Highly sensitive parylene membrane-based ac-calorimeter for small mass magnetic samples

Lopeandia, A. F.; André, E.; Garden, J.-L.; Givord, D.; Bourgeois, O.
May 2010
Review of Scientific Instruments;May2010, Vol. 81 Issue 5, p053901
Academic Journal
We report the microfabrication and operation of a highly sensitive ac-calorimeter designed to characterize small mass magnetic systems operating at very low frequencies (from 0.1 to 5 Hz) in a temperature range from 20 to 300 K. The calorimetric cell is built in the center of a 500 nm thick polymeric membrane of parylene C held up by a Cu frame. On both sides of the membrane defining a three layer structure, electrical leads, heater, and thermometer are deposited as thin film layers of NbNx, with different nitrogen contents, taking benefit of the poor thermal conductance of niobium nitride to thermally isolate the system. This suspended structure ensures very low heat capacity addenda with values in the μJ/K over the 1 mm2 area of the measurement cell. The structuring of the membrane along with suspending of the sensing part only by the parylene bridges leads to a highly reduced thermal link. The calorimeter has been characterized as a function of frequency, temperature, and magnetic field. The thermal link measured is really small reaching values well below 10-8 W/K at 50 K. With these characteristics the frequency of adiabaticity is typically around few hertz and energy exchanges as small as 1 pJ can be detected. Measurements have been performed on Co/Au thin films and on the GdAl2 microcrystal where the ferromagnetic phase transition is clearly evidenced.


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