Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) Magnetometers

  • Candid ReigEmail author
  • María-Dolores Cubells-Beltrán
Part of the Smart Sensors, Measurement and Instrumentation book series (SSMI, volume 19)


Since its discovering in 1988, the Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) effect has been widely studied both from the theoretical and the applications points of view. Its rapid development was initially promoted by their extensive use in the read heads of the massive data magnetic storage systems, in the digital world. Since then, novel proposals as basic solid state magnetic sensors have been continuously appearing. Due to their high sensitivity, small size and compatibility with standard CMOS technologies, they have become the preferred choice in scenarios traditionally occupied by Hall sensors. In this chapter, we analyze the main properties of GMR sensors regarding their use as magnetometers. We will deal about the physical basis, the fabrication processes and the parameters constraining their response. We will also mention about some significant application, including developments at the system level.


Magnetic Layer Spin Valve Giant Magnetoresistance Free Layer Full Bridge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



At the personal level, we should give thanks to E. Figueras, J. Madrenas and A. Yúfera for their kindness regarding standard IC’s. Also thanks to A. Roldán and J. B. Roldán for their help in developing electrical models. The authors are permanently grateful for the very fruitful collaborations with the INESC-MN. Part of the work has been carried out under projects: HP2003/0123 (Ministry of Science and Technology, Spain), GV05/150 (Valencian Regional Government), ENE2008-06588-C04-04 (Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain and European Regional Development Fund), UV-INV-AE11-40892 (Universitat de València) and NGG-229 (2010).


  1. 1.
    M.N. Baibich, J.M. Broto, A. Fert, F.N. Vandau, F. Petroff, P. Eitenne, G. Creuzet, A. Friederich, J. Chazelas, Giant magnetoresistance of (001)Fe/(001)Cr magnetic superlattices. Phys. Rev. Lett. 61(21), 2472–2475 (1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    G. Binasch, P. Grunberg, F. Saurenbach, W. Zinn, Enhanced magnetoresistance in layered magnetic-structures with antiferromagnetic interlayer exchange. Phys Rev B 39(7), 4828–4830 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    S.M. Thompson, The discovery, development and future of gmr: the nobel prize 2007. J. Phys. D Appl. Phys. 41(9), 093001 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    U. Hartman. (Ed.), Magnetic Multilayers and Giant Magnetoresistance: Fundamentals and Industrial Applications. Surface Sciences (Springer, Berlin, 1999) Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    E Hirota, H Sakakima, K Inomata, Giant Magnetoresistance Devices. Surface Sciences (Springer, Berlin, 2002)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    S. Arana, N. Arana, R. Gracia, E. Castaño, High sensitivity linear position sensor developed using granular Ag-Co giant magnetoresistances. Sens. Actuators A—Phys 116–121 (2005)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    C. Reig, M. Cardoso, S.E. Mukhopadhyay, Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) Sensors. From Basis to State-of-the-Art Applications. Smart Sensors, Measurement and Instrumentation (Springer, Berlin, 2013)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    P.P. Freitas, R. Ferreira, S. Cardoso, F. Cardoso, Magnetoresistive sensors. J. Phys-Condens Matter 19(16) 21 (2007)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    C. Reig, D. Ramírez, F. Silva, J. Bernardo, P. Freitas, Design, fabrication, and analysis of a spin-valve based current sensor. Sens Actuators A-Phys 115(2–3), 259–266 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    A. Veloso, P.P. Freitas, P. Wei, N.P. Barradas, J.C. Soares, B. Almeida, J.B. Sousa, Magnetoresistance enhancement in specular, bottom-pinned, Mn83Ir17 spin valves with nano-oxide layers. Appl. Phys. Lett. 77(7), 1020–1022 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    C. Reig, D. Ramírez, H.H. Li, P.P. Freitas, Low-current sensing with specular spin valve structures. IEE Proc-Circ Devices Syst 152(4), 307–311 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    V. Peña, Z. Sefrioui, D. Arias, C. Leon, J. Santamaria, J.L. Martinez, S.G.E. te Velthuis, A. Hoffmann, Giant magnetoresistance in ferromagnet/superconductor superlattices. Phys Rev Lett 94(5) (2005)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    D. Pullini, D. Busquets, A. Ruotolo, G. Innocenti, V. Amigó, Insights into pulsed electrodeposition of gmr multilayered nanowires. J. Magn. Magn. Mater. 