A gas sensor is described which incorporates a sensor stack comprising a first film layer of a ferromagnetic material, a spacer layer, and a second film layer of the ferromagnetic material. The first film layer is fabricated so that it exhibits a dependence of its magnetic anisotropy direction on the presence of a gas, That is, the orientation of the easy axis of magnetization will flip from out-of-plane to in-plane when the gas to be detected is present in sufficient concentration. By monitoring the change in resistance of the sensor stack when the orientation of the first layer's magnetization changes, and correlating that change with temperature one can determine both the identity and relative concentration of the detected gas. In one embodiment the stack sensor comprises a top ferromagnetic layer two mono layers thick of cobalt deposited upon a spacer layer of ruthenium, which in turn has a second layer of cobalt disposed on its other side, this second cobalt layer in contact with a programmable heater chip.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT
The invention described and claimed herein was made in part utilizing funds supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. The government has certain rights in this invention.