Magnetism and Ultrasensitive Sensors: Launch of the UBM Facility in Saclay

Developed by the Condensed Matter Physics Laboratory (SPEC, CNRS/CEA), the UBM facility is located in Orme-des-Merisiers, part of the CEA’s Saclay center. It constitutes the only facility in Europe for the design and characterization of magnetic sensors. It is dedicated to the advanced study in controlled conditions of magnetic fields and temperature, and to measuring the “noise level” of ultrasensitive sensors at previously unknown levels, on the order of the subfemtotesla [1] (<10-15 Tesla). The facility includes a non-magnetic zone (< 5.1015 T at 100 Hz) and a magnetically-shielded room for research. Available for academic and industrial partnerships, this facility is a true reference in the field of magnetic sensor characterization. It will thus be a major link between users, producers and research laboratories.

A facility dedicated to magnetic sensors
By definition, contact-free magnetic sensors measure the magnetic field created by a current or magnet. Light, accurate and non-intrusive, they are used in many technologies. For example, an automobile contains some forty magnetic sensors, including current sensors for safety and speed, rotation speed sensors for motors, brake sensors, switches, etc. Sensor networks are used in industry for nondestructive testing, and magnetometers for compass and space applications are also based on this technology. The use of sensors extends to health applications with ultra-low-field MRI, magnetoencephelography, magnetocadiography and biochips, whose development is closely tied to that of ultrasensitive magnetic sensors.

Development of magnetic sensors in France
In France, a significant share of the development of magnetic sensors takes place in the Saclay region southwest of Paris (CEA, CNRS, Ecole Polytechnique, ENS Cachan, and Université Paris-Sud). The UBM facility will make this a major research cluster both at the national and European levels because of the quality of the equipment and the partnerships among research teams that will work at the facility.

With a total cost of €1.25 million, the UBM facility received 50% of its funding from the Île de France region.

[1] Tesla (T): unit of measure for magnetic fields.