(19)
(11)EP 2 963 435 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
25.01.2017 Bulletin 2017/04

(21)Application number: 14175285.7

(22)Date of filing:  01.07.2014
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G01R 33/06  (2006.01)

(54)

Differential lateral magnetic field sensor system with offset cancelling and implemented using silicon-on-insulator technology

Differenzielles seitliches Magnetfeldsensorsystem mit Versatzunterdrückung und unter Umsetzung mit Silicium-auf-Isolator-Technologie

Système de capteur de champ magnétique latéral différentiel avec annulation de décalage et mis en oeuvre à l'aide de la technologie silicium sur isolant


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(43)Date of publication of application:
06.01.2016 Bulletin 2016/01

(73)Proprietor: NXP B.V.
5656 AG Eindhoven (NL)

(72)Inventors:
  • Zieren, Victor
    5656 AG Eindhoven (NL)
  • Wunnicke, Olaf
    5656 AG Eindhoven (NL)
  • Reimann, Klaus
    5656 AG Eindhoven (NL)

(74)Representative: Schwarzweller, Thomas et al
NXP Semiconductors Germany GmbH Stresemannallee 101
22529 Hamburg
22529 Hamburg (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A2-03/036733
US-A- 5 323 050
US-A1- 2009 256 559
US-A1- 2013 080 087
US-A1- 2013 342 194
US-A- 4 829 352
US-A1- 2005 230 770
US-A1- 2013 015 853
US-A1- 2013 338 956
US-A1- 2014 175 528
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    TECHNICAL AREA OF THE INVENTION



    [0001] The present invention relates to differential lateral magnetic field sensor systems, which are implemented using silicon-on-insulator technology and in which offset cancelling of differential semiconductor structures in magnetic field sensors arranged close to each other is realized.

    BACKGROUND



    [0002] Magnetic sensor systems are increasingly important in various industries. For instance in the automotive industry, various sensor systems, such as parking sensors, angular sensors e.g. in throttle valves, ABS (Automatic Braking System) sensors and tire pressure sensors are found in modem vehicles for improving comfort and safety. Magnetic sensor systems are particularly important in automotive applications, because magnetic fields penetrate easily through most materials. In addition, magnetic sensors are highly insensitive to dirt, unlike for example optical sensors.

    [0003] Several different magnetic sensor technologies are currently available, such as sensors based on the Hall effect, lateral magnetic field sensors based on silicon and constructed on the basis of bipolar lateral magnetoresistors (LMRs), lateral magnetotransistors (LMTs), and lateral magnetodiodes (LMDs) as well as sensors based on the magnetoresistive effect, such as anisotropic magnetoresistive (AMR) and giant magnetoresistive (GMR) sensors. Hall effect based sensors and the bipolar lateral magneto-resistors, transistors and diodes, i.e. LMRs, LMTs and LMDs, rely on the Lorentz force caused by the magnetic flux acting on moving charge carriers. The sensing principle of AMR and GMR sensor systems is based on the physical phenomenon that the electric resistance of a ferromagnetic material depends on the angle between the magnetization and the direction of the electric current within an AMR or GMR sensing element.

    [0004] Silicon-based magnetic sensors which are sensitive for magnetic field (H) or flux-density (B) components in the plane of a chip can be constructed in plural ways, for example as bipolar magnetoresistors (MRs), magnetotransistors (MTs) and magnetidiodes (MDs), each comprising two or more current-collecting contacts (collectors) and at least one current-emitting emitting contact (emitter) arranged in between the collectors. MTs have a base contact in addition to the emitter and collector contacts and have at least one pn-junction between an emitter and a collector. MDs also have at least one pn-junction between an emitter and a collector, like MTs, but do not have a base contact, unlike MTs. MRs have no pn-junction between an emitter and a collector.

    [0005] On SOI (silicon on oxide) substrates, the contact structures are made as vertical or lateral magnetotransistors (VMTs or LMTs, respectively), lateral magnetodiodes (LMDs) or lateral magnetoresistors (LMRs). Using SOI substrates has the advantage of preventing leakage currents that would be present in such sensors when made in bulk CMOS (complementary-symmetry metal-oxide-semiconductor) process technology.

    [0006] The operation of lateral magneto (transistor, resistor and diode) sensors relies on the substantially symmetric geometry of the emitter-collector-contact structure and the fact that the emitter current is split in two components having opposite directions in the space between the collectors, and is influenced by the magnetic flux density (B) through the Lorentz force acting on the two split current portions in two opposite directions. Accordingly, the differential collector current is a measure for the magnetic flux density (B). The splitting of the emitter current suffers from an imbalance in the resulting collector currents even when the magnetic flux density B is zero. This difference of collector currents is referred as the "offset" of the sensor. Even emitter-collector-contact structures with substantially perfect geometric symmetry design suffer from offset (and offset spread).

    [0007] One possible cause for the offset may be the presence of surface (shallow) trench isolation areas (called STI) between p+ and n+ areas used for collector and emitter contact structures (or for the contact areas associated with these functions). The strain and stress (and charged) interface states associated with these STI areas may be a source of the imbalance between the collector currents due to the statistical nature of the imperfections induced by the STI processing, whereby these imperfections are not all the same and are not equally or symmetrically distributed in the STI areas.

    [0008] Other causes of the offset may be related to mask misalignment, to non-uniform doping distributions, to mechanical stresses and to thermal gradients. Since it is very difficult to fabricate devices that are insensitive to all these causes, one has to do anything possible to make the devices symmetrical, in layout, in doping distribution, etc. The doping distribution in a standard process is not always ideal. For example, implantation is often performed under a tilt angle of the substrate. The doping symmetry may be improved by making such implantation four times (quad), whereby each time the substrate is rotated by 90 degrees. However, if this is not possible, a systematic offset remains.

    [0009] WO 03/036733 describes an arrangement of at least two vertical Hall sensors that may be used with the spinning current technique. US 2013/0342194 describes first and second vertical Hall sensor effect regions and first and second layers that insulate the Hall sensor effect regions from a bulk of the semiconductor substrate. US 2013/0338956 describes a governing circuit for a magneto-transistor having a first and second collector.

    [0010] The object of the present invention is to provide silicon, preferably SOI, -based lateral magnetic field sensor systems, which have substantially symmetrically layouted emitter-collector-structures and involve a splitting of the emitter current in collector-related components of mutually opposite directions, in which the offset and eventually the offset of the differential current spread is reduced or even cancelled to zero.

    DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION



    [0011] The object is solved, according to a first aspect, by a differential magnetic field sensor system according to the independent claim 1 and, according to a second aspect, by a two-dimensional array arrangement of magnetic field sensors according to the independent claim 15. Preferred embodiments are subject matter of the dependent claims.

    [0012] According to the first aspect of the invention, there is provided a differential magnetic field sensor system, which comprises a first, a second and a third magnetic field sensor, each of which is layouted substantially identically and comprises a, preferably silicon-on-insulator (SOI), surface layer portion provided as a surface portion on a, preferably SOI, wafer. Each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor has a surface, on and/or in which the following is arranged: a central emitter structure formed substantially mirror symmetrical with respect to a symmetry plane that is substantially perpendicular to the surface, and a first and a second collector structure, each of which is arranged spaced apart from the emitter structure and which are arranged on opposite sides of the symmetry plane so as to be substantially mirror images of each other. The first magnetic field sensor is operated double-sided in that its first collector structure and its emitter structure are externally connected via a first read-out circuitry and its second collector structure and its emitter structure are externally connected via a second read-out circuitry. The second magnetic field sensor is operated single-sided in that its first collector structure and its emitter structure are externally connected via a third read-out circuitry. And the third magnetic field sensor is operated single-sided in that its second collector structure and its emitter structure are externally connected via a fourth read-out circuitry. The first, the second and the third magnetic field sensor may be externally connected to form a Wheatstone bridge type circuitry, in which a first and a second voltage divider is provided and is coupled between a, for example positive, supply voltage level and a common ground voltage level. The first voltage divider may comprise a structure comprising the first collector structure and the emitter structure of the second magnetic field sensor, and a structure comprising the first collector structure and the emitter structure of the first magnetic field sensor. The second voltage divider may comprise a structure comprising the second collector structure and the emitter structure of the third magnetic field sensor, and a structure comprising the second collector structure and the emitter structure of the first magnetic field sensor. Such a Wheatstone bridge type circuitry provides for an intrinsic compensation also of a potential resistor imbalance of the space between the first collector and the emitter and the space between the second collector and the emitter.

    [0013] In the sensor system according to the first aspect, due to the presence of three substantially identically layouted structures, systematic contributions to the offset, such as mask misalignment and doping gradients are effectively mutually cancelled by providing the second and the third magnetic field sensors, each of which is operated single-sided, in addition to the first magnetic field sensor, which is operated double-sided.

    [0014] According to the second aspect of the invention, there is provided a two-dimensional magnetic field sensor array arrangement comprising an M × N array of magnetic field sensors, the array having M columns and N rows, wherein the M columns are numbered by an integer index i which can assume any value from 1 to M, the N rows are numbered by an integer index j which can assume any value from 1 to N, and wherein M and N are integers that are greater than or equal to 3. Each magnetic field sensor comprises a, perferably silicon-on-insulator (SOI), surface layer portion and has a surface, on and/or in which the following is arranged: a central emitter structure formed substantially mirror symmetrical with respect to a symmetry plane that is substantially perpendicular to the surface, and a first and a second collector structure, each of which is arranged spaced apart from the emitter structure and which are arranged on opposite sides of the symmetry plane so as to be substantially mirror images of each other. Each magnetic field sensor (i, j) is referenced by the integer index i indicating the column to which the sensor belongs and by the integer index j indicating the row to which the sensor belongs. The magnetic field sensor array arrangement further comprises external connection circuitry configured such that triplets of magnetic field sensors are formed according to one of the following triplet configurations:
    1. (a) (i, j), (i, j+1) and (i, j+2) for any i in the range from 1 to M and any j in the range from 1 to N-2,
    2. (b) (i, j), (i+1, j) and (i+2, j) for any i in the range from 1 to M-2 and any j in the range from 1 to N,
    3. (c) (i, j), (i+1, j+1) and (i+2, j+2) for any i in the range from 1 to M-2 and any j in the range from 1 to N-2,
    4. (d) (i, j), (i-1, j+1) and (i-2, j+2) for any i in the range from 3 to M and any j in the range from 1 to N-2, and
    5. (e) a random selection of three magnetic field sensors out of all available magnetic field sensors (i, j) for any i in the range from 1 to M and any j in the range from 1 to N.


    [0015] Each of the triplet configurations (a) through (e) is configured to form a differential magnetic field sensor system according to the first aspect of the invention.

    [0016] In the two-dimensional array arrangement according to the second aspect, the formation of triplet configurations yields the same advantage as does the sensor system according to the first aspect, viz. a mutual cancellation of systematic offset. The provision of multitudes of triplet configurations renders an averaging effect with respect to random causes of offset, which leads to a an additional reduction also of random offset.

    FURTHER ADVANTAGES



    [0017] Each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor has a lateral dimension. In the sensor system, the distance between the first and the second magnetic field sensor and the distance between the first and the third magnetic field sensor may be less than ten times, preferably less than five times and more preferably less than two times the lateral dimension. In other words, the first, second and third magnetic field sensor may be in close vicinity to each other. This leads to even a better mutual cancellation of the stated causes of systematic offset.

    [0018] In each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor, the emitter structure is formed by a first portion emitter structure and a second portion emitter structure, wherein the first portion and the second portion emitter structure are arranged adjacent to each other, on opposite sides of the symmetry plane and so as to be substantially mirror images of one another. This arrangement of a dual emitter structure involves a better degree of symmetry, and accordingly a lower offset, as compared to the single emitter structure.

    [0019] Each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor may be implemented as a lateral magneto-resistor (LMR), in which the emitter structure and the first and the second collector structure are formed as n+-type structures on and/or in the surface of an n-type well. In an LMR, the first, the second, the third and the fourth read-out circuitry may be one of a resistor read-out, a voltage read-out or a current read-out circuitry.

    [0020] Alternatively, each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor may be implemented as a lateral magneto-transistor (LMT), in which the emitter structure and the first and the second collector structure are formed as n+-type structures on and/or in the surface of a p-type well. In an LMT, the first, the second, the third and the fourth read-out circuitry may be a current read-out circuitry.

    [0021] Still alternatively, each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor may be implemented as a lateral magneto-diode (LMD), in which one of the following configurations is implemented:
    1. (1) the emitter structure is formed as an n+-type structure and the first and the second collector structure are formed as p+-type structures, all on and/or in the surface of an n-type well,
    2. (2) the emitter structure is formed as a p+-type structure and the first and the second collector structure are formed as n+-type structures, all on and/or in the surface of an n-type well,
    3. (3) the emitter structure is formed as an n+-type structure and the first and the second collector structure are formed as p+-type structures, all on and/or in the surface of a p-type well, or
    4. (4) the emitter structure is formed as an p+-type structure and the first and the second collector structure are formed as n+-type structures, all on and/or in the surface of a p-type well.


    [0022] In an LMD, the first, the second, the third and the fourth read-out circuitry may be one of a resistor read-out, a voltage read-out or a current read-out circuitry.

    [0023] In the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry, in the first voltage divider, the first collector structure of the second magnetic field sensor may be coupled to the supply voltage level, the emitter structure of the second magnetic field sensor may be coupled to the first collector structure of the first magnetic field sensor and the emitter structure of the first magnetic field sensor may be coupled to the common ground voltage level. And in the second voltage divider, the second collector structure of the third magnetic field sensor may be coupled to the supply voltage level, the emitter structure of the third magnetic field sensor may be coupled to the second collector structure of the first magnetic field sensor. The sensor system may further comprise a differential voltage output terminal comprising a first and a second voltage output terminal, wherein the first voltage output terminal may be coupled to a first node in the connection between the emitter structure of the second magnetic field sensor and the first collector structure of the first magnetic field sensor, and the second voltage output terminal may be coupled to a second node in the connection between the emitter structure of the third magnetic field sensor and the second collector structure of the first magnetic field sensor. Such Wheatstone bridge type circuitry provides for an effective reduction of the systematic offset.

    [0024] An even better reduction of offset is achieved, when the sensor system involving the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry further comprises a first 1-to-2 multiplexer and a second 1-to-2 multiplexer, provided for alternatively switching between connection states in the Wheatstone bridge.

    [0025] The first 1-to-2 multiplexer may have a first and a second input terminal and a first to fourth output terminal, and may be adapted to be switchable into an "a" state and alternatively into a "b" state. In the "a" state, the first output terminal may be connected to the first input terminal and the third output terminal may be connected to the second input terminal, and in the "b" state, the second output terminal may be connected to the first input terminal and the fourth output terminal may be connected to the second input terminal. Further, the first input terminal may be coupled to the second input terminal and to the supply voltage level, the first output terminal may be connected to the second collector structure of the third magnetic field sensor, the second output terminal may be connected to the first collector structure of the third magnetic field sensor, the third output terminal may be connected to the first collector structure of the second magnetic field sensor, and the fourth output terminal may connected to the second collector structure of the second magnetic field sensor.

    [0026] Furthermore, the second 1-to-2 multiplexer may have a first and a second input terminal and a first to fourth output terminal, and may adapted to be switchable into an "a" state and alternatively into a "b" state. In the "a" state, the second output terminal may be connected to the first input terminal and the fourth output terminal may be connected to the second input terminal, while in the "b" state, the first output terminal may be connected to the first input terminal and the third output terminal may be connected to the second input terminal. Further, the first input terminal may be coupled to the second emitter structure of the first magnetic field sensor and to the second voltage output terminal of the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry, the second input terminal may be coupled to the first emitter structure of the first magnetic field sensor and to the first voltage output terminal of the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry, the first output terminal may be connected with the fourth output terminal and coupled to the emitter structure of the second magnetic field sensor, and the second output terminal may be connected with the third output terminal and coupled to the emitter structure of the third magnetic field sensor.

    [0027] Alternatively or in addition to the afore-mentioned measures, another reduction of offset is achieved, when the sensor system involving the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry may further comprise external switching circuitry adapted to cyclically switch the magnetic field sensor system from a first state to a second state, from the second state to a third state, from the third state to the first state, and so on. In the first state, the first magnetic field sensor may be operated double-sided via its first collector structure to its emitter structure and via its second collector structure to its emitter structure, the second magnetic field sensor may be operated single-sided via its first collector structure to its emitter structure, and the third magnetic field sensor may be operated single-sided via its second collector structure to its emitter structure. In the second state, the first magnetic field sensor of the first state has become the third magnetic field sensor, the second magnetic field sensor of the first state has become the first magnetic field sensor and the third magnetic field sensor of the first state has become the second magnetic field sensor. In the third state, the first magnetic field sensor of the first state has become the second magnetic field sensor, the second magnetic field sensor of the first state has become the third magnetic field sensor and the third magnetic field sensor of the first state has become the first magnetic field sensor. In summary, when going from the first state via the second state to the third state, the three magnetic field sensors changes its role, i.e. being one of the first to third magnetic field sensor of the sensor system, in a cyclical manner.

