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A digitally configurable measurement platform using audio cards for high-resolution electronic transport studies

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3 Author(s)
Gopman, D.B. ; Department of Physics, New York University, New York, New York 10003, USA ; Bedau, D. ; Kent, A.D.

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We report on a software-defined digitally configurable measurement platform for determining electronic transport properties in nanostructures with small readout signals. By using a high-resolution audio analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog converter in a digitally compensated bridge configuration we significantly increase the measurement speed compared to established techniques and simultaneously acquire large and small signal characteristics. We characterize the performance (16 bit resolution, 100 dB dynamic range at 192 kS/s) and demonstrate the application of this measurement platform for studying the transport properties of spin-valve nanopillars, a two-terminal device that exhibits giant magnetoresistance and whose resistance can be switched between two levels by applied magnetic fields and by currents applied by the audio card. The high resolution and fast sampling capability permits rapid acquisition of deep statistics on the switching of a spin-valve nanopillar and reduces the time to acquire the basic properties of the device – a state-diagram showing the magnetic configurations as function of applied current and magnetic field – by orders of magnitude.

Published in:

Review of Scientific Instruments  (Volume:83 ,  Issue: 5 )

Date of Publication:

May 2012

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