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Magnetic anisotropy controlled FeCoSiB thin films for surface acoustic wave magnetic field sensors

: Schell, V.; Müller, C.; Durdaut, P.; Kittmann, A.; Thormählen, L.; Lofink, F.; Meyners, D.; Höft, M.; McCord, J.; Quandt, E.


Applied Physics Letters 116 (2020), No.7, Art. 073503, 6 pp.
ISSN: 0003-6951 (Print)
ISSN: 1077-3118
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISIT ()

Surface acoustic wave magnetic field sensors based on guided Love waves using the ΔE effect of a magnetostrictive thin film have been shown to be promising candidates for the measurement of weak fields at low frequencies as required for biomagnetic applications or as current sensors benefitting from the large dynamic range and bandwidth. The deposition of soft magnetic films with high magnetostriction is, however, more challenging on piezoelectric substrates such as quartz than on silicon. Thermally induced anisotropic expansion during the deposition process or during post-deposition magnetic field annealing leads to uniaxial stresses acting on the films, which makes the precise control of magnetic anisotropy difficult. Accordingly, this work analyzes the influence of the deposition process and heat treatment on the performance of Love wave devices. ST-cut quartz based delay line surface acoustic wave sensors with a SiO2 guiding layer are employed, and a 200 nm layer of amorphous magnetostrictive (Fe90Co10)78Si12B10 is used as the sensitive element. Magneto-optical imaging is performed for magnetic domain characterization, and the sensor performance is characterized in terms of bias field dependent phase sensitivity and frequency dependent phase noise. By performing a low temperature deposition in an external magnetic field, considerable improvement in limits of detection at biomagnetic relevant frequencies down to 70 pT/√Hz at 10 Hz and 25 pT/√Hz at 100 Hz is achieved.