316(2), E242–E245 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    D. Leitao, R. Macedo, A. Silva, D. Hoang, D. MacLaren, S. McVitie, S. Cardoso, P. Freitas, Optimization of exposure parameters for lift-off process of sub-100 features using a negative tone electron beam resist, in Nanotechnology (IEEE-NANO), 2012 12th IEEE Conference on (2012), pp. 1–6Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    D.C. Leitao, J.P. Amaral, S. Cardoso, C. Reig, Giant magnetoresistance (GMR) sensors. From basis to state-of-the-art applications, ch. Microfabrication techniques. Smart Sensors, Measurement and Instrumentation [7] (2013), pp. 31–46Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Z. Marinho, S. Cardoso, R. Chaves, R. Ferreira, L.V. Melo, P.P. Freitas, Three dimensional magnetic flux concentrators with improved efficiency for magnetoresistive sensors, J. Appl. Phys. 109(7) (2011)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    R.C. Jaeger, Introduction to microelectronic fabrication. Modular series on solid state devices (Addison-Wesley, USA, 1988)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    J. Johnson, Thermal agitation of electricity in conductors. Nature 119, 50–51 (Jan–Jun 1927)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    H. Nyquist, Thermal agitation of electric charge in conductors. Phys Rev, 32, 110–113 (Jul 1928)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    F.N. Hooge, 1/f noise. Physica B & C 83(1), 14–23 (1976)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    C. Fermon, M. Pannetier-Lecoeur, Giant magnetoresistance (GMR) sensors. From basis to state-of-the-art applications, ch. Noise in GMR and TMR sensors. In Smart Sensors, Measurement and Instrumentation [7] (2013)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    M. Cubells-Beltrán, C. Reig, D. Ramírez, S. Cardoso, P. Freitas, Full Wheatstone bridge spin-valve based sensors for IC currents monitoring. IEEE Sens. J. 9(12), 1756–1762 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    P.P. Freitas, S. Cardoso, R. Ferreira, V.C. Martins, A. Guedes, F.A. Cardoso, J. Loureiro, R. Macedo, R.C. Chaves, J. Amaral, Optimization and integration of magnetoresistive sensors. Spin 01(01), 71–91 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    J. Gakkestad, P. Ohlckers, L. Halbo, Compensation of sensitivity shift in piezoresistive pressure sensors using linear voltage excitation. Sens. Actuators A-Phys 49(1–2), 11–15 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    D.R. Muñoz, J.S. Moreno, S.C. Berga, E.C. Montero, C.R. Escrivà, A.E.N. Anton, Temperature compensation of Wheatstone bridge magnetoresistive sensors based on generalized impedance converter with input reference current. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 77(10), 6 (2006)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    P. Freitas, F. Silva, N. Oliveira, L. Melo, L. Costa, N. Almeida, Spin valve sensors. Sens. Actuators, A 81(1–3), 2–8 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    A. De Marcellis, G. Ferri, A. D’Amico, C. Di Natale, E. Martinelli, A fully-analog lock-in amplifier with automatic phase alignment for accurate measurements of ppb gas concentrations. Sens. J. IEEE 12, 1377–1383 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    G.T. Ong, P.K. Chan, A power-aware chopper-stabilized instrumentation amplifier for resistive wheatstone bridge sensors. Instrum. Measure. IEEE Transac. 63, 2253–2263 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    C. Reig, M. Cubells-Beltrán, D. Ramírez, Giant Magnetoresistance: New Research, GMR Based Electrical Current Sensors (Nova Science Publishers, New York, 2009)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    M. Vopalensky, P. Ripka, J. Kubik, M. Tondra, Improved GMR sensor biasing design. Sens. Actuators A-Phys. 110(1–3), 254–258 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    A. De Marcellis, M.