    [0028] The offset compensation circuitry involving a Wheatstone bridge type circuitry can be used in connection with LMRs and LMDs, but not in connection with LMTs. Accordingly, a compensation circuitry is needed that can be used in connection with LMTs.

    [0029] As concerns the second aspect of the invention, the two-dimensional magnetic field sensor array arrangement may further comprise external connection circuitry and clock circuitry defining clock cycles starting at time instances t, t+Δt, t+2Δt, and so on, such that each triplet configuration of magnetic field sensors is sequentially stepped within the array arrangement according one of the following positional schemes:
    1. (1) position at time instance t: (i, j),
      position at time instance t+Δt: (i+1, j) or (i-1, j), and
      position at time instance t+2Δt: (i+2, j) or (i-2, j);
    2. (2) position at time instance t: (i, j),
      position at time instance t+Δt: (i, j+1) or (i, j-1), and
      position at time instance t+2Δt: (i, j+2) or (i, j-2);
    3. (3) position at time instance t: (i, j),
      position at time instance t+Δt: (i+1, j+1) or (i-1, j-1), and
      position at time instance t+2Δt: (i+2, j+2) or (i-2, j-2); and
    4. (4) position at time instance t: (i, j),
      position at time instance t+Δt: (i+1, j-1) or (i-1, j+1), and
      position at time instance t+2Δt: (i+2, j-2) or (i-2, j+2);


    [0030] The stated sequential positions (i, j) refer to the position in the array arrangement of the first magnetic field sensor of the triplet configuration, while the second and the third magnetic field sensor of the triplet configuration are located at respective fixed relative positions with respect to the first magnetic field sensor.

    [0031] Further embodiments are described in the following and will become apparent for those skilled in the art upon examination of the following detailed description and the appended drawings.

    SHORT DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0032] Various aspects, features and advantages of different embodiments of the invention will become apparent from the following specifications, the appended drawings and the appended claims.

    Fig. 1a shows a schematic cross section of a first embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto resistor for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 1b shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 1a.

    Fig. 2a shows a schematic cross section of a second embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto resistor for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 2b shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 2a.

    Fig. 3a shows a first embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, formed by three instances of an embodiment of the lateral magneto resistor of Figures 1a and 1b, each of which is shown in a cross sectional view.

    Fig. 3b shows a second embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, formed by three instances of an embodiment of the lateral magneto resistor of Figures 1a and 1b, each of which is shown in a cross sectional view.

    Fig. 4a shows a schematic circuit diagram of an embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, implemented in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type offset compensation circuitry using three instances of the embodiment of a lateral magneto resistor of Figures 1a and 1b.

    Fig. 4b shows a schematic circuit diagram of another embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, implemented in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type offset compensation circuitry using three instances of the embodiment of a lateral magneto resistor of Figures 1a and 1b.

    Fig. 5a shows a schematic top view of the differential lateral magnetic field sensor system of Fig. 4a.

    Fig. 5b shows a schematic top view of the differential lateral magnetic field sensor system of Fig. 4b.

    Fig. 6 shows a schematic top view of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system, based on one of the embodiments of Figs. 3a, 4a and 5a or of Figs. 3b, 4b and 5b, further comprising switching circuitry for alternatively switching between two configurations of the system.

    Fig. 7 shows schematic top views of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system, based on one of the embodiments of Figs. 3a, 4a and 5a or of Figs. 3b, 4b and 5b, adapted to be cyclically switchable through three configurations of the system.

    Fig. 8 shows a schematic top view of a two-dimensional array arrangement of differential lateral magnetic field sensors according to the invention, adapted to be switchable in multiple configurations of magnetic field sensor systems according to the invention, each formed by a triplet configuration of magnetic field sensors.

    Fig. 9 shows a schematic top view of a two-dimensional array arrangement of differential lateral magnetic field sensors according to the invention, adapted to be switchable in multiple configurations of magnetic field sensor systems according to the invention, each formed by a triplet configuration of magnetic field sensors, wherein the triplet configuration can be moved stepwise within the array arrangement.

    Fig. 10 shows a schematic diagram showing calculated relative voltage outputs Vout/Vs of a Wheatstone bridge type offset compensation circuitry of one of Figs. 4a or 5a and Figs. 4b or 5b as a function of the applied lateral magnetic flux densitiy B, exhibiting offset compensation.

    Fig. 11a shows a schematic cross section of a first embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto transistor for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 11b shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 11a.

    Fig. 12a shows a schematic cross section of a second embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto transistor for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 12b shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 12a.

    Fig. 13a shows a schematic cross section of a third embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto transistor for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 13b shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 13a.

    Fig. 14a shows a schematic cross section of a fourth embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto transistor for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 14b shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 14a.

    Fig. 15a shows a schematic cross section of a fifth embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto transistor for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 15b shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 15a.

    Fig. 16a shows a first embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, formed by three instances of an embodiment of the lateral magneto transistor of Figures 15a and 15b, each of which is shown in a cross sectional view.

    Fig. 16b shows a second embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, formed by three instances of an embodiment of the lateral magneto transistor of Figures 15a and 15b, each of which is shown in a cross sectional view.

    Fig. 17 shows a schematic circuit diagram of an embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, implemented in the form of a chopped offset compensation differential read-out circuitry involving three instances of a lateral magneto transistor of Figures 11a and 11b.

    Fig. 18a shows a schematic cross section of a first embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto diode for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 18b shows a schematic circuit diagram of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 18a.

    Fig. 18c shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 18a.

    Fig. 19a shows a schematic cross section of a second embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto diode for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 19b shows a schematic circuit diagram of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 19a.

    Fig. 19c shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 19a.

    Fig. 20a shows a schematic cross section of a third embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto diode for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 20b shows a schematic circuit diagram of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 20a.

    Fig. 20c shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 20a.

    Fig. 21a shows a schematic cross section of a fourth embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto diode for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 21b shows a schematic circuit diagram of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 21a.

    Fig. 21c shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 21a.

    Fig. 22a shows a schematic cross section of a fifth embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto diode for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 22b shows a schematic circuit diagram of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 22a.

    Fig. 22c shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 22a.

    Fig. 23a shows a schematic cross section of a sixth embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto diode for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 23b shows a schematic circuit diagram of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 23a.

    Fig. 23c shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 23a.

    Fig. 24a shows a schematic cross section of a seventh embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor implemented in the form of a lateral magneto diode for use in a differential magnetic field sensor system achieving offset cancelling by providing multiple instances of the magnetic field sensor according to the invention.

    Fig. 24b shows a schematic circuit diagram of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 24a.

    Fig. 24c shows a schematic top view of the magnetic field sensor of Fig. 24a.

    Fig. 25a shows a first embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, formed by three instances of an embodiment of the lateral magneto diode of Figures 24a to 24c, each of which is shown in a cross sectional view.

    Fig. 25b shows a second embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, formed by three instances of an embodiment of the lateral magneto diode of Figures 24a to 24c, each of which is shown in a cross sectional view.

    Fig. 26 shows a schematic circuit diagram of an embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, implemented in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type offset compensation circuitry using three instances of the embodiment of a lateral magneto diode of Figures 19a to 19c.

    Fig. 27 shows a schematic circuit diagram of another embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, implemented in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type offset compensation circuitry using three instances of the embodiment of a lateral magneto diode of Figures 21a to 21c.

    Fig. 28 shows a schematic circuit diagram of still another embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, implemented in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type offset compensation circuitry using three instances of the embodiment of a lateral magneto diode of Figures 24a to 24c.

    Fig. 29 shows a schematic circuit diagram of an embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, implemented in the form of a chopped offset compensation differential read-out circuitry involving three instances of a lateral magneto diode of Figures 19a to 19c.

    Fig. 30 shows a schematic circuit diagram of another embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, implemented in the form of a chopped offset compensation differential read-out circuitry involving three instances of a lateral magneto diode of Figures 21a to 21c.

    Fig. 31 shows a schematic circuit diagram of still another embodiment of a differential lateral magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, implemented in the form of a chopped offset compensation differential read-out circuitry involving three instances of a lateral magneto diode of Figures 24a to 24c.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION



    [0033] Methods for manufacturing and methods for having manufactured the various components, elements, devices and systems that are described herein are comprised within the scope of the present invention. At least some of the circuitry, systems and methods, which are disclosed herein, may be implemented by using conventional semiconductor design and manufacturing techniques in order to provide a single integrated circuit or an application-specific-circuitry (ASIC).

    [0034] Figures 1a and 1b show one instance of a first embodiment of a lateral magneto resistor (LMR) 400 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated LMR on n-type well and p-type epitaxial layer. The sensor 100 is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, which generally involves three instances (100, 200, 300, see Figures 3a and 3b) of the same magnetic field sensor. The LMR 400 based magnetic field sensor 100 shown in Figures 1a and 1b is manufactured using MOS (metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology performed on a SOI (silicon on oxide) substrate, which is commonly available. The substrate comprises handle wafer silicon 416 employed as a basis, an oxide layer that is deposited on the silicon and that becomes a buried oxide layer 414 after deposition of the next layer, and a p-type epitaxial layer 410 that is deposited on the oxide layer. The further structures which make up the LMR 400 are deposited on this substrate, namely on the epitaxial layer 410.

    [0035] The LMR 400 further comprises an n-type well 406 that is formed in the p-type epitaxial layer 410 and that forms the surface layer portion 102 mentioned in the appended claims, and an MTI (medium trench isolation) structure 405, which that is a ring-shaped isolation that extends from the top surface of the epitaxial layer 410 down into the buried oxide layer 414, so that isolated islands are formed for the sensor structure inside the ring. The LMR 400 further comprises an emitter structure 110 that is made as an n+-type structure 402 in the centre of the n-type well 406 and symmetrically with respect to a symmetry plane 106 which in turn is perpendicular to the surface 104 of the layers 410 and 406 and perpendicular to the plane of drawing of Figures 1a and 1b. The LMR 400 further comprises a first collector structure 116 and a second collector structure 118 that are each made as an n+-type structure 402 in the n-type well 406, on opposite sides of the symmetry plane 106 and such that the first and the second collector structure 116 and 118 are mirror images of each other with respect to the symmetry plane 106.

    [0036] The LMR 400 further comprises a ring-type STI (shallow trench isolation) area 407 that is formed in an essentially rectangular shape so as to surround the emitter structure 110 and the first and second collector structures 116 and 118, and a P-contact that is formed as a p+-type structure 403 in the STI area 407 and as a ring-type contact. Still further, the LMR 400 comprises a gate structure 120 that is formed of polysilicon 401 and deposited on the surface of the n-type well 406 in the area between the emitter structure 110 and the first collector structure 116, the area between the emitter structure 110 and the second collector structure 118, and in an area surrounding the emitter and collector structures 110, 116 and 118 between these structures and the surrounding ring-type STI area 407, see Figure 1b.

    [0037] In use of the magnetic field sensor 100 as an LMR 400-type magnetic field sensor, an electric current formed by electrons as the charge carriers is injected via the emitter structure 110 into the n-type well 406. There, the current is divided in two portions having opposite directions, a first current portion flowing to the first collector structure 116 and a second current portion flowing to the second collector structure 118. The first and second current portions are collected at the collector structures 116 and 118, respectively. When a magnetic flux density B is applied in a lateral direction and in the symmetry plane 106 (i.e. perpendicular into the plane of drawing of Fig. 1a, as indicated by B in Fig. 1a), the first and the second current portions are influenced by the Lorentz force acting on the electrons and deviated in opposite directions, respectively, one current portion being deviated closer to the surface and the other current portion being deviated away from the surface. This leads to a difference of the currents that are collected at the first and the second collector structure 116 and 118, which causes at the collector structures 116 and 118 a differential current signal that is a measure for the magnetic flux density B.

    [0038] The n-type well 406 is formed in the p-type epitaxial layer 410 for shielding interface defects present at the interface with the buried oxide layer 414. The gate structure 120 made of polysilicon 401 may be connected to a negatively biasing electrical potential that can be adjusted so as to push the charge carriers, i.e. the electrons, into the volume and deplete the surface layers. For the reasons mentioned above and as will be explained below, the differential current signal may be superimposed by an offset current signal. The offset current signal is significant in magnitude and is to be compensated and/or cancelled, as will be explained further below with reference to Figures 4 to 9.

    [0039] Figures 2a and 2b show one instance of a second embodiment of a lateral magneto resistor (LMR) 400 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated LMR on n-type well and p-type epitaxial layer with dual gate control. Also this sensor 100 is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMR 400 of the second embodiment in Figures 2a and 2b is layouted substantially similar as the LMR 400 of the first embodiment in Figures 1a and 1b, except for the layout of the emitter structure and that of the gate structure and its electrical connection. Instead of the one emitter structure 110 in the LMR 400 of the first embodiment, in the LMR 400 of the second embodiment, the emitter structure comprises a first portion emitter structure 112 and a second portion emitter structure 114, which are arranged on opposite sides of the symmetry plane 106 so as to be substantially mirror images of one another and which can be electrically contacted individually. Further, instead of the one gate structure 120 in the LMR 400 of the first embodiment, in the LMR 400 of the second embodiment, the gate structure comprises a first gate structure 120 and a second gate structure 122. The second gate structure 122 is formed between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the second portion emitter structure 114 and can be electrically contacted individually. The first gate structure 120 is formed so as to surround the emitter structures 112 and 114 and the collector structures 116 and 118 and to be between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the first collector structure 116 and also between the second portion emitter structure 114 and the second collector structure 118 and can be electrically contacted individually and separately from the second gate structure 122.

    [0040] According to the invention, the presently proposed approach toward offset cancellation is to combine one magnetic field sensor (in the following called the first magnetic field sensor 100) that is operated double-sided (as mentioned above and as will be explained in more detail below), i.e. via its first and second collector structures 116 and 118, with two additional identically layouted sensors (in the following called the second magnetic field sensor 200 and the third magnetic field sensor 300) that are each operated single-sided, i.e. via only a respective one of their collector structures and that are arranged in close vicinity to the first sensor 100 on the SOI substrate. The combination of the first magnetic field sensor 100 that is double-sidedly operated with the two additional sensors - the second and the third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300, is shown in Figures 3a and 3b using as an example three instances of the LMR 400 of the first embodiment shown in Figures 1 a and 1b.

    [0041] In Figure 3a, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is operated double-sided in that an electric current is injected via the (n+-type 402) emitter structure 110 and - due to the symmetric layout - separated in two current portions. The first current portion is registered at the (n+-type 402) first collector structure 116 after it has passed through a portion of the n-type well 406, which portion is attributed a first resistance (equivalent first resistor) 124. The second current portion is registered at the (n+-type 402) second collector structure 118 after it has passed through another portion of the n-type well 406, which portion is attributed a second resistance (equivalent second resistor) 126. The second magnetic field sensor 200 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its emitter structure 210 and registered at its first collector structure 216 after it has passed through a portion of its n-type well 406, which portion is attributed a first resistance (equivalent first resistor) 224 and which is analogue to the first resistance 124 in the first magnetic field sensor 100. The third magnetic field sensor 300 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its emitter structure 310 and registered at its second collector structure 318 after it has passed through a portion of its n-type well 406, which portion is attributed a second resistance (equivalent second resistor) 326 and which is analogue to the second resistance 126 in the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0042] In Figure 3b, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is operated as in Figure 3a. However, contrary to the situation in Figure 3a, the second magnetic field sensor 200 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its emitter structure 210 and registered at its second collector structure 218 after it has passed through a portion of its n-type well 406, which portion is attributed a second resistance (equivalent first resistor) 226 and which is analogue to the second resistance 126 in the first magnetic field sensor 100. Also contrary to the situation in Figure 3a, the third magnetic field sensor 300 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its emitter structure 310 and registered at its first collector structure 316 after it has passed through a portion of its n-type well 406, which portion is attributed a first resistance (equivalent second resistor) 324 and which is analogue to the first resistance 124 in the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0043] In both Figures 3a and 3b, by virtue of the differential current, i.e. the difference between the first and the second current portions, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is sensitive to the magnetic flux density B. And by virtue of the single-sided operation, the second and the third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 are not sensitive to the magnetic flux density B and can therefore be called dummy structures.

    [0044] Figures 4a and 4b, respectively, show a magnetic field sensor structure 10 formed by the electrical connection of the two dummy structure magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 to the first magnetic field sensor 100 of Figures 3a and 3b in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20. In particular, the LMR 400 based first, second and third magnetic field sensor 100, 200 and 300 are externally connected in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type circuitry 20, in which a first voltage divider 22 and a second voltage divider 24 are coupled between a, for example positive, supply voltage level 36 and a common ground voltage level 38.

