Electron Spin Resonance detectors from 400 MHz to 360 GHz

Methods based on the electron spin resonance (ESR) phenomenon are non-invasive tools adopted to investigate paramagnetic systems at temperatures ranging from above 1000 K to below 1 K. Since 2008, the group of Dr. Boero has been working on a detection technique based on the integration of ESR sensors on single chips. The proposed methodology allowed to study samples in the nanoliter scale and reach a spin sensitivity at least two orders of magnitude better than the best commercially available spectrometers. The detection principle can be summarized as follows. An ESR sensitive sample is placed in close proximity to the planar inductor of an LC oscillator operating at microwave frequency. In presence of a suitable static magnetic field, the ESR phenomenon takes place. It causes a variation in the sample magnetization which translates to a variation of the inductance, leading to both a frequency shift of the oscillator (frequency detection) and a variation of the oscillation amplitude (amplitude detection). Consequently, the ESR phenomenon may be detected by tracking the operating point of the oscillator. In this thesis, I investigate the application of the aforementioned detection principle in the range from 400 MHz to 360 GHz. Firstly, a semi-integrated solution operating from 400 MHz to 610 MHz is developed for an industrial application (CTI project). In such context, the originality of the work stands in the implementation of a completely standalone portable scanner for contactless inspection which may also be used for ferromagnetic (FMR) applications and zero-field measurements. Secondly, a set of single-chip ESR detectors working from 10 GHz to 146 GHz and based on CMOS technologies are characterized from 300 K down to 10 K. Here, an ESR experiment at a frequency as high as 360 GHz can be performed thanks to the fourth harmonic signal generated by a 90 GHz detector. Conversely, the 10 GHz detector shows the best noise performance and allows to achieve the record distance resolution of 0.3 pm when used as a proximity sensor. After that, the possibility of using integrated technologies based on HEMTs is investigated so as to overcome the main limitations of the CMOS based detectors: (1) the high power consumption which denies their use below 10 K and (2) the saturation issue due to the magnitude of the intrinsic microwave magnetic field produced by the oscillators. In this context, two HEMT oscillators working at 11 GHz and 25 GHz are realized. In particular, the former achieves the record minimum power consumption (90 uW at 300 K and 4 uW below 30 K) currently reported in the literature for oscillators working in the same frequency range. Also, the proposed sensor achieves a minimum microwave magnetic field of less than 1 uT at 300 K and less than 0.1 uT below 30 K, i.e., orders of magnitude below the values achieved with previous CMOS detectors. Furthermore, an analytical model is carried out in order to estimate the minimum achievable power consumption for an LC single-ended Colpitts oscillator based on any single FET. Lastly, the DC characterization of a standing alone HEMT transistor is provided from 300 K down to 1.4 K, ranging from the standard Ids-Vs-Vds curves to the extraction of both the number of carriers and their effective mobility. The former comes from the analysis of the Shubnikov-de-Haas oscillations whereas the latter is calculated by means of Hall-effect based experiments.

Boero, Giovanni
Lausanne, EPFL

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 Record created 2019-02-28, last modified 2020-04-20

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