Scanning Hall probe microscope

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Scanning Hall probe microscope (SHPM) is a variety of a scanning probe microscope which incorporates accurate sample approach and positioning of the scanning tunnelling microscope with a semiconductor Hall sensor. This combination allows to map the magnetic induction associated with a sample. Current state of the art SHPM systems utilize 2D electron gas materials (e.g. GaAs/AlGaAs) to provide high spatial resolution (~300 nm) imaging with high magnetic field sensitivity. Unlike the magnetic force microscope the SHPM provides direct quantitative information on the magnetic state of a material. The SHPM can also image magnetic induction under applied fields up to ~1 tesla and over a wide range of temperatures (millikelvins to 300 K).[1]

The SHPM can be used to image many types of magnetic structures. A few structures are listed below.

  • Thin films
  • Permanent Magnets.
  • MEMS structures.
  • Current carrying traces on PCBs
  • Permalloy disks
  • Recording media

Advantages to other magnetic raster scanning methods[edit]

SHPM is a superior magnetic imaging technique due to many reasons including:

  • Unlike the MFM technique, the Hall probe exerts negligible force on the underlying magnetic structure and is noninvasive.
  • Unlike the magnetic decoration technique, the same area can be scanned over and over again.
  • Magnetic field caused by hall probe is so minimal it has a negligible effect on sample it is measuring.
  • Sample does not need to be an electrical conductor, unless using STM for height control.
  • Measurement can be performed from 5 – 500 K.
  • Measurement can be performed in ultra high vacuum (UHV).
  • Measurement is nondestructive to the crystal lattice or structure.
  • Tests requires no special surface preparation or coating.
  • Detectable magnetic field sensitivity, is approximately 0.1 uT – 10 T.
  • SHPM can be combined with other scanning methods like STM.


There are some shortcomings or difficulties when working with an SHPM, and some of these are as follows:

  • High resolution scans become difficult due to the thermal noise of extremely small hall probes.
  • There is a minimum scanning height distance due to the construction of the hall probe. (This is especially significant with 2DEG semi-conductor probes due to their multi-layer design).
  • Scanning (lift) height affects obtained image.
  • Scanning large areas takes a significant amount of time.
  • Relatively short practical scanning range (order of 1000's micrometer) along any direction.
  • Housing is important to shield electromagnetic noise (Faraday cage), acoustic noise (anti-vibrating tables), air flow (air isolation cupboard), and static charge on the sample (ionizing units).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chang, A. M.; Hallen, H. D.; Harriott, L.; Hess, H. F.; Kao, H. L.; Kwo, J.; Miller, R. E.; Wolfe, R.; Van Der Ziel, J.; Chang, T. Y. (1992). "Scanning Hall probe microscopy". Appl. Phys. Lett. 61 (16): 1974. Bibcode:1992ApPhL..61.1974C. doi:10.1063/1.108334.