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A flexible giant magnetoresistive device for sensing strain direction


Miniaturized strain sensors are of value in a variety of areas, including wearable devices and structural health monitoring. Strain gauges based on magnetoresistance effects have previously been developed and offer potential advantages over conventional devices. However, these approaches have so far focused on sensing only the magnitude of the strain. Here, we show that a flexible giant magnetoresistive device can be used to detect the direction of strain in a material. Our trilayer devices, which are fabricated on a flexible substrate, consist of a strain-sensitive ferromagnetic cobalt layer and a strain-insensitive ferromagnetic permalloy (NiFe) layer, separated by a non-magnetic copper layer. We also show that the strain-sensitive and strain-insensitive layers can be made from a single ferromagnetic material by engineering the magnetoelastic properties of cobalt layers. Our integration of spintronics and flexible electronics could lead to the development of a flexible sensor sheet capable of mapping local strain directions.

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Fig. 1: Method of detecting strain direction.
Fig. 2: Properties of a standard Co/Cu/Co flexible GMR device.
Fig. 3: Strain direction detection using a flexible Co/Cu/NiFe GMR device.
Fig. 4: Magnetoelastic and structural properties of single Co layers.
Fig. 5: Strain direction detection using a flexible Co/Cu/Co GMR device with a strain-insensitive Co layer.


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The authors thank T. Koyama, R. Asai, K. Ochi, H. Matsumoto, T. Namazu, T. Takenobu, A. Tsukazaki, K. Toba, S. Ono for their technical help. This work was partly supported by JSPS KAKENHI (grants nos. 25220604, 17J03125 and 15H05702) and Spintronics Research Network of Japan. Part of the work was performed using facilities of the Cryogenic Research Center at the University of Tokyo.

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D.C. planned and supervised the study. S.O. and D.C. set up the measurement apparatus. S.O. fabricated devices, carried out transport measurements, analysed the data and performed simulations. A.A. obtained the STEM images and EDX line profile. D.C. wrote the manuscript with input from S.O. and A.A. All authors discussed the results.

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Correspondence to Daichi Chiba.

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Supplementary Sections 1–5 and Supplementary Figures 1–7.

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Ota, S., Ando, A. & Chiba, D. A flexible giant magnetoresistive device for sensing strain direction. Nat Electron 1, 124–129 (2018).

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