    [0045] In Figure 4a, the first voltage divider 22 comprises a structure comprising the first collector structure 216 and the emitter structure 210 of the second magnetic field sensor 200, and a structure comprising the first collector structure 116 and the emitter structure 110 of the first magnetic field sensor 100. In the first voltage divider 22, the first collector structure 216 of the second magnetic field sensor 200 is coupled to the supply voltage level 36, the emitter structure 210 of the second magnetic field sensor 200 is coupled to the first collector structure 116 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 and the emitter structure 110 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 is coupled to the common ground voltage level 38. The second voltage divider 24 comprises a structure comprising the second collector structure 318 and the emitter structure 310 of the third magnetic field sensor 300, and a structure comprising the second collector structure 118 and the emitter structure 110 of the first magnetic field sensor 100. In the second voltage divider 24, the second collector structure 318 of the third magnetic field sensor 300 is coupled to the supply voltage level 36, and the emitter structure 310 of the third magnetic field sensor 300 is coupled to the second collector structure 118 of the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0046] The sensor system 10 of Figure 4a further comprises a differential voltage output terminal, which in turn comprises a first voltage output terminal 28 and a second voltage output terminal 30. The first voltage output terminal 28 is coupled to a first node 32 in the connection between the emitter structure 210 of the second magnetic field sensor 200 and the first collector structure 116 of the first magnetic field sensor 100. The second voltage output terminal 30 is coupled to a second node 34 in the connection between the emitter structure 310 of the third magnetic field sensor 300 and the second collector structure 118 of the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0047] In the Wheatstone bridge 20 type electrical connection between the first magnetic field sensor 100 and the second and third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 of Figure 3a, the first resistance 124 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 is compensated by the analogous first resistance 224 of the second magnetic field sensor 200, and the second resistance 126 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 is compensated by the analogous second resistance 326 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. The differential signal Vout at the differential output, viz. the difference of the signal at the output 28 and the signal at the output 30 in Fig. 4a, is a measure for the magnetic flux density B, whereby a compensation of the systematic offsets of the first and second resistances 124 and 126 in the first magnetic field sensor 100 is achieved by the electrical coupling as shown in Figure 4a with the first resistance 224 in the second magnetic field sensor 200 and the second resistance 326 in the third magnetic field sensor 300.

    [0048] In Figure 3b, the role of the second and the third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 are mutually exchanged. Otherwise, the formation of the magnetic field sensor system 10 in Figure 3b is similar to that in Figure 3a. Figure 4b shows the electrical connection of the second and the third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 to the first magnetic field sensor 100 in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type circuitry for the magnetic field sensor system 10 of Figure 3b, in analogy to the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry of Figure 4a for the magnetic field sensor system 10 of Figure 3 a.

    [0049] Figure 5a shows the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry of Figure 4a for the magnetic field sensor system 10 of Figure 3a, not in the form of circuit diagram as in Figure 4a but in the form of a top plan view on a triplet configuration of the first magnetic field sensor 100 in electrical coupling to the first dummy second magnetic field sensor 200 and the second dummy third magnetic field sensor 300 as shown in Figure 3a. Similary, Figure 5b shows the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry of Figure 4b for the magnetic field sensor system 10 of Figure 3b, not in the form of circuit diagram as in Figure 4b but in the form of a top plan view on a triplet configuration of the first magnetic field sensor 100 in electrical coupling to the first dummy second magnetic field sensor 200 and the second dummy third magnetic field sensor 300 as shown in Figure 3b.

    [0050] The offset compensation according to the scheme illustrated in the Figures 4a and 5a based on the magnetic field sensor system 10 of Figure 3a and similary the offset compensation according to the scheme illustrated in the Figures 4b and 5b based on the magnetic field sensor system 10 of Figure 3b can be further improved by switching, sequentially in time, from the magnetic field sensor system 10 shown in Figures 4a and 5a (and in Figure 3a) to the magnetic field sensor system 10 shown in Figures 4b and 5b (and in Figure 3a), back to that of Figures 4a and 5a, and so on. Such a sequential switching provides for an averaging between the two magnetic field sensor systems 10 of Figures 3a (4a, 5a) and 3b (4b, 5b). Additional external electrical connections and switching circuitry is required to implement such switching, as is illustrated in Figure 6.

    [0051] The magnetic field sensor system 10 shown in Figure 6 comprises, in addition to the sensor systems shown in the Figures 4a and 5a and in the Figures 4b and 5b, switching circuitry comprising a first 1-to-2 multiplexer 40 and a second 1-to-2 multiplexer 60.

    [0052] The first 1-to-2 multiplexer 40 in Figure 6 comprises a first and a second input terminal 42 and 44 and a first to fourth output terminal 46, 48, 50 and 52, and is adapted to be switchable, sequentially in time, into an "a" state and alternatively into a "b" state. In the "a" state, the first output terminal 46 is connected to the first input terminal 42, and the third output terminal 40 is connected to the second input terminal 44. In the "b" state, the second output terminal 48 is connected to the first input terminal 42 and the fourth output terminal 52 is connected to the second input terminal 44. Further, the first input terminal 42 is coupled to the second input terminal 44 and to the supply voltage level 36, and the first output terminal 46 is connected to the second collector structure 318 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. The second output terminal 48 is connected to the first collector structure 316 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. The third output terminal 50 is connected to the first collector structure 216 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The fourth output terminal 52 is connected to the second collector structure 218 of the second magnetic field sensor 200.

    [0053] The second 1-to-2 multiplexer 60 in Figure 6 comprises a first input terminal 62 and a second input terminal 64, and a first to fourth output terminal 66, 68, 70 and 72), and is adapted to be switchable, sequentially in time and synchronously with the second 1-to-2 multiplexer 40 in Figure 6, into an "a" state and alternatively into a "b" state. In the "a" state, the second output terminal 68 is connected to the first input terminal 62, and the fourth output terminal 72 is connected to the second input terminal 64. In the "b" state, the first output terminal 66 is connected to the first input terminal 62 and the third output terminal 70 is connected to the second input terminal 64. Further, the first input terminal 62 is coupled to the second collector structure 118 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 and to the second voltage output terminal 30 of the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry 20. The second input terminal 64 is coupled to the first collector structure 116 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 and to the first voltage output terminal 28 of the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry 20. The first output terminal 66 is connected with the fourth output terminal 72 and coupled to the emitter structure 210 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The second output terminal 68 is connected with the third output terminal 70 and coupled to the emitter structure 310 of the third magnetic field sensor 300.

    [0054] The offset compensation according to the switching scheme illustrated in the Figures 4a and 5a (or alternatively the switching scheme illustrated in the Figures 4b and 5b) can be further improved by switching cyclically and sequentially in time, the roles of the first, second and third magnetic field sensors 100, 200 and 300, as indicated in the Figure 7. Additional switching circuitry (not shown) is required, as will be obvious for a person skilled in the art, to implement such cyclical switching of the magnetic field sensor system 10 as shown in Figures 4a and 5a (or in Figures 4b and 5b) from a first state 74 to a second state 76, from the second state 76 to a third state 78, from the third state 78 to the first state 74, and so on, as shown in Figure 7.

    [0055] In the cyclical switching scheme shown in Figure 7, in the first state 74, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is operated double-sided via its first collector structure 116 to its emitter structure 110 and via its second collector structure 118 to its emitter structure 110, the second magnetic field sensor 200 is operated single-sided via its first collector structure 216 to its emitter structure 210, and the third magnetic field sensor 300 is operated single-sided via its second collector structure 318 to its emitter structure 310, as shown in Figure 3a. In the second state 76, the first magnetic field sensor 100 of the first state has become the third magnetic field sensor, the second magnetic field sensor 200 of the first state has become the first magnetic field sensor and the third magnetic field sensor 300 of the first state has become the second magnetic field sensor. In the third state 78, the first magnetic field sensor 100 of the first state has become the second magnetic field sensor, the second magnetic field sensor 200 of the first state has become the third magnetic field sensor and the third magnetic field sensor 300 of the first state has become the first magnetic field sensor. In summary, when going from the first state 74 via the second state 76 to the third state 78, each of the three magnetic field sensors 100, 200 and 300 changes its role, i.e. being one of the first to third magnetic field sensor of the sensor system 10, in a cyclical manner. The additional switching circuitry that is required to implement the afore-mentioned cyclical switching from the first to the second, further from the second to the third state, and from the third back to the first state, is not shown in Figure 7; its construction is straightforward and will be obvious for a person skilled in the art.

    [0056] In the state-of-the-art practice of semiconductor manufacturing, an overall structure, such as any one of a lateral magnetic resistor (LMR) 400 as shown in the Figures 1a and 1b or 2a and 2b, a lateral magnetic transistor (LMT) 500 as shown in the Figures 12a and 12b through to Figures 16a and 16b, and a lateral magnetic diode (LMD) 600 as shown in the Figures 18a to 18c through to Figures 24a to 24c, will be manufactured simultaneously in multiple instances on one wafer substrate, for example in the form of a two-dimensional array arrangement of magnetic field sensors 802, such as an M x N matrix type arrangement comprising M columns 804 and N rows of magnetic field sensors 802, wherein in M and N are predetermined integers. The M columns 804 can be labeled by an index j, which may assume values from 1 to M. The N rows 806 can be labeled by an index i, which may assume values from 1 to N. Each individual magnetic field sensor 802 may be identified by the pair (i, j) of its row index i and its column index j. Such a two-dimensional array arrangement of magnetic field sensors 802 in the form of an M x N matrix is shown in Figure 8. Each of the magnetic field sensors 802 may be one of an LMR 400, an LMT 500 or an LMD 600.

    [0057] A triplet configuration comprising three magnetic field sensors 802, i.e. a first, second and third magnetic field sensor 100, 200 and 300, as is shown for example in Figures 3a and 3b (involving three LMDs 400), in Figures 16a and 16b (involving three LMTs 500) or in Figures 25a and 25b (involving the LMDs 600), can be formed in a variety of triplet formation schemes (a), (b), (c) or (d), as exemplified by the triplet configurations 810, 812, 814 and 816, respectively. Each triplet formation scheme achieves a sort of providing multiple instances of triplets, distributed over the area of the wafer, of three magnetic field sensors, viz. the first, second and third magnetic field sensor 100, 200 and 300.

    [0058] According to triplet configuration scheme (a), the three magnetic field sensors 802, which are electrically connected together to form a magnetic field sensor system 10, are all taken out from one row of sensors as a set of three neighboring sensors, i.e. sensors (i, j), (i, j+1) and (i, j+2) for any i in the range from 1 to M and any j in the range from 1 to N-2, as exemplified in Figure 8 by the triplet configuration 810.

    [0059] According to triplet configuration scheme (b), the three magnetic field sensors 802, which are electrically connected together to form a magnetic field sensor system 10, are all taken out from one column of sensors as a set of three neighboring sensors, i.e. sensors (i, j), (i+1, j) and (i+2, j) for any i in the range from 1 to M-2 and any j in the range from 1 to N-2, as exemplified in Figure 8 by the triplet configuration 812.

    [0060] According to triplet configuration scheme (c), the three magnetic field sensors 802, which are electrically connected together to form a magnetic field sensor system 10, are all taken out from one diagonal (that is directed for example from the upper left to the lower right in Figure 8) of sensors as a set of three neighboring sensors, that is sensors (i, j), (i+1, j+1) and (i+2, j+2) for any i in the range from 1 to M and any j in the range from 1 to N-2, as exemplified in Figure 8 by the triplet configuration 814.

    [0061] According to triplet configuration scheme (d), the three magnetic field sensors 802, which are electrically connected together to form a magnetic field sensor system 10, are all taken out from another diagonal (that is directed for example from the lower left to the upper right in Figure 8) of sensors as a set of three neighboring sensors, that is sensors (i, j), (i-1, j+1) and (i-2, j+2) for any i in the range from 1 to M and any j in the range from 1 to N-2, as exemplified in Figure 8 by the triplet configuration 816.

    [0062] Each of those triplet configurations (a) (e.g. 810), (b) (e.g. 812), (c) (e.g. 814) and (d) (e.g. 816) shown in Figure 8 may be electrically connected together according to any one of the schemes shown in the Figures 4a (5a), 4b (5b), 6 or 7.

    [0063] Alternatively to the provision of multiple instances of triplet configurations, each of the triplet configurations (a) (e.g. 810), (b) (e.g. 812), (c) (e.g. 814) and (d) (e.g. 816) shown in Figure 8 may be "stepped", i.e. moved sequentially in time, within the array arrangement 800 according any one of the following positional stepping schemes (1), (2), (3) or (4), of which the stepping schemes (1) and (2) are illustrated in Figure 9. The skilled person will understand that additional external connection circuitry as well as external clock circuitry, which defines clock cycles starting at time instances t, t+Δt, t+2Δt, and so on, is required to implement such stepping schemes.

    [0064] Each triplet configuration 810, 812, 814 or 816 of magnetic field sensors 802 (100, 200, 300) may be sequentially stepped within the array arrangement 800 according one of the following positional schemes:
    1. (1) position at time instance t: (i, j),
      position at time instance t+Δt: (i+1, j) or (i-1, j), and
      position at time instance t+2Δt: (i+2, j) or (i-2, j);
    2. (2) position at time instance t: (i, j),
      position at time instance t+Δt: (i, j+1) or (i, j-1), and
      position at time instance t+2Δt: (i, j+2) or (i, j-2);
    3. (3) position at time instance t: (i, j),
      position at time instance t+Δt: (i+1, j+1) or (i-1, j-1), and
      position at time instance t+2Δt: (i+2, j+2) or (i-2, j-2); and
    4. (4) position at time instance t: (i, j),
      position at time instance t+Δt: (i+1, j-1) or (i-1, j+1), and
      position at time instance t+2Δt: (i+2, j-2) or (i-2, j+2);


    [0065] In each of the afore-mentioned stepping schemes, the stated sequential positions designate the sequential positions in the array arrangement 800 as taken by one of the magnetic field sensors, for example the first magnetic field sensor 100, of the triplet configuration 810, 812, 814, 816, while the complementary two sensors, in the example the second and the third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 of the triplet configuration 810, 812, 814, 816, are located at respective fixed relative positions with respect to the one magnetic field sensor according to any one of the triplet configuration schemes (a), (b), (c) or (d).

    [0066] Figure 10 shows the results of calculations of the relative output voltage Vout/Vs of a Wheatstone bridge type circuit involving three LMRs 400, viz. first, second and third LMR-type magnetic sensors 100, 200 and 300, as shown in Figures 3a and 3b, as a function of the applied magnetic flux density B. For the calculation, it is supposed that each LMR 400 has an internal first resistance and second resistance, e.g. first resistance 124 (or R1) and second resistance 126 (or R2) as indicated in Figure 3a, which are dependent on the applied magnetic flux density. The first resistance 124 or R1 is supposed to have a larger current as compared to the second resistance 126 or R2, when B is directed as indicated in Figure 3a. Since these current deviations are very small in silicon (because the mobility of the charge carriers is small), one may write the constant voltage biased resistances as being linearly dependent on B:

    and

    where Rbal is the resistance value at current balance, i.e. when B = Beq, and S is the sensitivity of the sensor defined as S = (ΔR/R)/ΔB. The values of the B-sensitive resistances R1' and R2" (as in Fig. 3a), or the complementary pair R1" and R2" (as in Fig. 3b), are equal to the respective LMR-resistance at zero magnetic flux density (B=0), since they are arranged on the wafer in close vicinity to each other. It is expected that the systematic differences between R1(0) and R2(0) have been copied in R1' and R2' and in R1" and R2". This implies that:

    and



    [0067] The output voltage Vout of the Wheatstone bridge 20 is normalized to the supply voltage Vs and in normalized form equals



    [0068] Inserting the expressions for the resistances, it is found:



    [0069] This relationship for Vout/Vs is plotted in Figure 10 as a function of the magnetic flux density B, with Beq being a parameter and a value for S assumed to be 10%/T. The output Vout/Vs is quite linear in its dependency on B, and almost independent of the Beq value, for all practical S values. This reflects the basic finding underlying the present invention, that the offset of a first sensor 100 in a triplet configuration of three sensors 100, 200 and 300, which are electrically connected e.g. in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type circuit, is intrinsically cancelled by values of the B-insensitive internal resistances R1' of the second sensor and R2" of the third sensor or the complementary pair R1" of the second sensor and R2'.

    [0070] Figures 11a and 11b show one instance of a first embodiment of a lateral magneto transistor (LMT) 500 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated NPN LMT with far STI and single gate on p-type well and p-type epitaxial layer. The sensor 100 is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, which generally involves three instances (100, 200, 300, see Figures 16a and 16b) of the same magnetic field sensor. The LMT 500 based magnetic field sensor 100 shown in Figures 11a and 11b is manufactured using MOS (metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology performed on a SOI (silicon on oxide) substrate, which is commonly available. The substrate comprises handle wafer silicon 516 employed as a basis, an oxide layer that is deposited on the silicon and that becomes a buried oxide layer 514 after deposition of the next layer, and a p-type epitaxial layer 510 that is deposited on the oxide layer. The further structures which make up the LMT 500 are deposited on this substrate, namely on the epitaxial layer 510.

