard magnetic force microscopy (MFM) provides qualitative mapping of a sample’s magnetic stray field at the surface. Nanoscale characterisation of magnetic fields is important for fundamental and applied research on magnetic materials and devices. It includes:

  • Understanding of domain structure in magnetic materials
  • Understanding of the origin of magnetic losses in electrical steels for electric motors or transformers
  • Characterisation of local fields for magnetic sensors and devices for consumer electronics.

​NPL has developed a new method to offer quantitative MFM measurements which provides quantitative values of the stray field. This unique MFM scanning technique can be combined with other systems and techniques to allow:

  • In-field measurements, with up to 150 mT of in-plane or 100 mT of out-of-plane field
  • Electrostatic compensation using Kelvin-probe microscopy (KPFM), ideal for electrically biased devices or other materials where the surface charge is important,  especially for 2D semiconductor materials
  • Measurements in a range of environmental conditions, such as vacuum down to the 10-6 mbar or up to 100 °C
  • Capability to electrically monitor the sample while imaging, which allows the study of local electrical, magnetic or thermal gating effects

Magnetic property measurement system magnetic_property_measurement_system.png

NPL’s magnetic property measurement system (MPMS) allows measurements of a sample’s magnetic moment and magnetisation up to 5T and in the temperature range 2-400 K. The technique is suitable for:

  • Bulk materials
  • Thin films
  • Nanoparticles and nanowires (including measurements in liquid)

NPL’s participation in standardisation of methods for magnetic nanoparticle characterisation allows us to provide measurements using the latest developed protocols, guaranteeing the highest possible degree of repeatability and confidence. Contact us to discuss tests under bespoke conditions.



Magneto-optical Kerr effectMagnetooptical_kerr_effect.jpg

The magneto-optical Kerr effect (MOKE) system at NPL has a field of view of a few mm down to a resolution of 200 nm, and allows the study of the surface magnetisation of a wide range of samples, with both in-plane and out-of-plane fields. We can examine thin films, magnetic devices, and bulk materials to:

  • Understand domain structure in magnetic materials
  • Investigate the origin of magnetic losses in electrical steels for electric motors or transformers
  • Study quantum spintronic materials and devices, e.g. relevant for magnetic memories, magnetic sensors, radio-frequency and microwave devices, logic and non-Boolean devices.

Magneto-transport measurement system Magnetotransport.png

Our magneto-transport measurement system allows measuring in-field electrical properties of magnetic devices, magnetic sensors and materials whose electrical properties are susceptible to magnetic fields. The system operates at room temperature and allows 360° rotation of the sample in the field. Measurements can be performed using both DC and AC currents on the sample up to 100 kHz. This system allows:

  • Development of magnetic field sensors
  • Investigation of magnetization evolution in nanodevices
  • Measurement of carrier properties in 2D materials



Confidence in product developmentConfidence.png

NPL experts can provide consultancy in the field of spintronics and quantum materials. As well as the techniques above, we can help with:

  • Nanoscale thermal and electrical measurements
  • Nanofabrication design
  • Electron-based detection, such as electron holography and Lorentz microscopy
  • Numerical simulations
  • Communicating with standards organisations



Read the recent article about NPL’s work in this area: Magnetic Force Microscopy: Comparison and Validation of Different Magnetic Force Microscopy Calibration Schemes


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Measurement for Quantum

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Announcing a new programme to support the UK quantum industry through access to specialist science and engineering advice and facilities.

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