-D. Cubells-Beltrán, C. Reig, J. Madrenas, B. Zadov, E. Paperno, S. Cardoso, P. Freitas, Quasi-digital front-ends for current measurement in integrated circuits with giant magnetoresistance technology. Circ. Devices Syst., IET, 8, 291–300 (July 2014)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    W.S. Singh, B.P.C. Rao, S. Thirunavukkarasu, T. Jayakumar, Flexible GMR sensor array for magnetic flux leakage testing of steel track ropes. J. Sens. (2012)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    O. Postolache, A.L. Ribeiro, H. Geirinhas Ramos, GMR array uniform eddy current probe for defect detection in conductive specimens, Measurement 46, 4369–4378 (Dec 2013)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    D.A. Hall, R.S. Gaster, T. Lin, S.J. Osterfeld, S. Han, B. Murmann, S.X. Wang, GMR biosensor arrays: a system perspective. Biosens Bioelectron. 25, 2051–2057 (15 May 2010)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    P. Campiglio, L. Caruso, E. Paul, A. Demonti, L. Azizi-Rogeau, L. Parkkonen, C. Fermon, M. Pannetier-Lecoeur, GMR-based sensors arrays for biomagnetic source imaging applications. IEEE Transac. Magnet. 48, 3501–3504 (Nov 2012)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    D.A. Hall, R.S. Gaster, K.A.A. Makinwa, S.X. Wang, B. Murmann, A 256 pixel magnetoresistive biosensor microarray in 0.18 μm CMOS. IEEE J. Solid-State Circ. 48, 1290–1301 (May 2013)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    J. Kim, J. Lee, J. Jun, M. Le, C. Cho, Integration of hall and giant magnetoresistive sensor arrays for real-time 2-D visualization of magnetic field vectors. IEEE Transac. Magnet. 48, 3708–3711 (Nov 2012)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    G.Y. Tian, A. Al-Qubaa, J. Wilson, Design of an electromagnetic imaging system for weapon detection based on GMR sensor arrays. Sens. Actuators A-Phys. 174, 75–84 (Feb 2012)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    H. Liu, Y.F. Zhang, Y.W. Liu, M.H. Jin, Measurement errors in the scanning of resistive sensor arrays. Sens. Actuators A: Phys. 163(1), 198–204 (2010)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    R. Saxena, N. Saini, R. Bhan, Analysis of crosstalk in networked arrays of resistive sensors. Sens. J. IEEE 11, 920–924 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    R. Saxena, R. Bhan, A. Aggrawal, A new discrete circuit for readout of resistive sensor arrays. Sens. Actuators, A 149(1), 93–99 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    J. Brown, A universal low-field magnetic field sensor using GMR resistors on a semicustom BiCMOS array, ed. by G. Cameron, M. Hassoun, A. Jerdee, C. Melvin. Proceedings of the 39th Midwest Symposium on Circuits and Systems (1996), pp. 123–126Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    S.-J. Han, L. Xu, H. Yu, R.J. Wilson, R.L. White, N. Pourmand, S.X. Wang, CMOS integrated DNA Microarray based on GMR sensors, in 2006 International Electron Devices Meeting, International Electron Devices Meeting (2006), pp. 451–454Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    M.-D. Cubells-Beltrán, C. Reig, A.D. Marcellis, E. Figueras, A. Yúfera, B. Zadov, E. Paperno, S. Cardoso, P. Freitas, Monolithic integration of giant magnetoresistance (gmr) devices onto standard processed CMOS dies. Microelectron. J. 45(6), 702–707 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    F. Rothan, C. Condemine, B. Delaet, O. Redon, A. Giraud, A low power 16-channel fully integrated gmr-based current sensor, in ESSCIRC (ESSCIRC), 2012 Proceedings of the (2012), pp. 245–248Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    A. de Marcellis, C. Reig, M. Cubells, J. Madrenas, F. Cardoso, S. Cardoso, P. Freitas, Giant magnetoresistance (gmr) sensors for 0.35 μm cmos technology sub-ma current sensing. Proc. IEEE Sens. 2014, 444–447 (2014)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    NVE Corporation, GMR sensor catalog, (2012)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    K. Kapser, M. Weinberger, W. Granig, P. Slama, Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) Sensors. From Basis to State-of-the-Art Applications, ch. GMR Sensors in Automotive Applications. In Smart Sensors, Measurement and Instrumentation [7] (2013)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Sensitec, Gf705 magnetoresistive magnetic field sensor (2014)Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    N.A. Stutzke, S.E. Russek, D.P. Pappas, M. Tondra, Low-frequency noise measurements on commercial magnetoresistive magnetic field