    [0071] The LMT 500 further comprises an p-type well 508 that is formed in the p-type epitaxial layer 510 and that forms the surface layer portion 102 mentioned in the appended claims, and an MTI (medium trench isolation) structure 405, which that is a ring-shaped isolation that extends from the top surface of the epitaxial layer 510 down into the buried oxide layer 514, so that isolated islands are formed for the sensor structure inside the ring. The LMT 500 further comprises an emitter structure 110 that is made as an n+-type structure 502 in the centre of the p-type well 508 and symmetrically with respect to a symmetry plane 106 which in turn is perpendicular to the surface 104 of the layers 510 and 508 and perpendicular to the plane of drawing of Figures 11a and 11b. The LMT 500 further comprises a first collector structure 116 and a second collector structure 118 that are each made as an n+-type structure 502 in the p-type well 508, on opposite sides of the symmetry plane 106 and such that the first and the second collector structure 116 and 118 are mirror images of each other with respect to the symmetry plane 106.

    [0072] The LMT 500 further comprises a ring-type STI (shallow trench isolation) area 507 that is formed in an essentially rectangular shape so as to surround the emitter structure 110 and the first and second collector structures 116 and 118. The LMT 500 further comprises a first and a second contact B1 and B2 that are each formed as a p+-type structure 503 in the p-well 508, arranged at a distance and parallel to the first and second collector structure 116 and 118, respectively, on opposite sides of the symmetry plane 106 so as to be substantially mirror images of each other. Still further, the LMT 500 comprises a gate structure 120 that is formed of polysilicon 501 and deposited on the surface of the p-type well 508 in the area between the emitter structure 110 and the first collector structure 116, the area between the emitter structure 110 and the second collector structure 118, and in an area surrounding the emitter and collector structures 110, 116 and 118, see Figure 11b.

    [0073] In use of the magnetic field sensor 100 as an LMT 500-type magnetic field sensor, an electric current formed by electrons as the charge carriers is injected via the emitter structure 110 into the p-type well 508. There, the current is divided in two portions having opposite directions, a first current portion flowing to the first collector structure 116 and a second current portion flowing to the second collector structure 118. The first and second current portions are collected at the collector structures 116 and 118, respectively. When a magnetic flux density B is applied in a lateral direction and in the symmetry plane 106 (i.e. perpendicular into the plane of drawing of Fig. 1a, as indicated by B in Fig. 1a), the first and the second current portions are influenced by the Lorentz force acting on the electrons and deviated in opposite directions, respectively, one current portion being deviated closer to the surface and the other current portion being deviated away from the surface. This leads to a difference of the currents that are collected at the first and the second collector structure 116 and 118, which causes at the collector structures 116 and 118 a differential current signal that is a measure for the magnetic flux density B.

    [0074] The path of the current flow from the (n+-type) emitter structure 110 through the (p-type) well 508 to the first or second (n+-type) collector structure 116 or 118 can be characterized as NPN and involves two pn-junctions. The p-type well 508 is formed in the p-type epitaxial layer 510 for shielding interface defects present at the interface with the buried oxide layer 514. The gate structure 120 made of polysilicon 501 may be connected to a negatively biasing electrical potential that can be adjusted so as to push the charge carriers, i.e. the electrons, into the volume and accumulate the surface with holes, so that holes are attracted to the surface and electrons are pushed away from the surface. For the reasons mentioned above and as will be explained below, the differential current signal may be superimposed by an offset current signal. The offset current signal is significant in magnitude and is to be compensated and/or cancelled, as will be explained further below with reference to Figure 17.

    [0075] Figures 12a and 12b show one instance of a second embodiment of a lateral magneto transistor (LMT) 500 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated, double-emitter NPN LMT with far STI and single gate on p-type well and p-type epitaxial layer. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMT 500 of the second embodiment in Figures 12a and 12b is layouted substantially similar as the LMT 500 of the first embodiment in Figures 11a and 11b, except for the layout of the emitter structure and that of the gate structure and its electrical connection. Instead of the one emitter structure 110 in the LMT 500 of the first embodiment, in the LMT 500 of the second embodiment, the emitter structure comprises a first portion emitter structure 112 and a second portion emitter structure 114, which are arranged on opposite sides of the symmetry plane 106 so as to be substantially mirror images of one another and which can be electrically contacted individually. Further, instead of the one gate structure 120 in the LMT 500 of the first embodiment, in the LMT 500 of the second embodiment, the gate structure comprises a first gate structure 120 and a second gate structure 122. The second gate structure 122 is formed between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the second portion emitter structure 114 and can be electrically contacted individually. The first gate structure 120 is formed so as to surround the emitter structures 112 and 114 and the collector structures 116 and 118 and to be between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the first collector structure 116 and also between the second portion emitter structure 114 and the second collector structure 118 and can be electrically contacted individually and separately from the second gate structure 122.

    [0076] Figures 13a and 13b show one instance of a third embodiment of a lateral magneto transistor (LMT) 500 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-single gated NPN LMT and single gate on p-type well and p-type epitaxial layer. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMT 500 of the second embodiment in Figures 13a and 13b is layouted substantially similar as the LMT 500 of the first embodiment in Figures 11a and 11b, except for the layout of the gate structure. Instead of the gate structure 120 in the LMT 500 of the first embodiment, in the LMT 500 of the second embodiment, the gate structure 120 is extended so as to further surround the first and the second contact B1 and B2 areas.

    [0077] Figures 14a and 14b show one instance of a fourth embodiment of a lateral magneto transistor (LMT) 500 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated NPN LMT with far STI and dual gate on p-type well and p-type epitaxial layer. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMT 500 of the fourth embodiment in Figures 14a and 14b is layouted substantially similar as the LMT 500 of the third embodiment in Figures 13a and 13b, except for the layout of the emitter structure and that of the gate structure and its electrical connection. Instead of the one emitter structure 110 in the LMT 500 of the third embodiment, in the LMT 500 of the fourth embodiment, the emitter structure comprises a first portion emitter structure 112 and a second portion emitter structure 114, which are arranged on opposite sides of the symmetry plane 106 so as to be substantially mirror images of one another and which can be electrically contacted individually. Further, instead of the one gate structure 120 in the LMT 500 of the third embodiment, in the LMT 500 of the fourth embodiment, the gate structure comprises a first gate structure 120 and a second gate structure 122. The second gate structure 122 is formed between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the second portion emitter structure 114 and can be electrically contacted individually. The first gate structure 120 is formed so as to surround the first and second B1 and B2 contact 128 and 130 p+ areas, the emitter structures 112 and 114 and the collector structures 116 and 118 and to be between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the first collector structure 116 and also between the second portion emitter structure 114 and the second collector structure 118 and can be electrically contacted individually and separately from the second gate structure 122.

    [0078] Figures 15a and 15b show one instance of a fifth embodiment of a lateral magneto transistor (LMT) 500 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated NPN LMT and single gate on p-type well and p-type epitaxial layer. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMT 500 of the fifth embodiment in Figures 15a and 15b is layouted substantially similar as the LMT 500 of the fourth embodiment in Figures 14a and 14b, except for the electrical connection of the gate structures. Instead of the two individual and separately connectable first and second gate structures 120 and 122 in the LMT 500 of the fourth embodiment, in the LMT 500 of the fifth embodiment, the gate structure is comprised of only one externally connectable gate structure 120, which can be seen to comprise the first and second gate structures 120 and 122 of the fourth embodiment of Figures 14a and 14b.

    [0079] According to the invention and as already stated above, the presently proposed approach toward offset cancellation is to combine one magnetic field sensor (in the following called the first magnetic field sensor 100) that is operated double-sided (as mentioned above and as will be explained in more detail below), i.e. via its first and second collector structures 116 and 118, with two additional identically layouted sensors (in the following called the second magnetic field sensor 200 and the third magnetic field sensor 300) that are each operated single-sided, i.e. via only a respective one of their collector structures and that are arranged in close vicinity to the first sensor 100 on the SOI substrate. The combination of the first magnetic field sensor 100 that is double-sidedly operated with the two additional sensors, viz. the second and the third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300, is shown in Figures 16a and 16b. In this example, three instances of the LMT 500 of the fifth embodiment shown in Figures 15a and 15b are used in combination.

    [0080] In Figure 16a, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is operated double-sided in that an electric current is injected via the (n+-type, 502) emitter structures 112 and 114, which are externally connected to thus form a combined single emitter structure. Due to the symmetric layout - the injected current is separated in two current portions. The first current portion is registered at the (n+-type, 502) first collector structure 116 after it has passed through a portion of the p-type well 508, which portion is attributed a first current path 124. The second current portion is registered at the (n+-type, 502) second collector structure 118 after it has passed through another portion of the p-type well 508, which portion is attributed a second current path 126. The second magnetic field sensor 200 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its second emitter structure 214 and registered at its second collector structure 218 after it has passed through a portion of its p-type well 508, which portion is attributed a second current path 226 and which is analogue to the second current path 126 in the first magnetic field sensor 100. The third magnetic field sensor 300 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its first emitter structure 312 and registered at its first collector structure 316 after it has passed through a portion of its p-type well 508, which portion is attributed a first current path 324 and which is analogue to the first current path 124 in the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0081] In Figure 16b, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is operated as in Figure 16a. However, contrary to the situation in Figure 16a, the second magnetic field sensor 200 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its first emitter structure 212 and registered at its first collector structure 216 after it has passed through a portion of its p-type well 508, which portion is attributed a first current path 224 and which is analogue to the first current path 124 in the first magnetic field sensor 100. Also contrary to the situation in Figure 16a, the third magnetic field sensor 300 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its second emitter structure 314 and registered at its second collector structure 318 after it has passed through a portion of its p-type well 508, which portion is attributed a second current path 326 and which is analogue to the second current path 126 in the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0082] In both Figures 16a and 16b, by virtue of the differential current, i.e. the difference between the first and the second current portions, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is sensitive to the magnetic flux density B. And by virtue of the single-sided operation, the second and the third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 are not sensitive to the magnetic flux density B and can therefore be called dummy structures. Because of the occurrence of two pn-junctions on each of the first and second current path in each of the three lateral magneto transistors 500 which together form the magnetic field sensor system 10 shown in the Figures 16a and 16b, this LMT 500 based sensor system 10 of the Figures 16a and 16b cannot be operated in a resistance detection mode which in particular involves a Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20 (see Figures 4a and 4b, and 5a and 5b) as can the LMR 400 based sensor system 10 of the Figures 3a and 3b. Rather, the LMT 500 based sensor system 10 can be operated in a current detection mode, in which the electrical currents that flow through the first and second current path 124 and 126 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 shown in Figures 16a and 16b are detected and the differential (difference of currents) signal, which is a measure for magnetic flux density B, is formed and amplified. Aiming to obtain a compensation of the current offset, the differential current signal obtained from the LMT 500-based first magnetic field sensor 100 (which is operated double-sided) is combined with signals relating to the electric current that flows along the current path 224 in the second magnetic field sensor 200 and the electric current that floes along the current path 326 in the third magnetic field sensor 300, or alternatively the electric currents that flow along the current path 226 and along the current path 324 respectively in the second and third magnetic field sensor 200 and 300 (each of which is operated single-sided), as shown in Fig. 17.

    [0083] Figure 17 shows a sensor system 10 (triplet configuration) comprising a first, second and third magnetic field sensor 100, 200 and 300 (as exemplified in Figures 16a and 16b), which are electrically connected together so that a chopped differential current read-out circuitry is formed which is suitable for obtaining a signal that is a measure for the magnetic flux density B and that is output from a circuity that achieves offset compensation. In particular, the sensor system 10 shown in Figure 17 comprises a chopped differential magnetic field sensor read-out circuitry, which comprises, in addition to the first, second and third magnetic field sensor 100, 200 and 300, a switchable 1-to-2 multiplexer 670, a first differential amplifier 680, a switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer 684, a second differential amplifier 691, a third differential amplifier 695, and clock circuitry, and which is adapted to provide a sensor output signal 99 that is a measure for the magnetic flux density B. The elements 100, 200, 300, 683, 684, 691 and 695 of the sensor read-out circuitry are interconnected as follows.

    [0084] The switchable 1-to-2 multiplexer 670 has a first and second input terminal 671 and 672 and a first to fourth output terminal 673, 674, 675 and 676, and is adapted to be switchable into an "a"-state and alternatively into a "b"-state. The first and second input terminals 671 and 672 are connected to a current source (I). The first output terminal 673 is connected to the first collector structure 216 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The second output terminal 674 is connected to the second collector structure 218 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The third output terminal 675 is connected to the second collector structure 318 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. And the fourth output terminal 676 is connected to the first collector structure 316 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. Further, in the "a"-state, the first input terminal 672 is connected to the second output terminal 674 and the second input terminal 672 is connected to the fourth output terminal 676, while in the "b"-state, the first input terminal 672 is connected to the first output terminal 673 and the second input terminal 672 is connected to the third output terminal 675.

    [0085] The first differential amplifier 680 comprises a "+"-type input terminal 681, a "-"-type input terminal 682 and an output terminal 683. The "+"-type input terminal 681 is coupled to one of the first and second collector structure 116, 118 of the first magnetic field sensor 100. The "-"-type input terminal 682 is coupled to the other one of the first and second collector structure 118, 116 of the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0086] The switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer 684 comprises a first to fourth input terminal 685, 686, 687, 688 and a first and a second output terminal 689, 690, and is adapted to be switchable into an "a"-state and alternatively into a "b"-state. In the "a"-state, the first input terminal 685 is connected to the first output terminal 689 and the third input terminal 687 is connected to the second output terminal 690. In the "b"-state, the second input terminal 86 is connected to the first output terminal 689 and the fourth input terminal 88 is connected to the second output terminal 690. The first input terminal 685 is coupled to the second collector structure 218 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The second input terminal 86 is coupled to the second collector structure 318 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. The third input terminal 687 is coupled to the first collector structure 316 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. The fourth input terminal 688 is coupled to the first collector structure 216 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The clock circuitry (not shown) is adapted to switch the 2-to-1 multiplexer 684 sequentially from its "a"-state to its "b"-state, from its "b"-state to its "a"-state, and so on.

    [0087] The second differential amplifier 691 comprises a "+"-type input terminal 692, a "-"-type input terminal 693 and an output terminal 694. The "-"-type input terminal 693 is coupled to first output terminal 689 of the 2-to-1 multiplexer 684, and the "+"-type input terminal 692 is coupled to second output terminal 90 of the 2-to-1 multiplexer 684.

    [0088] The third differential amplifier 695 comprises a "+"-type input terminal 96, a "-"-type input terminal 697 and an output terminal 698. The "+"-type input terminal 696 is coupled to output terminal 683 of the first differential amplifier 680, the "-"-type input terminal 697 is coupled to output terminal 694 of the second differential amplifier 691, and the output terminal 698 provides the sensor output signal 699.

    [0089] Due to the afore-mentioned mutual interconnection of the elements 100, 200, 300, 683, 684, 691 and 695 of the sensor read-out circuitry, the signal that is output from the output terminal 683 of the first differential amplifier 680 represents the output signal from the first magnetic field sensor 100 plus its offset (or as stated in Figure 17: "sensor signal + offset1"). The signal that is output from the output terminal 694 of the second differential amplifier 691 represents the offset that is output signal from the dummy second and third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 (or as stated in Figure 17: "offset2"). Depending on the state, i.e. "a"-state or "b"-state, of the switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer 684, the afore-mentioned signals assume values as indicated in the following table:
    state of multiplexer 684 (S1)signal+offset 1offset2
    a IC1 - IC2 (= I124- I126) IC"1 - IC'2 (= I324- I226)
    b IC1 - IC2 (= I124- I126) IC'1 - IC"2 (= I224- I326)


    [0090] In the "a"-state of the switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer 684, the first, second and third magnetic field sensors 100, 200 and 300 are interconnected and operated in the modus shown in Figure 16a, whereas in the "b"-state of the multiplexer 684, the first, second and third magnetic field sensors 100, 200 and 300 are interconnected and operated in the modus shown in Figure 16b. The chopping resp. the alternative switching in the switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer 684 between the "a"-state and the "b"-state provides for an averaging, sequentially in time, of the two offset compensation modi shown in Figures 16a and 16b. The signal that is output from the output terminal 698 of the third differential amplifier 695 represents the offset compensated output signal from the magnetic field sensor system 10 that is a measure of the magnetic flux density B, namely and as stated in Figure 17: "sensor signal + offset1 - offset2").

