Researchers develop high accuracy measuring system

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A research team has developed a measuring system that can locate the weakest electrical and magnetic fields to an accuracy of a few hundredths of a millimetre.

The project has been carried out by electronics specialist, the Fraunhofer Research Institution in collaboration with Continental and Infineon Technologies. The near field scanner can scan not only individual chips and processors, but also complete laptops, cell phones or aircraft control units and can reveal which types of field the test object is radiating. Fraunhofer's Thomas Mager, explained the reasoning behind the research. "Circuits are becoming more and more susceptible with each generation." He noted, "Only a few years ago, it still took several volts to destabilise processors. Today, a few hundred millivolts are sometimes enough to disrupt millions of transistors." Mager added that the institute is also working with its French project partner CEA-Leti on a function that applies targeted electromagnetic fields to a test object. "In this way," he commented, "we can test for areas that respond sensitively to external fields." According to Mager, this makes the system useful for developers of smart cards as the near field scanner provides time and space resolved images of the radiated fields of the card, allowing their weak points to be identified. This would help card developers to protect their products against fraud.