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    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    Quantum Sensors: Pioneering Breakthroughs in Technology

    ByThemba Hadebe

    Nov 16, 2023
    Quantum Sensors: Pioneering Breakthroughs in Technology

    Tunneling magneto resistance (TMR) sensors have taken the automotive and wearables industry by storm, revolutionizing the way we perceive sensor technology. By harnessing the power of quantum phenomena, these tiny sensors have outperformed traditional sensors like Hall effect sensors, propelling them to the forefront of innovation in the emerging quantum sensor market.

    Unlike other quantum technologies that rely on complex effects such as superposition and entanglement, TMR sensors utilize quantum tunneling to make highly sensitive measurements of magnetic fields. They consist of thin layers of ferromagnet and nanometer-thick insulator, where the probability of electrons tunneling through these layers is influenced by external magnetic and electric fields. The result is a significant improvement in sensitivity, allowing TMR sensors to detect magnetic fields hundreds of times smaller than their classical counterparts.

    The potential for disruption in the sensor market extends beyond TMR sensors. Many other quantum sensing technologies are in development, including magnetic field sensors, clocks, gravimeters, gyroscopes, and photodetectors. These technologies offer the possibility of exponential increases in sensitivity, which poses a significant challenge to the existing sensor market.

    While sensitivity is crucial, it is not the only factor that determines the success of a sensor. The size, weight, power, and cost (SWAP-C) of a sensor are equally important. TMR sensors have an advantage in this aspect, as their architecture allows for highly optimized SWAP-C. They can be manufactured using standard semiconductor foundries, making them easily scalable and cost-effective. However, the next generation of quantum sensors, which rely on more complex quantum effects, face significant challenges in achieving similar levels of SWAP-C optimization.

    One of the key advantages of TMR sensors is their diverse range of applications. They can be used for wake-up, angle and position sensing, and remote current sensing, making them appealing to various industries. Wearable devices, medical devices, electric vehicles, solar energy systems, wind turbines, robotics, and factory optimization are just a few examples of where TMR sensors find their utility. This versatility enables TMR sensors to scale up production by targeting high-value industries and finding early adopters.

    The future of quantum sensors lies in their ability to address a wide range of applications across different industries. Vertical agnosticism, where a sensor can be used in various contexts, is predicted to be a key factor in the success of complex quantum devices such as atomic clocks and quantum gyroscopes. These devices are already showing signs of adoption in aerospace, automotive, finance, and consumer electronics markets, paving the way for their long-term commercial viability.

    TMR sensors have proven to be a quantum success story, showcasing the commercial value that can be derived from leveraging quantum effects. However, it is essential to move beyond the mere marketing hype of “quantum” and focus on developing solutions that offer a comprehensive package of qualities. This requires a holistic approach that considers sensitivity, SWAP-C optimization, and diverse applications.

    To explore the commercial outlook for quantum sensors and gain valuable market insights, refer to IDTechEx’s report on the Quantum Sensor Market, “Quantum Sensors Market 2024-2044”. For more information about this report, visit [IDTechEx Quantum Sensors](https://www.idtechex.com/quantumsensors). Discover additional research on related topics such as Quantum Computers, Wearable Technology, and Electric Vehicles at [IDTechEx Research](https://www.idtechex.com/research).

    (Source: IDTechEx)