    [0091] The chopped operation of the switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer 684 shown in Figure 17 is analogous to the chopped operation of the first and second 1-to-2 multiplexers 40 and 60 shown in Figure 6 in the sense that the chopped operation provides for an averaging, sequentially in time, of the operation configurations of the two dummy (second and third) magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 as shown, respectively, in Figures 3a and 3b (involving LMR 400 based sensors 100, 200, 300) and in Figures 16a and 16b (involving LMT 500 based sensors 100, 200, 300).

    [0092] As a further alternative to the configurations of the first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 in the form of LMRs (lateral magneto resistors) 400 or LMTs (lateral magneto transistors) 500, the sensors 100 to 300 may also be configured as LMDs (lateral magneto diodes) 600. The Figures 18 to 24 show various embodiments of LMDs that can be employed in a magnetic field sensor system 10 according to the invention. Figures 25a and 25b illustrate the operation configurations of the LMD 600 based first magnetic field sensor 100 the two LMD 600 based, dummy (second and third) magnetic field sensors 200 and 300, in analogy to the LMR 400 based and the LMT 500 based operation configurations of first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 shown, respectively, in the Figures 3a and 3b and in the Figures 16a and 16b. Since LMDs 600 can be operated in a resistance detection mode, the offset compensation of LMD based magnetic field sensor systems can be achieved by electrically connecting LMD 600-based first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type circuitry as shown e.g. in each of Figures 26 to 28 (in analogy to the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry 20 shown in Figures 4a (5a) and 4b (5b) for LMRs 400). In addition, LMDs 600 can be operated in a current or voltage detection mode, the offset compensation of LMD based magnetic field sensor systems can be achieved by electrically connecting LMD 600-based first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 in the form of a chopped offset compensation differential read-out circuitry as shown e.g. in each of Figures 29 to 31 (in analogy to the chopped offset compensation differential read-out circuitry shown in Figure 17 for LMTs 500).

    [0093] The basic magnetodiode (LMD 600) structure involves a simpler device structure than for a magnetotransistor (LMT 500). An aim is to combine a high sensitivity with respect to the magnetic flux density B with a small offset. One may distinguish LMDs 600 which have a central n-type well structure 606, such as shown in Figures 18 to 22, and LMDs 600 which have a central p-type well structure 608, such as shown in Figures 23 and 24. In fact, another aim is to provide a lowly doped n-type or p-type (nearly intrinsic) well structure body, so as to obtain an n+-i-p+ (or the inverse n+-i-p+) diode.

    [0094] Figures 18a to 18c show one instance of a first embodiment of a lateral magneto diode (LMD) 600 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated N-body magneto diode on n-type well and n-type epitaxial layer 612. The sensor 100 is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention, which generally involves three instances (100, 200, 300, see Figures 25a and 25b) of the same magnetic field sensor. The LMB 600 based magnetic field sensor 100 shown in Figures 18a to 18c is manufactured using MOS (metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology performed on a SOI (silicon on oxide) substrate, which is commonly available. The substrate comprises handle wafer silicon 616 employed as a basis, an oxide layer that is deposited on the silicon and that becomes a buried oxide layer 614 after deposition of the next layer, and an n-type epitaxial layer 612 that is deposited on the oxide layer. The further structures which make up the LMD 600 are deposited on this substrate, namely on the epitaxial layer 612.

    [0095] The LMD 600 further comprises an n-type well 606 that is formed in the n-type epitaxial layer 612 and that forms the surface layer portion 102 mentioned in the appended claims, and an MTI (medium trench isolation) structure 605, which that is a ring-shaped isolation that extends from the top surface of the epitaxial layer 610 down into the buried oxide layer 614, so that isolated islands are formed for the sensor structure inside the ring. The LMD 600 further comprises an emitter structure 110 that is made as an n+-type structure 602 in the centre of the n-type well 606 and symmetrically with respect to a symmetry plane 106 which in turn is perpendicular to the surface 104 of the layers 612 and 606 and perpendicular to the plane of drawing of Figures 18a and 18c. The LMD 600 further comprises a first collector structure 116 and a second collector structure 118 that are each made as an p+-type structure 603 in the n-type well 606, on opposite sides of the symmetry plane 106 and such that the first and the second collector structure 116 and 118 are mirror images of each other with respect to the symmetry plane 106.

    [0096] The LMD 600 further comprises a ring-type STI (shallow trench isolation) area 607 that is formed in an essentially rectangular shape so as to surround the emitter structure 110 and the first and second collector structures 116 and 118. Then, the LMD 600 comprises a gate structure 120 that is formed of polysilicon 601 and deposited on the surface of the n-type well 606 in the area between the emitter structure 110 and the first collector structure 116, the area between the emitter structure 110 and the second collector structure 118, and in an area surrounding the emitter and collector structures 110, 116 and 118, see Figure 18c.

    [0097] In use of the magnetic field sensor 100 as an LMD 600-type magnetic field sensor, an electric current formed by electrons as the charge carriers is injected via the emitter structure 110 into the n-type well 606. There, the current is divided in two portions having opposite directions, a first current portion flowing to the first collector structure 116 and a second current portion flowing to the second collector structure 118. The first and second current portions are collected at the collector structures 116 and 118, respectively. When the diodes are biased (by applying a suitable external voltage) in their forward mode, the first and second collector structures 116 and 118 are injecting holes into the n-type well 606, which will travel to the emitter structure 110 in a direction opposite to the electrons from the emitter. When a magnetic flux density B is applied in a lateral direction and in the symmetry plane 106 (i.e. perpendicular into the plane of drawing of Fig. 18a, as indicated by B in Fig. 18a), the first and the second current portions are influenced by the Lorentz force acting on the electrons and deviated in opposite directions, respectively, one current portion being deviated closer to the surface and the other current portion being deviated away from the surface. This leads to a difference of the currents that are collected at the first and the second collector structure 116 and 118, which causes at the collector structures 116 and 118 a differential current signal that is a measure for the magnetic flux density B.

    [0098] As the polarity of holes is opposite to that of electrons, the Lorenz force acting on both charge carrier types is similar and enhances the differential signal compared to the electrons' signal. The path of the current flow from the (n+-type 602) emitter structure 110 through the (n-type, nearly intrinsic) well 606 to the first or second (p+-type 603) collector structure 116 or 118 can be characterized as n+-i-p+ and involve a diode transition, as is indicated in schematic (circuit diagram type) representation of the LMT 600 in Figure 18b. The n-type well 606 is formed in the n-type epitaxial layer 612 for shielding interface defects present at the interface with the buried oxide layer 614. The gate structure 120 made of polysilicon 601 may be connected to a negatively biasing electrical potential that can be adjusted so as to push the charge carriers, i.e. the electrons, into the volume and deplete the surface layers so as to avoid surface carrier flow from the emitter. For the reasons mentioned above and as will be explained below, the differential current signal may be superimposed by an offset current signal. The offset current signal is significant in magnitude and is to be compensated and/or cancelled, as will be explained further below with reference to Figures 26 to 28 and Figures 29 to 31.

    [0099] Figures 19a to 19c show one instance of a second embodiment of a lateral magneto diode (LMD) 600 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated N-body magneto diode with dual emitter on n-type well and n-type epitaxial layer 612. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMD 600 of the second embodiment in Figures 19a to 19c is layouted substantially similar as the LMD 600 of the first embodiment in Figures 18a to 18c, except for the layout of the emitter structure and that of the gate structure and its electrical connection. Instead of the one emitter structure 110 in the LMD 600 of the first embodiment, in the LMD 600 of the second embodiment, the emitter structure comprises a first portion emitter structure 112 and a second portion emitter structure 114, which are arranged on opposite sides of the symmetry plane 106 so as to be substantially mirror images of one another and which can be electrically contacted individually. Further, instead of the one gate structure 120 in the LMD 600 of the first embodiment, in the LMD 600 of the second embodiment, the gate structure comprises a first gate structure 120 and a second gate structure 122. The second gate structure 122 is formed between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the second portion emitter structure 114 and can be electrically contacted individually. The first gate structure 120 is formed so as to surround the emitter structures 112 and 114 and the collector structures 116 and 118 and to be between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the first collector structure 116 and also between the second portion emitter structure 114 and the second collector structure 118 and can be electrically contacted individually and separately from the second gate structure 122. The second gate structure 122 can be used to further control the offset and/or the sensitivity of the LMD 600.

    [0100] For the LMD 600 with the dual gate (120 and 122) and double emitter (112 and 114) structure and having an n-type well 606, when the voltages applied at the first and second gate structures 120 and 122 are negative, the surface of the n-type well 606 everywhere, including between the first and second emitter structure 112 and 114 in Figures 19, is depleted or even inverted. Then, there are the two separate emitter structures 112 and 114. When the voltage at the second gate structure 122 is positive, the surface of the n-type well 606 between the first and second emitter structure 112 and 114 is accumulated. In this case, effectively, the first and second emitter structures 112 and 114 become one wide emitter, due to which the sensitivity will drop. Nevertheless, such operation enables to operate a modulation scheme for offset compensation, from which the offset can be extracted or reduced.

    [0101] Figures 20a to 20c show one instance of a third embodiment of a lateral magneto diode (LMD) 600 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated N-body magneto diode on n-type well 606 and n-type epitaxial layer 612. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMD 600 of the third embodiment in Figures 20a to 20c is layouted substantially similar as the LMD 600 of the first embodiment in Figures 18a to 18c, except for the doping type of the emitter and collector structures. Contrary to the emitter structure 110 in Figure 18, which is of n+-type 602, the emitter structure 110 in Figure 20 is of p+-type 603. And contrary to the first and second collector structures 116 and 118 in Figure 18, which are of p+-type 603, the first and second collector structures 116 and 118 in Figure 20 are of n+-type 602. Accordingly and as is indicated in in Figure 18b and Figure 20b, the diode transition shifts from the collector (116, 118) - well (606) transition in the first embodiment of Figure 18 to the emitter (110) - well (606) transition in the third embodiment of Figure 20.

    [0102] Figures 21a to 21c show one instance of a fourth embodiment of a lateral magneto diode (LMD) 600 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated N-body magneto diode with dual emitter on n-type well and n-type epitaxial layer 612. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMD 600 of the fourth embodiment in Figures 21a to 21c is layouted substantially similar as the LMD 600 of the second embodiment in Figures 19a to 19c, except for the doping type of the emitter and collector structures. Contrary to the emitter structures 112 and 114 in Figure 19, which are of n+-type 602, the emitter structures 112 and 114 in Figure 21 are of p+-type 603. And contrary to the first and second collector structures 116 and 118 in Figure 19, which are of p+-type 603, the first and second collector structures 116 and 118 in Figure 21 are of n+-type 602. Accordingly and as is indicated in in Figure 19b and Figure 21b, the diode transition shifts from the collector (116, 118) - well (606) transition in the second embodiment of Figure 19 to the emitter (110) - well (606) transition in the fourth embodiment of Figure 21.

    [0103] Figures 22a to 22c show one instance of a fifth embodiment of a lateral magneto diode (LMD) 600 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated N-body magneto diode with dual emitter on n-type well and p-type epitaxial layer 610. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMD 600 of the fifth embodiment in Figures 22a to 22c is layouted substantially similar as the LMD 600 of the fourth embodiment in Figures 21a to 21c, except for the layout of the STI area 607. Contrary to the STI area 607 in Figure 21, the STI area 607 in Figure 22 is divided into an inner and an outer portion, which are spaced apart and between which there is further provided a P-contact structure of p+-type 603, see Figures 22a and 22c.

    [0104] Figures 23a to 23c show one instance of a sixth embodiment of a lateral magneto diode (LMD) 600 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated P-body magneto diode on p-type well 608 and p-type epitaxial layer 610. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMD 600 of the sixth embodiment in Figures 23a to 23c is layouted substantially similar as the LMD 600 of the first embodiment in Figures 18a to 18c, except for the doping type of the well and the epitaxial layers. Contrary to the well in Figure 18, which is of n-type 606, the well in Figure 23 is of p-type 603. And contrary to the epitaxial layer in Figure 18, which is of n-type 612, the epitaxial layer in Figure 20 is of p+type 610. Accordingly and as is indicated in in Figure 18b and Figure 23b, the diode transition shifts from the collector (116, 118) - well (608) transition in the first embodiment of Figure 18 to the emitter (110) - well (608) transition in the sixth embodiment of Figure 23.

    [0105] Figures 24a to 24c show one instance of a seventh embodiment of a lateral magneto diode (LMD) 600 as an example of a magnetic field sensor 100, namely a MOS-gated P-body magneto diode with dual emitter on p-type well and p-type epitaxial layer 610. Also this sensor is for use in a magnetic field sensor system according to the invention. The LMD 600 of the seventh embodiment in Figures 24a to 24c is layouted substantially similar as the LMD 600 of the sixth embodiment in Figures 23a to 23c, except for the layout of the emitter structure and that of the gate structure and its electrical connection. Instead of the one emitter structure 110 in the LMD 600 of the sixth embodiment, in the LMD 600 of the seventh embodiment, the emitter structure comprises a first portion emitter structure 112 and a second portion emitter structure 114, which are arranged on opposite sides of the symmetry plane 106 so as to be substantially mirror images of one another and which can be electrically contacted individually. Further, instead of the one gate structure 120 in the LMD 600 of the sixth embodiment, in the LMD 600 of the seeventh embodiment, the gate structure comprises a first gate structure 120 and a second gate structure 122. The second gate structure 122 is formed between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the second portion emitter structure 114 and can be electrically contacted individually. The first gate structure 120 is formed so as to surround the emitter structures 112 and 114 and the collector structures 116 and 118 and to be between the first portion emitter structure 112 and the first collector structure 116 and also between the second portion emitter structure 114 and the second collector structure 118 and can be electrically contacted individually and separately from the second gate structure 122. The second gate structure 122 can be used to further control the offset and/or the sensitivity of the LMD 600.

    [0106] For the LMD 600 with the dual gate (120 and 122) and double emitter (112 and 114) structure and having an p-type well 608, when the voltages applied at the first and second gate structures 120 and 122 are negative, the surface of the p-type well 608 everywhere, including between the first and second emitter structure 112 and 114 in Figures 24, is accumulated. Then, there are the two separate emitter structures 112 and 114. When the voltage at the second gate structure 122 is positive, the surface of the p-type well 608 between the first and second emitter structure 112 and 114 is depleted or even inverted. In this case, upon inversion, effectively, the first and second emitter structures 112 and 114 become one wide emitter, due to which the sensitivity will drop. Nevertheless, such operation enables to operate a modulation scheme for offset compensation, from which the offset can be extracted or reduced, as is explained in the following.

    [0107] According to the invention and as already stated above, the presently proposed approach toward offset cancellation is to combine one magnetic field sensor (in the following called the first magnetic field sensor 100) that is operated double-sided (as mentioned above and as will be explained in more detail below), i.e. via its first and second collector structures 116 and 118, with two additional identically layouted sensors (in the following called the second magnetic field sensor 200 and the third magnetic field sensor 300) that are each operated single-sided, i.e. via only a respective one of their collector structures and that are arranged in close vicinity to the first sensor 100 on the SOI substrate. The combination of the first magnetic field sensor 100 that is double-sidedly operated with the two additional sensors - the second and the third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300, is shown in Figures 25a and 25b using as an example three instances of the LMD 600 of the seventh embodiment shown in Figures 24a to 24c.

