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Graphene’s potential to improve magnetic measurements for accelerators

Collaboration between CERN and UK firm Paragraf could pave the way for more precise measurements of local magnetic fields

Setting up the graphene Hall sensor
Paragraf and CERN scientists setting up the graphene Hall sensor for performance evaluation at CERN Magnetic Measurement laboratory in February 2020 (Image: CERN)

CERN and Paragraf – a technology company borne out of the department of materials science at the University of Cambridge – are set to detail final results of tests conducted on a novel graphene-based local magnetic measurement sensor. The collaboration has proved that such a sensor eliminates some of the systematic errors and inaccuracies found in the state-of-the-art sensors used at CERN.

The Hall probe is an important tool for local magnetic field mapping – an essential task in particle accelerators, which depend on high-precision magnetic fields. The probe transduces the magnetic field into a proportional voltage. However, errors frequently arise due to elements of the sensor not being perfectly aligned and sensitive to in-plane field components (planar effect), as well as non-linear response.

Theoretically, graphene solves this issue. This carbon allotrope, first discovered at the University of Manchester in 2004, has been hailed as the new wonder material, as its extreme thinness, lightness, conductivity and resistance could revolutionize a variety of technologies. In the case of the Hall probe, the development of a two-dimensional graphene sensor clears the issue of planar effects and makes for precise detections, including at liquid-helium temperatures.


Find out more in the CERN Courier.