Low-noise permalloy ring cores for fluxgate magnetometers
Fluxgate magnetometers are important tools for geophysics and space physics, providing high-precision magnetic field measurements. Fluxgate magnetometer noise performance is typically limited by a ferromagnetic element that is periodically forced into magnetic saturation to modulate, or gate, the local magnetic field. The parameters that control the intrinsic magnetic noise of the ferromagnetic element remain poorly understood. Much of the basic research into producing low-noise fluxgate sensors was completed in the 1960s for military purposes and was never publicly released. Many modern fluxgates depend on legacy Infinetics S1000 ring cores that have been out of production since 1996 and for which there is no published manufacturing process. We present a manufacturing approach that can consistently produce fluxgate ring cores with a noise of ∼6–11 pT per square root hertz – comparable to many of the legacy Infinetics ring cores used worldwide today. As a result, we demonstrate that we have developed the capacity to produce the low-noise ring cores essential for high-quality, science-grade fluxgate instrumentation. This work has also revealed potential avenues for further improving performance, and further research into low-noise magnetic materials and fluxgate magnetometer sensors is underway.