    [0108] In Figure 25a, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is operated double-sided in that an electric current is injected via the (n+-type, 602) emitter structures 112 and 114 and - due to the symmetric layout - separated in two current portions. The first current portion is registered at the (n+-type, 602) first collector structure 116 after it has passed through a portion of the p-type well 608, which portion is attributed a first current path 124. The second current portion is registered at the (n+-type, 602) second collector structure 118 after it has passed through another portion of the p-type well 608, which portion is attributed a second current path 126. The second magnetic field sensor 200 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its second emitter structure 214 and registered at its second collector structure 218 after it has passed through a portion of its p-type well 608, which portion is attributed a second current path 226 and which is analogue to the second current path 126 in the first magnetic field sensor 100. The third magnetic field sensor 300 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its first emitter structure 312 and registered at its first collector structure 316 after it has passed through a portion of its p-type well 608, which portion is attributed a first current path 324 and which is analogue to the first current path 124 in the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0109] In Figure 25b, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is operated as in Figure 25a. However, contrary to the situation in Figure 25a, the second magnetic field sensor 200 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its first emitter structure 212 and registered at its first collector structure 216 after it has passed through a portion of its p-type well 608, which portion is attributed a first current path 224 and which is analogue to the first current path 124 in the first magnetic field sensor 100. Also contrary to the situation in Figure 25a, the third magnetic field sensor 300 is operated single-sided in that an electric current is injected via its second emitter structure 314 and registered at its second collector structure 318 after it has passed through a portion of its p-type well 608, which portion is attributed a second current path 326 and which is analogue to the second current path 126 in the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0110] In both Figures 25a and 25b, by virtue of the differential current, i.e. the difference between the first and the second current portions, the first magnetic field sensor 100 is sensitive to the magnetic flux density B. And by virtue of the single-sided operation, the second and the third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 are not sensitive to the magnetic flux density B and can therefore be called dummy structures. Because of the occurrence of two pn-junctions as well as a diode transition on each of the first and second current path in each of the three lateral magneto diodes 600 which together form the magnetic field sensor system 10 shown in the Figures 25a and 25b, this LMD 600 based sensor system 10 of the Figures 25a and 25b can be operated in a resistance detection mode which in particular involves a Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20 (see Figures 26 to 28, analogue to Figures 4a and 4b and Figures 5a and 5b) as can the LMR 400 based sensor system 10 of the Figures 3a and 3b. In addition, the LMD 600 based sensor system 10 can be operated in a current detection mode, in which the electrical currents that flow through the first and second current path 124 and 126 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 shown in Figures 25a and 25b are detected and the differential (difference of currents) signal, which is a measure for magnetic flux density B, is formed and amplified. Aiming to obtain a compensation of the current offset, the differential current signal obtained from the LMD 600-based first magnetic field sensor 100 (which is operated double-sided) is combined with signals relating to the electric current that flows along the current path 224 in the second magnetic field sensor 200 and the electric current that floes along the current path 326 in the third magnetic field sensor 300, or alternatively the electric currents that flow along the current path 226 and along the current path 324 respectively in the second and third magnetic field sensor 200 and 300 (each of which is operated single-sided), as shown in Figures 26 to 28.

    [0111] Figure 26 shows a magnetic field sensor structure 10 formed by the electrical connection of the two dummy structure magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 to the first magnetic field sensor 100 of Figures 19a to 19c in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20. In particular, the LMD 600 based first, second and third magnetic field sensor 100, 200 and 300 are externally connected in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type circuitry 20, in which a first voltage divider 22 and a second voltage divider 24 are coupled between a, for example positive, supply voltage level 36 and a common ground voltage level 38. The Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20 involving LMD 600 based first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 shown in Figure 26 is analoguous to the Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20 involving LMR 400 based first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 shown in Figures 4 and 5.

    [0112] In Figure 26, the first voltage divider 22 comprises a structure comprising the first collector structure 216 and the emitter structure 212 of the second magnetic field sensor 200, and a structure comprising the first collector structure 116 and the emitter structure 112 of the first magnetic field sensor 100. In the first voltage divider 22, the first collector structure 216 of the second magnetic field sensor 200 is coupled to the supply voltage level 36, the emitter structure 212 of the second magnetic field sensor 200 is coupled to the first collector structure 116 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 and the emitter structure 112 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 is coupled to the common ground voltage level 38. The second voltage divider 24 comprises a structure comprising the second collector structure 318 and the emitter structure 314 of the third magnetic field sensor 300, and a structure comprising the second collector structure 118 and the emitter structure 114 of the first magnetic field sensor 100. In the second voltage divider 24, the second collector structure 318 of the third magnetic field sensor 300 is coupled to the supply voltage level 36, and the emitter structure 314 of the third magnetic field sensor 300 is coupled to the second collector structure 118 of the first magnetic field sensor 100, and the emitter structure 114 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 is coupled to the common ground voltage level 38 and thereby also to the other emitter structure 112 of the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0113] The sensor system 10 of Figure 26 further comprises a differential voltage output terminal, which in turn comprises a first voltage output terminal 28 and a second voltage output terminal 30. The first voltage output terminal 28 is coupled to a first node 32 in the connection between the emitter structure 212 of the second magnetic field sensor 200 and the first collector structure 116 of the first magnetic field sensor 100. The second voltage output terminal 30 is coupled to a second node 34 in the connection between the emitter structure 314 of the third magnetic field sensor 300 and the second collector structure 118 of the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0114] In the Wheatstone bridge type 20 electrical connection between the first magnetic field sensor 100 and the second and third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 of Figure 25b, the first current path 124 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 is compensated by the analogous first current path 224 of the second magnetic field sensor 200, and the second current path 126 of the first magnetic field sensor 100 is compensated by the analogous second current path 326 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. The differential signal Vout at the differential output, viz. the difference of the signal at the output 28 and the signal at the output 30 in Fig. 26, is a measure for the magnetic flux density B, whereby a compensation of the systematic offsets of the first and second current paths 124 and 126 in the first magnetic field sensor 100 is achieved by the electrical coupling as shown in Figure 26 with the first current path 224 in the second magnetic field sensor 200 and the second current path 326 in the third magnetic field sensor 300.

    [0115] Figure 27 shows a magnetic field sensor structure 10 formed by the electrical connection of the two dummy structure magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 to the first magnetic field sensor 100 of Figures 21a to 21c in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20. The Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20 involving LMD 600 based first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 shown in Figure 27 and its functioning are analoguous to the Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20 involving LMD 600 based first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 shown in Figure 26, and its description is the same as that for the circuit shown in Figure 26, so that it shall not be repeated here.

    [0116] Figure 28 shows a magnetic field sensor structure 10 formed by the electrical connection of the two dummy structure magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 to the first magnetic field sensor 100 of Figures 24a to 24c in the form of a Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20. The Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20 involving LMD 600 based first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 shown in Figure 28 and its functioning are analoguous to the Wheatstone bridge type circuit 20 involving LMD 600 based first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300 shown in Figures 26 and 27, and its description is the same as that for the circuit shown in Figure 26, so that it shall not be repeated here.

    [0117] The person skilled in the art will appreciate that the further schemes of compensating and averaging offset in a magnetic field sensor system 10 comprising triplet configurations comprising a double-sidedly operated first magnetic field sensor 100 and two singlesidedly operated (dummy) second and third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300, which are electrically connected together in the form of Wheatstone bridge type circuit and are implemented as LMRs 400, as disclosed above with reference to the Figures 6 to 9, can also and similarly be implemented for triplet configurations comprising first to third magnetic field sensors 100 to 300, which are electrically connected together in the form of Wheatstone bridge type circuit and are implemented as LMRs 600. The description of such LMD 600 based triplet configurations and the offset compensation and averaging schemes are the same as for the LMR 400 based triplet configurations provided with reference to the Figures 6 to 9, so that these shall not be repeated here.

    [0118] Figures 29 to 31 show sensor systems 10 (triplet configuration) comprising a LMD 600 based first, second and third magnetic field sensor 100, 200 and 300 (as exemplified in Figures 25a and 25b), which are electrically connected together so that a chopped differential current read-out circuitry is formed which is suitable for obtaining a signal that is a measure for the magnetic flux density B and that is output from a circuitry that achieves offset compensation, in analogy to the offset compensated, LMR 400 based sensor system 10 disclosed with reference to Figure 17. In particular, the sensor systems 10 shown in each of Figures 29 to 31 comprises a chopped differential magnetic field sensor read-out circuitry, which comprises, in addition to the LMD 600 based first, second and third magnetic field sensor 100, 200 and 300, a switchable 1-to-2 multiplexer 670, a first differential amplifier 680, a switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer 684, a second differential amplifier 691, a third differential amplifier 695, and clock circuitry, and which is adapted to provide a sensor output signal 699 that is a measure for the magnetic flux density B. In the sensor system 10 shown in Figure 29, the first to third magnetic field sensor 100 to 300 are implemented in the form of the LMD 600 according to the second embodiment shown in Figures 19a to 19c. In the sensor system 10 shown in Figure 30, the sensors 100 to 300 are implemented in the form of the LMD 600 according to the fourth embodiment shown in Figures 21a to 21c. Finally, in the sensor system 10 shown in Figure 31, the sensors 100 to 300 are implemented in the form of the LMD 600 according to the seventh embodiment shown in Figures 24a to 24c. The elements 100, 200, 300, 670, 680, 684, 691 and 695 of the sensor read-out circuitry are interconnected as follows.

    [0119] The first differential amplifier 680 comprises a "+"-type input terminal 681, a "-"-type input terminal 682 and an output terminal 683. The "+"-type input terminal 681 is coupled to one of the first and second collector structure 116, 118 of the first magnetic field sensor 100. The "-"-type input terminal 682 is coupled to the other one of the first and second collector structure 118, 116 of the first magnetic field sensor 100.

    [0120] The switchable 1-to-2 multiplexer 670 comprises a first and a second input terminal 671 and 672, and a first to fourth output terminal 673, 674, 675, 676, and is adapted to be switchable into an "a"-state and alternatively into a "b"-state. Both, the first and second input terminals 671 and 672 are, through a current source I, connected to a supply voltage (not referenced in the Figures 29 to 31). In the "a"-state, the first input terminal 671 is connected to the second output terminal 674 and the second input terminal 672 is connected to the fourth output terminal 676. In the "b"-state, the first input terminal 671 is connected to the first output terminal 673 and the second input terminal 672 is connected to the third output terminal 675. The first output terminal 673 is coupled to the first emitter structure 212 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The second output terminal 674 is coupled to the second emitter structure 214 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The third output terminal 675 is coupled to the second emitter structure 314 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. And the fourth output terminal 676 is coupled to the first emitter structure 312 of the third magnetic field sensor 300.

    [0121] The switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer 684 comprises a first to fourth input terminal 685, 686, 687, 688 and a first and a second output terminal 689, 690, and is adapted to be switchable into an "a"-state and alternatively into a "b"-state. In the "a"-state, the first input terminal 685 is connected to the first output terminal 689 and the third input terminal 687 is connected to the second output terminal 690. In the "b"-state, the second input terminal 686 is connected to the first output terminal 689 and the fourth input terminal 688 is connected to the second output terminal 690. The first input terminal 685 is coupled to the second collector structure 218 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The second input terminal 686 is coupled to the second collector structure 318 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. The third input terminal 687 is coupled to the first collector structure 316 of the third magnetic field sensor 300. The fourth input terminal 688 is coupled to the first collector structure 216 of the second magnetic field sensor 200. The clock circuitry (not shown) is adapted to switch the 1-to-2 multiplexer 670 and the 2-to-1 multiplexer 684 sequentially and simultaneously from their "a"-state to their "b"-state, from their "b"-state to their "a"-state, and so on.

    [0122] The second differential amplifier 691 comprises a "+"-type input terminal 692, a "-"-type input terminal 693 and an output terminal 694. The "-"-type input terminal 693 is coupled to first output terminal 689 of the 2-to-1 multiplexer 684, and the "+"-type input terminal 692 is coupled to second output terminal 690 of the 2-to-1 multiplexer 684.

    [0123] The third differential amplifier 695 comprises a "+"-type input terminal 696, a "-"-type input terminal 697 and an output terminal 698. The "+"-type input terminal 696 is coupled to output terminal 683 of the first differential amplifier 680, the "-"-type input terminal 697 is coupled to output terminal 694 of the second differential amplifier 691, and the output terminal 698 provides the sensor output signal 699.

    [0124] Due to the afore-mentioned mutual interconnection of the elements 100, 200, 300, 670, 683, 684, 691 and 695 of the sensor read-out circuitry, the signal that is output from the output terminal 683 of the first differential amplifier 680 represents the output signal from the first magnetic field sensor 100 plus its offset (or as stated in Figures 29 to 31: "sensor signal + offset1"). The signal that is output from the output terminal 694 of the second differential amplifier 691 represents the offset that is output signal from the dummy second and third magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 (or as stated in Figures 29 to 31: "offset2"). Depending on the state, i.e. "a"-state or "b"-state, of the combination of the switchable 1-to-2 multiplexer 670 and the switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer 684, the afore-mentioned signals assume values as indicated in the following table:
    state of multiplexer combination 670 and 684 (S1 and S2)signal+offset 1offset2
    a IC1 - IC2 (= I124- I126) IC"1 - IC'2 (= I324- I226)
    b IC1 - IC2 (= I124- I126) IC'1 - IC"2 (= I224- I326)


    [0125] In the "a"-state of the switchable multiplexers 670 and 684, the first, second and third magnetic field sensors 100, 200 and 300 are interconnected and operated in the modus shown in Figure 25a, whereas in the "b"-state of the multiplexers 670 and 684, the first, second and third magnetic field sensors 100, 200 and 300 are interconnected and operated in the modus shown in Figure 25b. The chopping resp. the alternative switching in the switchable multiplexers 670 and 684 between the "a"-state and the "b"-state provides for an averaging, sequentially in time, of the two offset compensation modi shown in Figures 25a and 25b. The signal that is output from the output terminal 698 of the third differential amplifier 695 represents the offset compensated output signal from the magnetic field sensor system 10 that is a measure of the magnetic flux density B, namely and as stated in Figures 29 to 31: "sensor signal + offset1 - offset2").

    [0126] The chopped operation of the switchable multiplexer 670 and 684 shown in Figures 29 to 31 is analogous to the chopped operation of the switchable multiplexers 40 and 60 shown in Figure 6 and the switchable multiplexers 670 and 684 shown in Figure 17 in the sense that the copped operation provides for an averaging, sequentially in time, of the operation configurations of the two dummy (second and third) magnetic field sensors 200 and 300 as shown, respectively, in Figures 3a and 3b (involving LMR 400 based sensors 100, 200, 300) and in Figures 16a and 16b (involving LMT 500 based sensors 100, 200, 300).

    [0127] Various embodiments of the invention may be considered in addition to the embodiments described hereinbefore. The embodiments described above shall be considered as examples for implementing the present invention. In addition to the embodiments of the invention described above, an examination of the specification, the detailed description and the appended drawings will show, that there are still other embodiments of the invention. Accordingly, many combinations, permutations, variations and modifications of the embodiments of the invention mentioned hereinbefore, even those which have not been mentioned hereinbefore, will nevertheless be comprised in the scope of the present invention as defined by the appended set of claims.

    LIST OF REFERENCE NUMERALS



    [0128] 
    10
    differential magnetic field sensor system
    20
    Wheatstone bridge type circuit
    22
    first voltage divider
    24
    second voltage divider
    26
    differential output terminal
    28
    first output terminal
    30
    second output terminal
    32
    first node
    34
    second node
    36
    supply voltage level, e.g. V+
    38
    common ground voltage level, e.g. GND
    40
    first 1-to-2 multiplexer
    42
    first input terminal
    44
    second input terminal
    46
    first output terminal
    48
    second output terminal
    50
    third output terminal
    52
    fourth output terminal
    60
    second 1-to-2 multiplexer
    62
    first input terminal
    64
    second input terminal
    66
    first output terminal
    68
    second output terminal
    70
    third output terminal
    72
    fourth output terminal
    74
    first state
    76
    second state
    78
    third state
    100
    first magnetic field sensor
    102
    surface layer portion
    104
    surface
    106
    symmetry plane
    110, E
    emitter structure
    112, E1
    first portion emitter structure
    114, E2
    second portion emitter structure
    116, C1
    first collector structure
    118, C2
    second collector structure
    120, G, G1
    first gate structure
    122, G2
    second gate structure
    124
    first current path
    126
    second current path
    128, B1
    first base structure
    130, B2
    second base structure
    132, P P
    contact
    200
    second magnetic field sensor
    202
    SOI layer portion
    204
    surface
    206
    symmetry plane
    210
    emitter structure
    212
    first portion emitter structure
    214
    second portion emitter structure
    216
    first collector structure
    218
    second collector structure
    220
    first gate structure
    222
    second gate structure
    224
    first current path
    226
    second current path
    300
    third magnetic field sensor
    302
    SOI layer portion
    304
    surface
    306
    symmetry plane
    310
    emitter structure
    312
    first portion emitter structure
    314
    second portion emitter structure
    316
    first collector structure
    318
    second collector structure
    320
    first gate structure
    322
    second gate structure
    324
    first current path
    326
    second current path
    400
    lateral magneto resistor
    401
    poly-gate structure
    402
    n+- type structure
    403
    p+- type structure
    405
    MTI
    406
    n-type well
    407
    STI
    410
    p-type epitaxial layer
    414
    buried oxide layer
    416
    silicon handle wafer
    500
    lateral magneto transistor
    501
    poly-gate structure
    502
    n+- type structure
    503
    p+- type structure
    504
    n-- type structure
    505
    MTI
    507
    STI
    508
    p-type well
    510
    p-type epitaxial layer
    514
    buried oxide layer
    516
    silicon handle wafer
    600
    lateral magneto diode
    601
    poly-gate structure
    602
    n+- type structure
    303
    p+- type structure
    604
    n-- type structure
    605
    MTI
    606
    n-type well
    607
    STI
    608
    p-type well
    610
    p-type epitaxial layer
    612
    n-type epitaxial layer
    614
    buried oxide layer
    616
    silicon handle wafer
    670
    switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer
    671
    first input terminal
    672
    second input terminal
    673
    first output terminal
    674
    second output terminal
    675
    third output terminal
    676
    fourth output terminal
    680
    first differential amplifier
    681
    "+"-type input
    682
    "-"-type input
    683
    output terminal
    684
    switchable 2-to-1 multiplexer
    685
    first input terminal
    686
    second input terminal
    687
    third input terminal
    688
    fourth input terminal
    689
    first output terminal
    690
    second output terminal
    691
    second differential amplifier
    692
    "+"-type input
    693
    "-"-type input
    694
    output terminal
    695
    third differential amplifier
    696
    "+"-type input
    697
    "-"-type input
    698
    output terminal
    699
    sensor output (signal)
    800
    array arrangement
    802
    magnetic field sensor
    804
    column [1...M]
    806
    row [1...N]
    810
    first triplet configuration
    812
    second triplet configuration
    814
    third triplet configuration
    816
    fourth triplet configuration



