Condensed matter physicist Mathias Kläui awarded ERC Proof of Concept Grant to develop innovative magnetic sensors for applications involving thousands of revolutions
EU support to bridge gap between theoretical research and commercial applications
Professor Mathias Kläui of the Institute of Physics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has received a grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to develop a new type of magnetic sensor. This allows Kläui to develop a concept for a sensor further that will eventually be able to record large numbers of revolutions. The new components will be designed for use in the automotive or automation industries and will replace current energy-hungry sensors. The support takes the form of a Proof of Concept Grant from the European Research Council to the value of EUR 150,000 that has been awarded on the basis of the initial results achieved by Kläui under his ERC Starting Grant. The new magnetic sensors are expected to be ready for pilot applications within 18 months of the project start.
Current magnetic sensors used to precisely determine angular position have the disadvantage of only being able to measure angles between 0 and 360 degrees. They are thus incapable of detecting more than one revolution and are also unable to differentiate between angles of 10 and 370 degrees. There are many technical systems, such as a steering wheel, that make several revolutions in use. Professor Mathias Kläui's work group has come up with a concept that builds on the movements made by magnetic domain walls. There are multi-turn angle sensors that are presently available that can measure up to 16 revolutions. The new concept goes far beyond this and uses an innovative geometry to make a much larger number of revolutions quantifiable. This is of fundamental importance to automation technology, for example.
"We have already gained experience and validated the theoretical physics behind the new sensor in the lab. Now we have to see whether it can also be produced on an industrial scale at a reasonable price," said Kläui.
The new MultiRevolution Sensor does not need a power supply to record and save data, but merely for the occasional logging of the revolution counter. The new technology offers enormous advantages for industrial users. Current non-magnetic sensors that sense multiple turns are expensive and complex as they combine an angle sensor with non-volatile memory components. These can be replaced by a simple, energy-saving magnetic element. The expectation is that the market for micro-magnetic sensors will expand significantly as they can record thousands of revolutions rather than only one or very few and new applications can be opened up.
The European Research Council launched the Proof of Concept Grant in 2011. It is available only to those researchers who have already received an ERC Grant and now plan to further work on the concept developed during the supported project to transform it into a viable innovative product. Professor Mathias Kläui had already received an ERC Starting Grant to support his project "Spin currents in magnetic nanostructures (MASPIC)". Kläui has held a professorship at the Institute of Physics at Mainz University since 2011 and was appointed Director of the Materials Science in Mainz (MAINZ) Graduate School of Excellence in 2012. In July 2014, he was elected Coordinator of the Executive Committee of the Gutenberg Council for Young Researchers, which is dedicated to supporting excellent young academics at Mainz University.