High-Resolution Imaging of Magnetic Fields using Scanning Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID) Microscopy
Fong de los Santos, Luis E
Development of a scanning superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) microscope system with interchangeable sensor configurations for imaging magnetic fields of room-temperature (RT) samples with sub-millimeter resolution. The low-critical-temperature (Tc) niobium-based monolithic SQUID sensor is mounted in the tip of a sapphire rod and thermally anchored to the cryostat helium reservoir. A 25 um sapphire window separates the vacuum space from the RT sample. A positioning mechanism allows adjusting the sample-to-sensor spacing from the top of the Dewar. I have achieved a sensor-to-sample spacing of 100 um, which could be maintained for periods of up to 4 weeks. Different SQUID sensor configurations are necessary to achieve the best combination of spatial resolution and field sensitivity for a given magnetic source. For imaging thin sections of geological samples, I used a custom-designed monolithic low-Tc niobium bare SQUID sensor, with an effective diameter of 80 um, and achieved a field sensitivity of 1.5 pT/Hz^1/2 and a magnetic moment sensitivity of 5.4×10^-18 Am^2/Hz^1/2 at a sensor-to-sample spacing of 100 um in the white noise region for frequencies above 100 Hz. Imaging action currents in cardiac tissue requires higher field sensitivity, which can only be achieved by compromising spatial resolution. I developed a monolithic low-Tc niobium multiloop SQUID sensor, with sensor sizes ranging from 250 um to 1 mm, and achieved sensitivities of 480 – 180 fT/Hz^1/2 in the white noise region for frequencies above 100 Hz, respectively. For all sensor configurations, the spatial resolution was comparable to the effective diameter and limited by the sensor-to-sample spacing. Spatial registration allowed us to compare high-resolution images of magnetic fields associated with action currents and optical recordings of transmembrane potentials to study the bidomain nature of cardiac tissue or to match petrography to magnetic field maps in thin sections of geological samples.