Magneto-optical visualization of magnetic fields


Our highly sensitive magneto-optical sensors are the basis for the visualization of magnetic fields and are available in sizes up to 3 inches. Applications for the sensors can be found in forensics and quality control of magnetic materials.



Physical Background

The magneto-optic principle is based on the Faraday effect. It describes the rotation of the polarization plane of linearly polarized light when passing through a transparent medium. With a closer look, linearly polarized light consists of superposition of a left and a right-circularly polarized wave with same frequency and phase. When light is passing a magneto-optical medium on which a magnetic field is applied parallel to the direction of the light, it splits into two oppositely rotating circularly polarized waves.

For the two partial waves, it causes phase shifting, because they have different refractive indices and different speeds. Their frequency remains the same. This shift results in the rotation of the polarization plane. The different angles of rotation depending on the local magnetic field strength result in contrast-differences which can be evaluated visually. Thus, a direct real-time visualization of quasi-static magnetic fields over the entire sensor surface is achieved.


Schematic representation of the Faraday rotation in the MO sensor

Faraday rotation in the MO sensor

Schematic representation of the Faraday rotation in the MO sensor.

Basic physical principle of the Faraday rotation

Basic physical principle of the Faraday rotation


  • d = length of the light path through the substrate
  • B = magnetic flux density
  • V = Verdet constant
  • ß = angle of rotation


Sensor production

To produce the sensors, Bismuth substituted Yttrium Iron garnet layers are deposited on a substrate by liquid phase epitaxy. To get a best magneto-optical sensor out of the grown garnet layers these layers additional processes are necessary:


Sensor Aufbau

  • Surface preparation by polishing process
  • Sensor dicing for application-specific geometrie
  • Mirroring of sensor surface
  • Sensor processing by a hard coating to prevent mechanical abrasion of the sensor


MO-Sensor Types A & B

Type: A

  • Field range: 0.05 ... 2 kA / m
  • Applications: magnetic stripe card, hard magnetic ink, steel inspection, audio tapes

Type: B
  • Field range: 0.05 ... 30 kA / m
  • Applications: magnetic stripe card, polymer bound magnets, audio tapes

MO-Sensor Types C & D

Type: C

  • Field range: 0.05 ... 130 kA / m
  • Applications: Encoder, stray fields of permanent magnets and polymer

Type: D
  • Field range: 0.03 ... 6 kA / m (especially for bias)
  • Applications: Magnetic bias fields and steels



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