Automotive engineering or aerospace need reliable and resistant materials. Quantum magnetometers can be used to detect the smallest damage before the materials show any recognizable cracks.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have discovered that quantum magnetometers can be used to detect minute damage in ferromagnetic materials before material fatigue becomes visible. Quantum magnetometers are significantly more sensitive than conventional magnetometers, which already detect cracks or precipitations in metallic components using locally altered magnetic fields.
In their work, the researchers combined optically pumped magnetometers (OPM) with imaging quantum magnetometers based on so-called NV centers. Using OPM, they were able to detect the smallest material defects in cyclically loaded samples much earlier and in a shorter time than with conventional technologies, while using NV magnetometry they were able to measure the magnetic properties of individual damage on the micro- and nanoscale in detail. According to the researchers, both technologies work at room temperature and are suitable for industrial applications. Six Fraunhofer Institutes were involved in the QMag project, including the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF and the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM.