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Fun Facts

Nano and then some...
The critical conduction layers in some NVE spintronic GMR sensors are approximately 1.8 nanometers thick, which is five atomic layers and less than one-ten thousandth the thickness of tissue paper.

In for a penny, in for a pound...
The critical copper layers in NVE spintronic GMR devices are nearly a million times thinner than a penny. If a penny were rolled to the thickness of the copper layers, it would be about 10 miles in diameter and twice the area of Eden Prairie. Millions of GMR devices could be made with the copper in a pre-1982 penny (since 1982, pennies have been mostly zinc). That means NVE has not been significantly affected by increasing copper prices over the years.

And you thought aluminum foil was too thin...
Spin-dependent tunnel junctions use tunnel barriers made of oxidized aluminum or magnesium typically one to four nanometers thick. By comparison, household aluminum foil is around one-thousandth of an inch (25,000 nanometers) thick, and the aluminum lining of potato chip bags is 0.0002 inches (5,000 nanometers) thick.

Driving I-95...
A high-resolution transmission electron micrograph of a spin-dependent tunnel junction in an NVE paper [.pdf] was magnified approximately 300,000 times. A 12-inch wafer at that magnification would cover Rhode Island, and the tunnel barrier would be about a millimeter thick—less than plastic pavement markings.

Less board space...
Hundreds of NVE’s smallest packaged sensors—ultra-miniature 1.1 millimeter-square ULLGA packages—fit on a circuit board the size of a watch.

Less body space...
NVE medical sensors enable smaller medical devices. NVE AFL-Series Medical Device Sensor dice weigh about 1.5 milligrams—less than a typical mosquito tipping the scales at 2 milligrams and less than one-tenth the weight of a typical housefly [there is an image of an NVE sensor compared to a housefly in this DoD publication (.pdf)].

Less storage space...
NVE IsoLoop 610-5 monolithic couplers are approximately 0.2 cubic millimeters. An Altoids box could hold more than 500,000 neatly stacked (although we don’t recommend storing parts in Altoids boxes).

Don't drink that...
A coffee cup could hold approximately 700,000 of NVE’s smallest packaged parts, the 1.1 millimeter square ULLGA.

Worth their weight in gold...
NVE’s MSOP couplers, billed as the world’s smallest packaged couplers, weigh about 25 milligrams. The thousand-piece price for an IL610-1E on the NVE Online Store for 2015 was $2.45 (an excellent value for what it does). That works out to more than $3,000 per troy ounce, while gold was about $1,200 per troy ounce. A monolithic die, sold as the IL610-5, weighs about 0.5 milligrams, putting its value at around $150,000 per troy ounce.

Soup with those crackers?
IsoLoop spintronic digital signal couplers use very little power because they switch in just 2.5 nanoseconds using only one-third of a nanojoule of energy. The devices can switch over 100 million times with less than the nutritional energy in one cracker crumb (0.00001 Calories). Speaking of crumbs, NVE couplers are available in two-channel versions in packages as small as the MSOP (two bits are known as a “crumb” of data).

Battery life...
NVE’s BD027 low-voltage nanopower magnetic sensor for medical devices runs on a supply voltage as low as 0.9 volts, making it ideal for single battery-powered implantable medical devices. Typical power consumption is a remarkable 29 nanowatts at 0.9 volts. A size 312 hearing aid battery, which is approximately 0.3" diameter by 1/8" thick and rated at 160 milliamp-hours, would theoretically run the sensor for 200 years (“theoretically” because the battery has a three-year typical shelf life).

Shockingly good isolators...
IsoLoop “V-Series” couplers can transmit information between electronic systems 6000 volts apart and withstand the difference in potential. That is the equivalent of 5,600 D-cell batteries, which would make a flashlight more than 1,000 feet long.

“S” stands for speed...
IsoLoop 700S-Series spintronic couplers, billed as the world’s fastest MSOP isolators, can typically transmit 150 million bits of data per second. That is 3,000 times faster than a dial-up modem connection, 10 times faster than 15 megabit DSL, and fast enough to transmit the entire Bible as text in about a quarter of a second.

Faster than the speed of light?
No, but NVE’s lightning-fast IsoLoop 700S-Series couplers have a typical pulse-width distortion of 300 picoseconds, which is the time it takes light to travel about three inches. At one megabaud, the distortion is analogous to 1,000-foot wires matched within three inches.

A lot of nerve...
IsoLoop Isolators are more than 10,000 times faster than electrical synapses, the fastest known links between nerve cells (10 nanoseconds typical propagation delay for IL700-Series Isolators compared to 200 microseconds synaptic delay for an electrical synapse).

IsoLoops are forever...
Unlike optocouplers, IsoLoop Isolators have no wear out mechanism. Based on life tests, IsoLoops have a predicted mean time between failures of 44,000 years at 100°C, 570,000 years at 55°C, and nearly five million years at room temperature (25°C). For details and test reports, contact our Isolator Application Desk. According to a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, in the next million years the San Francisco Peninsula will split into a fork and offset more than 15 miles, but it’s good to know our isolators will still be working.

REALLY rugged...
GMR material is inherently radiation hard because electron spin is less susceptible to disruption by ionizing radiation than electron charge. According to a NASA Proposal Summary, customers have tested the basic [NVE coupler] sense element to a dose rate of 1.1 terarad per second without failure. That rate would produce a fatal X-ray dose of 1,000 rad in less than a nanosecond.

Where’s my watch?
One of the advantages of NVE spintronic medical sensors is that they are not damaged by extremely large magnetic fields such as those generated in MRI procedures. The magnets in an MRI machine are in the range of 5,000 to 20,000 Gauss. Watches, vacuum cleaners, oxygen tanks, stretchers, and other objects have been pulled into the machines. The fields are so strong that large objects sometimes have to be pulled out with a winch, but NVE sensors are not damaged.

At unsafe speed...
NVE GT-Sensor™ spintronic rotational sensors are specified to 10,000 pulses per second. That’s fast enough to precisely measure wheel speeds up to 10,000 rpm assuming a typical ABS sensor ring with 60 teeth. That would propel a Toyota Camry with P205/65 R15 tires to 757 mph, which is past the sound barrier at 0°C (we’re pretty sure sonic booms would be illegal on the freeway).

No “dishwater hands...”
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has reported spintronic sensors can be used to detect concentrations as low as about 10 femtoMoles [cited in this NVE paper (.pdf)]. That is about one part in seven trillion for an aqueous protein solution. One part in seven trillion is one drop of detergent in enough dishwater to fill a string of railroad tank cars stretching from Eden Prairie to Mankato, Minn.

Better than a compass...
NVE has demonstrated SDT-based multi-axis magnetometers with sensitivity of approximately 0.0001 Gauss or 5,000 times less than the earth’s field. This is sensitive enough to detect the decrease in the earth’s field over the years as the magnetic north pole slowly drifts farther from Eden Prairie. According to NASA, the north and south magnetic poles have completely switched in the past 780,000 years.

Careful with floppy disks...
NVE manufacturing equipment uses powerful electromagnets to set electron spin. One of those electromagnets uses up to 150 Amperes; more than the entire service into many homes.