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Compact Magnetic Shielding Using Thick-Film Electroplated Permalloy


Compact integration of clocks and inertial sensors using atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) technology is necessary to create a self-contained navigation system resistant to external interference. However, the trend in miniaturization of AMO systems places the magnetic field of particle traps, optical isolators, and vacuum pumps close to other system components. Stray fields and field fluctuations cause changes in atomic transition frequencies, raising the noise floor and reducing the valuable stability in these precision devices. Therefore, it is critical to shield these magnetic fields away from sensitive subsystems by shunting them through low reluctance paths. This is accomplished with high permeability magnetic materials which either surround the precision components or the source of the magnetic field itself. Current magnetic shields are conventionally machined single or multi-layer structures made of various iron alloys. At smaller size scales, these manufacturing methods are ineffective at accommodating the various device and interconnect shapes, making multi-system integration challenging.

This work demonstrates batch fabricated high permeability magnetic shielding using permalloy electroplating techniques to simultaneously push the limits of minimum size, maximum shielding factor, and minimum cost. In particular, it presents the first experimental demonstration of electrodeposited high permeability, compact magnetic shielding at millimeter and sub-millimeter scales of fields exceeding 15 mT. Single layer shields of 300 μm permalloy with inner dimensions varying from 3 mm to 6.5 mm were fabricated on 3D printed polymer molds using a novel double-anode plating process to enable conformal deposition with uniform material properties. Multilayer shields of 10 μm permalloy and copper layers with inner dimensions of 1.5 mm to 6 mm were microfabricated using a bulk micromachining technique. The electroplated shields were designed with appropriate thickness to avoid saturation at the specified fields and with shapes to allow sophisticated interconnect extraction – a task that is challenging for conventional machining yet simple for microfabrication and electroplating. The size and shielding factor of these structures can enable compact integration of magnetic devices for AMO microsystems and other magnetic microelectronics, such as magnetic random-access memory and haptic actuators.

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