Vectorized magnetometer for space applications using electrical readout of atomic scale defects in silicon carbide

Corey J. Cochrane, Jordana Blacksberg, Mark A. Anders, Patrick M. Lenahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Magnetometers are essential for scientific investigation of planetary bodies and are therefore ubiquitous on missions in space. Fluxgate and optically pumped atomic gas based magnetometers are typically flown because of their proven performance, reliability, and ability to adhere to the strict requirements associated with space missions. However, their complexity, size, and cost prevent their applicability in smaller missions involving cubesats. Conventional solid-state based magnetometers pose a viable solution, though many are prone to radiation damage and plagued with temperature instabilities. In this work, we report on the development of a new self-calibrating, solid-state based magnetometer which measures magnetic field induced changes in current within a SiC pn junction caused by the interaction of external magnetic fields with the atomic scale defects intrinsic to the semiconductor. Unlike heritage designs, the magnetometer does not require inductive sensing elements, high frequency radio, and/or optical circuitry and can be made significantly more compact and lightweight, thus enabling missions leveraging swarms of cubesats capable of science returns not possible with a single large-scale satellite. Additionally, the robustness of the SiC semiconductor allows for operation in extreme conditions such as the hot Venusian surface and the high radiation environment of the Jovian system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37077
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Nov 28 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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