    Claims

    1. A differential magnetic field sensor system (10) comprising:

    a first, a second and a third magnetic field sensor (100, 200, 300), each of which is layouted substantially identically and comprises a, preferably silicon-on-insulator (SOI), surface layer portion (102) provided as a surface portion on a, preferably SOI, wafer and having a surface (104), on and/or in which is arranged:

    a central emitter structure (110, 210, 310) formed substantially mirror symmetrical with respect to a symmetry plane (106, 206, 306) that is substantially perpendicular to the surface (104, 204, 304),

    a first and a second collector structure (116, 216, 316; 118, 218, 318), each of which is arranged spaced apart from the emitter structure (110, 210, 310) and which are arranged on opposite sides of the symmetry plane (106, 206, 306) so as to be substantially mirror images of each other, wherein:

    the first magnetic field sensor (100) is operated double-sided in that its first collector structure (116) and its emitter structure (110) are externally connected via a first read-out circuitry and its second collector structure (118) and its emitter structure (110) are externally connected via a second read-out circuitry,

    the second magnetic field sensor (200) is operated single-sided in that its first collector structure (216) and its emitter structure (210) are externally connected via a third read-out circuitry, and

    the third magnetic field sensor (300) is operated single-sided in that its second collector structure (318) and its emitter structure (310) are externally connected via a fourth read-out circuitry;

    characterized in that the first, the second and the third magnetic field sensor (100, 200, 300) are externally connected to form a Wheatstone bridge type circuitry (20), in which a first and a second voltage divider (22, 24) are coupled between a, for example positive, supply voltage level (36) and a common ground voltage level (38), wherein:

    the first voltage divider (22) comprises the structure comprising the first collector structure (216) and the emitter structure (210) of the second magnetic field sensor (200), and the structure comprising the first collector structure (116) and the emitter structure (110) of the first magnetic field sensor (100), and

    the second voltage divider (24) comprises the structure comprising the second collector structure (318) and the emitter structure (310) of the third magnetic field sensor (300), and the structure comprising the second collector structure (118) and the emitter structure (110) of the first magnetic field sensor (100).


     
    2. The sensor system according to claim 1, wherein each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor (100, 200, 300) has a lateral dimension and wherein the distance between the first and the second magnetic field sensor and the distance between the first and the third magnetic field sensor is less than ten times, preferably less than five times and more preferably less than two times the lateral dimension.
     
    3. The sensor system according to claim 1 or 2, wherein in each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor (100, 200, 300), the emitter structure (110, 210, 310) is formed by a first portion emitter structure (112, 212, 312) and a second portion emitter structure (114, 214, 314), wherein the first portion and the second portion emitter structure (112, 114; 212, 214; 312, 314) are arranged adjacent to each other, on opposite sides of the symmetry plane (106, 206, 306) and so as to be substantially mirror images of one another.
     
    4. The sensor system according to any one of the claims 1 to 3, wherein each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor (100, 200, 300) is implemented as a lateral magneto-resistor (LMR) (400), in which the emitter structure (110; 112, 114) and the first and the second collector structure (116, 118) are formed as n+-type structures (402) on and/or in the surface (104) of an n-type well (406).
     
    5. The sensor system according to claim 4, wherein the first, the second, the third and the fourth read-out circuitry are one of a resistor (124, 126, 224, 226, 324, 326) read-out, a voltage read-out or a current read-out circuitry.
     
    6. The sensor system according to any one of the claims 1 to 3, wherein each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor (100, 200, 300) is implemented as a lateral magneto-transistor (LMT) (500), in which the emitter structure (110; 112, 114) and the first and the second collector structure (116, 118) are formed as n+-type structures (502) on and/or in the surface (104) of a p-type well (508).
     
    7. The sensor system according to claim 6, wherein the first, the second, the third and the fourth read-out circuitry are a current read-out circuitry.
     
    8. The sensor system according to any one of the claims 1 to 3, wherein each of the first, second and third magnetic field sensor (100, 200, 300) is implemented as a lateral magneto-diode (LMD) (600), in which one of the following configurations is implemented:

    (1) the emitter structure (110; 112, 114) is formed as an n+-type structure (602) and the first and the second collector structure (116, 118) are formed as p+-type structures (603), all on and/or in the surface (104) of an n-type well (606),

    (2) the emitter structure (110; 112, 114) is formed as a p+-type structure (603) and the first and the second collector structure (116, 118) are formed as n+-type structures (602), all on and/or in the surface (104) of an n-type well (606),

    (3) the emitter structure (110; 112, 114) is formed as an n+-type structure (602) and the first and the second collector structure (116, 118) are formed as p+-type structures (603), all on and/or in the surface (104) of a p-type well (608), or

    (4) the emitter structure (110; 112, 114) is formed as an p+-type structure (603) and the first and the second collector structure (116, 118) are formed as n+-type structures (602), all on and/or in the surface (104) of a p-type well (608).


     
    9. The sensor system according to claim 8, wherein the first, the second, the third and the fourth read-out circuitry are one of a resistor read-out, a voltage read-out or a current read-out circuitry.
     
    10. The sensor system according to claim 1,
    wherein in the first voltage divider (22),
    the first collector structure (216) of the second magnetic field sensor (200) is coupled to the supply voltage level (36), the emitter structure (210) of the second magnetic field sensor (200) is coupled to the first collector structure (116) of the first magnetic field sensor (100) and the emitter structure (110) of the first magnetic field sensor (100) is coupled to the common ground voltage level (38),
    wherein in the second voltage divider (24),
    the second collector structure (318) of the third magnetic field sensor (300) is coupled to the supply voltage level (36), the emitter structure (310) of the third magnetic field sensor (300) is coupled to the second collector structure (118) of the first magnetic field sensor (100),
    and wherein the sensor system (10) further comprises a differential voltage output terminal comprising a first and a second voltage output terminal (28, 30),
    wherein the first voltage output terminal (28) is coupled to a first node (32) in the connection between the emitter structure (210) of the second magnetic field sensor (200) and the first collector structure (116) of the first magnetic field sensor (100), and
    the second voltage output terminal (30) is coupled to a second node (34) in the connection between the emitter structure (310) of the third magnetic field sensor (300) and the second collector structure (118) of the first magnetic field sensor (100).
     
    11. The sensor system according to claim 10, further comprising a first 1-to-2 multiplexer (40) and a second 1-to-2 multiplexer (60), wherein:

    the first 1-to-2 multiplexer (40) has a first and a second input terminal (42, 44) and a first to fourth output terminal (46, 48, 50, 52), and is adapted to be switchable into an "a" state and alternatively into a "b" state, wherein

    in the "a" state, the first output terminal (46) is connected to the first input terminal (42) and the third output terminal (50) is connected to the second input terminal (44), and

    in the "b" state, the second output terminal (48) is connected to the first input terminal (42) and the fourth output terminal (52) is connected to the second input terminal (44), wherein further

    the first input terminal (42) is coupled to the second input terminal (44) and to the supply voltage level (36),

    the first output terminal (46) is connected to the second collector structure (318) of the third magnetic field sensor (300),

    the second output terminal (48) is connected to the first collector structure (316) of the third magnetic field sensor (300),

    the third output terminal (50) is connected to the first collector structure (216) of the second magnetic field sensor (200), and

    the fourth output terminal (52) is connected to the second collector structure (218) of the second magnetic field sensor (200); and wherein

    the second 1-to-2 multiplexer (60) has a first and a second input terminal (62, 64) and a first to fourth output terminal (66, 68, 70, 72), and is adapted to be switchable into an "a" state and alternatively into a "b" state, wherein

    in the "a" state, the second output terminal (68) is connected to the first input terminal (62) and the fourth output terminal (72) is connected to the second input terminal (64), and

    in the "b" state, the first output terminal (66) is connected to the first input terminal (62) and the third output terminal (70) is connected to the second input terminal (64), wherein further

    the first input terminal (62) is coupled to the second collector structure (118) of the first magnetic field sensor (100) and to the second voltage output terminal (30) of the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry (20),

    the second input terminal (64) is coupled to the first collector structure (116) of the first magnetic field sensor (100) and to the first voltage output terminal (28) of the Wheatstone bridge type circuitry (20),

    the first output terminal (66) is connected with the fourth output terminal (72) and coupled to the emitter structure (210) of the second magnetic field sensor (200),

    the second output terminal (68) is connected with the third output terminal (70) and coupled to the emitter structure (310) of the third magnetic field sensor (300).


     
    12. The sensor system according to any preceding claim, further comprising external switching circuitry adapted to cyclically switch the magnetic field sensor system from a first state (74) to a second state (76), from the second state (76) to a third state (78), from the third state (78) to the first state (74), and so on, wherein:

    in the first state (74), the first magnetic field sensor (100) is operated double-sided via its first collector structure (116) to its emitter structure (110) and via its second collector structure (118) to its emitter structure (110), the second magnetic field sensor (200) is operated single-sided via its first collector structure (216) to its emitter structure (210), and the third magnetic field sensor (300) is operated single-sided via its second collector structure (318) to its emitter structure (310),

    in the second state (76), the first magnetic field sensor (100) of the first state has become the third magnetic field sensor, the second magnetic field sensor (200) of the first state has become the first magnetic field sensor and the third magnetic field sensor (300) of the first state has become the second magnetic field sensor,

    in the third state (78), the first magnetic field sensor (100) of the first state has become the second magnetic field sensor, the second magnetic field sensor (200) of the first state has become the third magnetic field sensor and the third magnetic field sensor (300) of the first state has become the first magnetic field sensor.


     
    13. A two-dimensional magnetic field sensor array arrangement (800) comprising an M x N array of magnetic field sensors (802), the array (800) having M columns (804) and N rows (806), the M columns (804) being numbered by an integer index i which can assume any value from 1 to M, the N rows (806) being numbered by an integer index j which can assume any value from 1 to N, wherein M and N are integers that are greater than or equal to 3,
    wherein each magnetic field sensor (802) comprises a, preferably silicon-on-insulator (SOI), surface layer portion (102) and has a surface (104), on and/or in which is arranged:

    a central emitter structure (110; 112, 114) formed substantially mirror symmetrical with respect to a symmetry plane (106) that is substantially perpendicular to the surface (104),

    a first and a second collector structure (116, 118), each of which is arranged spaced apart from the emitter structure (110; 112, 114) and which are arranged on opposite sides of the symmetry plane (106) so as to be substantially mirror images of each other,

    wherein each magnetic field sensor (i, j) is referenced by the integer index i indicating the column (804) to which the sensor (802) belongs and by the integer index j indicating the row (806) to which the sensor (802) belongs,

    the magnetic field sensor array arrangement (800) further comprising external connection circuitry configured such that triplets (810, 812, 814, 816) of magnetic field sensors (802; 100, 200, 300) are formed according to one of the following triplet configurations (810, 812, 814, 816):

    (a) (i, j), (i, j+1) and (i, j+2) for any i in the range from 1 to M and any j in the range from 1 to N-2,

    (b) (i, j), (i+1, j) and (i+2, j) for any i in the range from 1 to M-2 and any j in the range from 1 to N,

    (c) (i, j), (i+1, j+1) and (i+2, j+2) for any i in the range from 1 to M-2 and any j in the range from 1 to N-2,

    (d) (i, j), (i-1, j+1) and (i-2, j+2) for any i in the range from 3 to M and any j in the range from 1 to N-2, and

    (e) a random selection of three magnetic field sensors out of all available magnetic field sensors (i, j) for any i in the range from 1 to M and any j in the range from 1 to N,

    and wherein each of the triplet configurations (a) through (e) is configured to form a differential magnetic field sensor system (10) according to any one of the claims 1 to 12.


     
    14. The two-dimensional magnetic field sensor array arrangement (800) according to claim 13, further comprising external connection circuitry and clock circuitry defining clock cycles starting at time instances t, t+Δt, t+2Δt, and so on, such that each triplet configuration (810, 812, 814, 816) of magnetic field sensors (802; 100, 200, 300) is sequentially stepped within the array arrangement (800) according one of the following positional schemes:

    (1) position at time instance t: (i, j),
    position at time instance t+Δt: (i+1, j) or (i-1, j), and
    position at time instance t+2Δt: (i+2, j) or (i-2, j);

    (2) position at time instance t: (i, j),
    position at time instance t+Δt: (i, j+1) or (i, j-1), and
    position at time instance t+2Δt: (i, j+2) or (i, j-2);

    (3) position at time instance t: (i, j),
    position at time instance t+Δt: (i+1, j+1) or (i-1, j-1), and
    position at time instance t+2Δt: (i+2, j+2) or (i-2, j-2); and

    (4) position at time instance t: (i, j),
    position at time instance t+Δt: (i+1, j-1) or (i-1, j+1), and
    position at time instance t+2Δt: (i+2, j-2) or (i-2, j+2);

    wherein the stated sequential positions (i, j) refer to the position in the array arrangement (800) of the first magnetic field sensor (100) of the triplet configuration (810, 812, 814, 816), while the second and the third magnetic field sensor (200, 300) of the triplet configuration (810, 812, 814, 816) are located at respective fixed relative positions with respect to the first magnetic field sensor (100).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Ein Differenz Magnetfeldsensorsystem (10), welches aufweist:

    einen ersten, einen zweiten und einen dritten Magnetfeldsensor (100, 200, 300), wobei jeder von denen im Wesentlich identisch gestaltet ist und aufweist einen, vorzugsweise Silizium auf Isolator (SOI), Oberflächen Schicht Teil (102), welcher bereitgestellt ist als ein Oberflächen Teil auf einem, vorzugsweise SOI, Wafer und eine Oberfläche (104) hat, auf und/oder in welcher angeordnet ist:

    eine zentrale Emitterstruktur (110, 210, 310), welche im Wesentlichen spiegelsymmetrisch geformt ist in Bezug auf eine Symmetrieebene (106, 206, 306), welche im Wesentlichen senkrecht zu der Oberfläche (104, 204, 304) ist,

    eine erste und eine zweite Kollektorstruktur (116, 216, 316, 118, 218, 318), wobei jede von denen beabstandet von der Emitterstruktur (110, 210, 310) angeordnet ist und welche auf entgegengesetzten Seiten von der Symmetrieebene (106, 206, 306) angeordnet sind, um so im Wesentlichen Spiegelbilder von einander zu sein, wobei

    der erste Magnetfeldsensor (100) zweiseitig betrieben wird, so dass seine erste Kollektorstruktur (116) und seine Emitterstruktur (110) extern via eines ersten Ausleseschaltkreises verbunden sind und seine zweite Kollektorstruktur (118) und seine Emitterstruktur (110) extern via eines zweiten Ausleseschaltkreises verbunden sind,

    der zweite Magnetfeldsensor (200) einseitig betrieben wird, so dass seine erste Kollektorstruktur (216) und seine Emitterstruktur (210) extern via einem dritten Ausleseschaltkreis verbunden sind, und

    der dritte Magnetfeldsensor (300) einseitig betrieben wird, so dass seine zweite Kollektorstruktur (318) und seine Emitterstruktur (310) extern via eines vierten Ausleseschaltkreises verbunden sind;

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass
    der erste, der zweite und der dritte Magnetfeldsensor (100, 200, 300) extern verbunden sind, um einen Wheatstone-Brücken-Typ Schaltkreis (20) zu formen, in welchem ein erster und ein zweite Spannungsteiler (22, 24) gekoppelt sind zwischen einen, zum Beispiel positiven, Versorgungsspannungslevel (36) und einen gemeinsamen Massespannungslevel (38), wobei:

    der erste Spannungsteiler (22) aufweist die Struktur, welche die erste Kollektorstruktur (216) und die Emitterstruktur (210) von dem zweiten Magnetfeldsensor (200) aufweist, und die Struktur, welche die erste Kollektorstruktur (116) und die Emitterstruktur (110) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100) aufweist, und

    der zweite Spannungsteiler (24) aufweist die Struktur, welche die zweite Kollektorstruktur (318) und die Emitterstruktur (310) von dem dritten Magnetfeldsensor (300) aufweist, und die Struktur, welche die zweite Kollektorstruktur (118) und die Emitterstruktur (110) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100) aufweist.


