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Nature. 2002 May 23;417(6887):421-4.

Megagauss sensors.

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  • 1The James Franck Institute and Department of Physics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


Magnetic fields change the way that electrons move through solids. The nature of these changes reveals information about the electronic structure of a material and, in auspicious circumstances, can be harnessed for applications. The silver chalcogenides, Ag2Se and Ag2Te, are non-magnetic materials, but their electrical resistance can be made very sensitive to magnetic field by adding small amounts--just 1 part in 10,000--of excess silver. Here we show that the resistance of Ag2Se displays a large, nearly linear increase with applied magnetic field without saturation to the highest fields available, 600,000 gauss, more than a million times the Earth's magnetic field. These characteristics of large (thousands of per cent) and near-linear response over a large field range make the silver chalcogenides attractive as magnetic-field sensors, especially in physically tiny megagauss (10(6) G) pulsed magnets where large fields have been produced but accurate calibration has proved elusive. High-field studies at low temperatures reveal both oscillations in the magnetoresistance and a universal scaling form that point to a quantum origin for this material's unprecedented behaviour.

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