sensors. J. Appl. Phys. 97(10) (2005)Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    J.P. Sebastiá, J.A. Lluch, J.R.L. Vizcano, Signal conditioning for GMR magnetic sensors applied to traffic speed monitoring. Sens. Actuators A-Phys. 137(2), 230–235 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    J.P. Sebastiá, J.A. Lluch, J.R.L. Vizcano, J.S. Bellon, Vibration detector based on gmr sensors. IEEE Trans. Instrum. Meas. 58(3), 707–712 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    S. Arana, E. Castaño, F.J. Gracia, High temperature circular position sensor based on a giant magnetoresistance nanogranular agxco1−x alloy. IEEE Sens. J. 4(2), 221–225 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    A.J. López-Martn, A. Carlosena, Performance tradeoffs of three novel gmr contactless angle detectors. IEEE Sens. J. 9(3), 191–198 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    M.D. Michelena, R.P. del Real, H. Guerrero, Magnetic technologies for space: Cots sensors for flight applications and magnetic testing facilities for payloads. Sens. Lett. 5(1), 207–211 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    M.D. Michelena, W. Oelschlagel, I. Arruego, R.P. del Real, J.A.D. Mateos, J.M. Merayo, Magnetic giant magnetoresistance commercial off the shelf for space applications. J. Appl. Phys. 103(7), 07E912 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    M. Diaz-Michelena, Small magnetic sensors for space applications. Sensors 9(4), 2271–2288 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    J.P. Sebastiá, D.R. Munoz, P.J.P. de Freitas, W.J. Ku, A novel spin-valve bridge sensor for current sensing. IEEE Trans. Instrum. Meas. 53(3), 877–880 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    J. Pelegrí-Sebastiá, D. Ramírez-Muñoz, Safety device uses GMR sensor. EDN 48(15), 84–86 (2003)Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    J. Pelegrí, D. Ramírez, P.P. Freitas, Spin-valve current sensor for industrial applications. Sens. Actuators A-Phys. 105(2), 132–136 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    D.R. Muñoz, D.M. Pérez, J.S. Moreno, S.C. Berga, E.C. Montero, Design and experimental verification of a smart sensor to measure the energy and power consumption in a one-phase ac line. Measurement 42(3), 412–419 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    D. Ramírez, J. Pelegrí, GMR sensors manage batteries. Edn 44(18), 138 (1999)Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    M. Pannetier-Lecoeur, C. Fermon, A. de Vismes, E. Kerr, L. Vieux-Rochaz, Low noise magnetoresistive sensors for current measurement and compasses. J. Magn. Magn. Mater. 316(2), E246–E248 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    C. Reig, M.-D. Cubells-Beltrán, D. Ramírez, S. Cardoso, P. Freitas, Electrical isolators based on tunneling magnetoresistance technology. IEEE Trans. Magn. 44(11), 4011–4014 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    A. Roldán, C. Reig, M.-D. Cubells-Beltrán, J. Roldán, D. Ramírez, S. Cardoso, P. Freitas, Analytical compact modeling of GMR based current sensors: Application to power measurement at the IC level. Solid-State Electron. 54, 1606–1612 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    D.L. Graham, H.A. Ferreira, P.P. Freitas, Magnetoresistive-based biosensors and biochips. Trends Biotechnol. 22(9), 455–462 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    M. Mujika, S. Arana, E. Castaño, M. Tijero, R. Vilares, J.M. Ruano-López, A. Cruz, L. Sainz, J. Berganza, Microsystem for the immunomagnetic detection of escherichia coli o157: H7. Phys. Status Solidi A 205(6), 1478–1483 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    H. Ferreira, D. Graham, P. Parracho, V. Soares, P.P. Freitas, Flow velocity measurement in microchannels using magnetoresistive chips. Magnet. IEEE Transac. 40, 2652–2654 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    S. Mukhopadhyay, K. Chomsuwan, C. Gooneratne, S. Yamada, A novel needle-type sv-gmr sensor for biomedical applications. Sens. J. IEEE 7, 401–408 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    J. Amaral, S. Cardoso, P. Freitas, A. Sebastiao, Toward a system to measure action potential on mice brain slices with local magnetoresistive probes. J. Appl. Phys. 109, 07B308–07B308–3 (Apr 2011)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ValenciaValenciaSpain

Personalised recommendations