     
    2. Das Sensorsystem gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei jeder von dem ersten, zweiten und dritten Magnetfeldsensor (100, 200, 300) eine laterale Dimension hat und wobei die Distanz zwischen dem ersten und dem zweiten Magnetfeldsensor und die Distanz zwischen dem ersten und dem dritten Magnetfeldsensor zehnmal geringer, vorzugsweise fünfmal geringer und noch verzugsweise zweimal geringer als die laterale Dimension ist.
     
    3. Das Sensorsystem gemäß Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei in jedem von dem ersten, zweiten und dritten Magnetfeldsensor (100, 200, 300), die Emitterstruktur (110, 210, 310) geformt ist mittels einer ersten Teil Emitterstruktur (112, 212, 312) und einer zweiten Teil Emitterstruktur (114, 214, 314), wobei die erste Teil Emitterstruktur und die zweite Teil Emitterstruktur (112, 114, 212, 214, 312, 314) angeordnet sind benachbart zueinander, auf entgegensetzten Seiten von der Symmetrieebene (106, 206, 306), und um so im Wesentlichen Spiegelbilder voneinander zu sein.
     
    4. Das Sensorsystem gemäß einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei jeder von dem ersten, zweiten und dritten Magnetfeldsensor (100, 200, 300) als ein lateraler Magneto-Widerstand (LMR) (400) implementiert ist, in welchem die Emitterstruktur (110, 112, 114) und die erste und die zweite Kollektorstruktur (116, 118) geformt sind als n+-Typ Strukturen (402) auf und/oder in der Oberfläche (104) von einem n-Typ Quelle (406).
     
    5. Das Sensorsystem gemäß Anspruch 4, wobei der erste der zweite, der dritte und der vierte Ausleseschaltkreis sind eines von einem Widerstand (124, 126, 224, 226, 324, 326) Auslese-, einem Spannung Auslese- oder einem Strom Ausleseschaltkreis.
     
    6. Das Sensorsystem gemäß einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei jeder von dem ersten, zweiten und dritten Magnetfeldsensor (100, 200, 300) als ein lateraler Magneto-Transistor (LMT) (500) implementiert ist, in welchem die Emitterstruktur (110, 112, 114) und die erste und die zweite Kollektorstruktur (116, 118) als n+-Typ Strukturen (502) geformt sind auf und/oder in der Oberfläche (104) von einer p-Typ Quelle (508).
     
    7. Das Sensorsystem gemäß Anspruch 6, wobei der erste, der zweite, der dritte und der vierte Ausleseschaltkreis ein Strom Ausleseschaltkreis sind.
     
    8. Das Sensorsystem gemäß einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei jeder von dem ersten, zweiten und dritten Magnetfeldsensor (100, 200, 300) als eine laterale Magneto-Diode (LMD) (600) implementiert ist, in welcher eine der folgenden Konfigurationen implementiert ist:

    (1) die Emitterstruktur (110; 112, 114) ist als eine n+-Typ Struktur (602) geformt und die erste und die zweite Kollektorstruktur (116, 118) sind als p+-Typ Strukturen (603) geformt, alle auf und/oder in der Oberfläche (104) von einer n- Typ Quelle (606),

    (2) die Emitterstruktur (110; 112, 114) ist als eine p+-Typ Struktur (603) geformt und die erste und die zweite Kollektorstruktur (116, 118) sind als n+-Typ Strukturen (602) geformt, alle auf und/oder in der Oberfläche (104) von einer n- Typ Quelle (606),

    (3) die Emitterstruktur (110; 112, 114) ist als eine n+-Typ Struktur (602) geformt und die erste und die zweite Kollektorstruktur (116, 118) sind als p+-Typ Strukturen (603) geformt, alle auf und/oder in der Oberfläche (104) von einer p- Typ Quelle (608), oder

    (4) die Emitterstruktur (110; 112, 114) ist als eine p+-Typ Struktur (603) geformt und die erste und die zweite Kollektorstruktur (116, 118) sind als n+-Typ Strukturen (602) geformt, alle auf und/oder in der Oberfläche (104) von einer p- Typ Quelle (608).


     
    9. Das Sensorsystem gemäß Anspruch 8, wobei der erste, der zweite, der dritte und der vierte Ausleseschaltkreis sind eines von einem Widerstand Auslese-, einem Spannung Auslese- oder einem Strom Ausleseschaltkreis.
     
    10. Das Sensorsystem gemäß Anspruch 1,

    wobei in dem ersten Spannungsteiler (22),

    die erste Kollektorstruktur (216) von dem zweiten Magnetfeldsensor (200) mit dem Versorgungsspannungslevel (36) gekoppelt ist, die Emitterstruktur (210) von dem zweiten Magnetfeldsensor (200) mit der ersten Kollektorstruktur (116) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100) gekoppelt ist und die Emitterstruktur (110) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100) mit dem gemeinsamen Massespannungslevel (38) gekoppelt ist,

    wobei in dem zweiten Spannungsteiler (24),

    die zweite Kollektorstruktur (318) von dem dritten Magnetfeldsensor (300) mit dem Versorgungsspannungslevel (36) gekoppelt ist, die Emitterstruktur (310) von dem dritten Magnetfeldsensor (300) mit der zweiten Kollektorstruktur (118) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100) gekoppelt ist,

    und wobei das Sensorsystem (10) ferner einen Differenz Spannungsausgang Anschluss aufweist, welcher einen ersten und einen zweiten Spannungsausgang Anschluss (28, 30) aufweist,

    wobei der erste Spannungsausgang Anschluss (28) gekoppelt ist mit einem ersten Knoten (32) in der Verbindung zwischen der Emitterstruktur (210) von dem zweiten Magnetfeldsensor (200) und der ersten Kollektorstruktur (116) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100), und

    der zweite Spannungsausgang Anschluss (30) gekoppelt ist mit einem zweiten Knoten (34) in der Verbindung zwischen der Emitterstruktur (310) von dem dritten Magnetfeldsensor (300) und der zweiten Kollektorstruktur (118) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100).


     
    11. Das Sensorsystem gemäß Anspruch 10, ferner aufweisend einen ersten 1-bis-2 Multiplexer (40) und einen zweiten 1-bis-2 Multiplexer (60), wobei:

    der erste 1-bis-2 Multiplexer (40) einen ersten und einen zweiten Eingangsanschluss (42, 44) und einen ersten bis vierten Ausgangsanschluss (46, 48, 50, 52) hat, und eingerichtet ist, schaltbar in einen "a" Zustand und alternativ in einen "b" Zustand zu sein, wobei

    in dem "a" Zustand der erste Ausgangsanschluss (46) mit dem ersten Eingangsanschluss (42) verbunden ist und der dritte Ausgangsanschluss (50) mit dem zweiten Eingangsanschluss (44) verbunden ist, und

    in dem "b" Zustand der zweite Ausgangsanschluss (48) mit dem ersten Eingangsanschluss (42) verbunden ist und der vierte Ausgangsanschluss (52) mit dem zweiten Eingangsanschluss (44) verbunden ist, wobei ferner

    der erste Eingangsanschluss (42) gekoppelt ist mit dem zweiten Eingangsanschluss (44) und mit dem Versorgungsspannungslevel (36),

    der erste Ausgangsanschluss (46) verbunden ist mit der zweiten Kollektorstruktur (318) von dem dritten Magnetfeldsensor (300),

    der zweite Ausgangsanschluss (48) verbunden ist mit der ersten Kollektorstruktur (316) von dem dritten Magnetfeldsensor (300),

    der dritte Ausgangsanschluss (50) verbunden ist mit der ersten Kollektorstruktur (216) von dem zweiten Magnetfeldsensor (200), und der vierte Ausgangsanschluss (52) verbunden ist mit der zweiten Kollektorstruktur (218) von dem zweiten Magnetfeldsensor (200); und wobei

    der zweite 1-bis-2 Multiplexer (60) hat einen ersten und einen zweiten Eingangsanschluss (62, 64) und einen ersten bis vierten Ausgangsanschluss (66, 68, 70, 72), und eingerichtet ist, schaltbar in einen "a" Zustand und alternativ in einem "b" Zustand zu sein, wobei

    in dem "a" Zustand der zweite Ausgangsanschluss (68) mit dem ersten Eingangsanschluss (62) verbunden ist und der vierte Ausgangsanschluss (72) verbunden ist mit dem zweiten Eingangsanschluss (64), und

    in dem "b" Zustand der erste Ausgangsanschluss (66) mit dem ersten Eingangsanschluss (62) verbunden ist und der dritte Ausgangsanschluss (70) mit dem zweiten Eingangsanschluss (64) verbunden ist, wobei ferner

    der erste Eingangsanschluss (62) gekoppelt ist mit der zweiten Kollektorstruktur (118) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100) und mit dem zweiten Spannung Ausgangsanschluss (30) von dem Wheatstone-Brücken-Typ Schaltkreis (20),

    der zweite Eingangsanschluss (64) gekoppelt ist mit der ersten Kollektorstruktur (116) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100) und mit dem ersten Spannung Ausgangsanschluss (28) von dem Wheatstone-Brücken-Typ Schaltkreis (20),

    der erste Ausgangsanschluss (66) verbunden ist mit dem vierten Ausgangsanschluss (72) und gekoppelt ist mit der Emitterstruktur (210) von dem zweiten Magnetfeldsensor (200),

    der zweite Ausgangsanschluss (68) verbunden ist mit dem dritten Ausgangsanschluss (70) und gekoppelt ist mit der Emitterstruktur (310) von dem dritten Magnetfeldsensor (300).


     
    12. Das Sensorsystem gemäß einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, welches ferner aufweist einen externen schaltenden Schaltkreis, welcher eingerichtet ist, um das Magnetfeldsensorsystem zyklisch zu schalten von einem ersten Zustand (74) zu einem zweiten Zustand (76), von dem zweiten Zustand (76) zu einem dritten Zustand (78), von dem dritten Zustand (78) zu dem ersten Zustand (74), und so weiter, wobei:

    in dem ersten Zustand (74)

    der erste Magnetfeldsensor (100) zweiseitig betrieben ist via seiner ersten Kollektorstruktur (116) zu seiner Emitterstruktur (110) und via seiner zweiten Kollektorstruktur (118) zu seiner Emitterstruktur (110),

    der zweite Magnetfeldsensor (200) einseitig betrieben ist via seiner ersten Kollektorstruktur (216) zu seiner Emitterstruktur (210), und

    der dritte Magnetfeldsensor (300) einseitig betrieben ist via seiner zweiten Kollektorstruktur (318) zu seiner Emitterstruktur (310),

    in dem zweiten Zustand (76), der erste Magnetfeldsensor (100) von dem ersten Zustand der dritte Magnetfeldsensor geworden ist, der zweite Magnetfeldsensor (200) von dem ersten Zustand der erste Magnetfeldsensor geworden ist und der dritte Magnetfeldsensor (300) von dem ersten Zustand der zweite Magnetfeldsensor geworden ist,

    in dem dritten Zustand (78), der Magnetfeldsensor (100) von dem ersten Zustand der zweite Magnetfeldsensor geworden ist, der zweite Magnetfeldsensor (200) von dem ersten Zustand der dritte Magnetfeldsensor geworden ist und der dritte Magnetfeldsensor (300) von dem ersten Zustand der erste Magnetfeldsensor geworden ist.


     
    13. Eine zwei-dimensionale Magnetfeldsensor Arrayanordnung (800), welche aufweist ein M x N Array von Magnetfeldsensoren (802), wobei das Array (800) M Spalten (804) und N Reihen (806) hat, wobei die M Spalten (804) mittels eines Integer Index i nummeriert sind, welcher jeden Wert von 1 bis M annehmen kann, wobei die N Reihen (806) mittels eines Integer Index j nummeriert sind, welcher jeden Wert von 1 bis N annehmen kann, wobei M und N Integer sind welche größer als oder gleich 3 sind,

    wobei jeder Magnetfeldsensor (802) aufweist einen, vorzugsweise Silizium auf Isolator (SOI), Oberflächen Schicht Teil (102), und eine Oberfläche (104) hat, auf und/ oder in welcher angeordnet ist:

    eine zentrale Emitterstruktur (110, 112, 114), welche im Wesentlichen spiegelsymmetrisch geformt ist in Bezug auf eine Symmetrieebene (106), welche im Wesentlichen senkrecht zu der Oberfläche (104) ist,

    eine erste und eine zweite Kollektorstruktur (116, 118), wobei jede von denen beabstandet von der Emitterstruktur (110; 112, 114) angeordnet ist und welche auf entgegengesetzten Seiten von der Symmetrieebene (106) angeordnet sind, um so im Wesentlichen Spiegelbilder von einander zu sein,

    wobei jeder Magnetfeldsensor (i, j) mittels des Integer Index i referenziert ist, welcher die Spalte (804) anzeigt zu welcher der Sensor (802) gehört und mittels des Integer Index j die Reihe (806) anzeigt zu welcher der Sensor (802) gehört,

    wobei die Magnetfeldsensor Arrayanordnung (800) ferner aufweist einen externen Verbindungsschaltkreis, welcher konfiguriert ist, so dass Triplets (810, 812, 814, 816) von Magnetfeldsensoren (802; 100, 200, 300) geformt sind gemäß einer der folgenden Triplet Konfigurationen (810, 812, 814, 816):

    (a) (i, j), (i, j+i) und (i, j+2) für jedes i in dem Bereich von 1 bis M und jedes j in dem Bereich von 1 bis N-2,

    (b) (i, j), (i+1, j) und (i+2, j) für jedes i in dem Bereich von 1 bis M-2 und jedes j in dem Bereich von 1 bis N,

    (c) (i j), (i+1, j+1) und (i+2, j+2) für jedes i in dem Bereich von 1 bis M-2 und jedes j in dem Bereich von 1 bis N-2,

    (d) (i, j), (i-1, j+1) und (i-2, j+2) für jedes i in dem Bereich von 3 bis M und jedes j in dem Bereich von 1 bis N-2, und

    (e) eine Zufallsauswahl von drei Magnetfeldsensoren aus allen verfügbaren Magnetfeldsensoren (i, j) für jedes i in dem Bereich von 1 bis M und jedes j in dem Bereich von 1 bis N,
    und wobei jede der Triplet Konfigurationen (a) bis (e) konfiguriert ist, ein Differenz Magnetfeldsensorsystem (10) gemäß einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 12 zu formen.


     
    14. Die zwei-dimensionale Magnetfeldsensor Arrayanordnung (800) gemäß Anspruch 13, welche ferner aufweist einen externen Verbindungsschaltkreis und Taktschaltkreis welcher Taktzyklen definiert, welche starten bei Zeitinstanzen t, t+Δt, t+2Δt, usw., so dass jede Triplet Konfiguration (810, 812, 814, 816) von Magnetfeldsensoren (802; 110, 200, 300) sequenziell gestuft ist innerhalb der Arrayanordnung (800) gemäß einem der folgenden positionellen Schemata:

    (1) Position bei Zeitinstanz t: (i, j),
    Position bei Zeitinstanz t+Δt: (i+1, j) oder (i-1, j), und
    Position bei Zeitinstanz t+2Δt: (i+s, j) oder (i-2, j);

    (2) Position bei Zeitinstanz t: (i, j),
    Position bei Zeitinstanz t+Δt: (i, j+1) oder (i, j-1), und
    Position bei Zeitinstanz t+2Δt: (i, j+2) oder (i, j-2);

    (3) Position bei Zeitinstanz t: (i, j),
    Position bei Zeitinstanz t+Δt: (i+1, j+1) oder (i-1, j-1), und
    Position bei Zeitinstanz t+2Δt: (i+2, j+2) oder (i-2, j-2); und

    (4) Position bei Zeitinstanz t: (i, j),
    Position bei Zeitinstanz t+Δt: (i+1, j-1) oder (i-1, j+1), und
    Position bei Zeitinstanz t+2Δt: (i+2, j-2) oder (i-2, j+2);

    wobei die festgelegten sequenziellen Positionen (i, j) sich auf Positionen in der Arrayanordnung (800) von dem ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100) von der Triplet Konfiguration (810, 812, 814, 816) beziehen, während der zweite und der dritte Magnetfeldsensor (200, 300) von der Triplet Konfiguration (810, 812, 814, 816) an entsprechenden festen relativen Positionen angeordnet sind in Bezug auf den ersten Magnetfeldsensor (100).
     


    Revendications

    1. Système capteur de champ magnétique différentiel (10), comprenant :

    un premier, un deuxième et un troisième capteur de champ magnétique (100, 200, 300) dont chacun est agencé de façon sensiblement identique et comprend une partie couche de surface, de préférence de type silicium sur isolant (SOI), (102) fournie à titre de partie surface sur une tranche, de préférence de type SOI, et présentant une surface (104) sur et/ou dans laquelle sont disposées :

    une structure d'émetteur centrale (110, 210, 310) formée sensiblement en symétrie de miroir par rapport à un plan de symétrie (106, 206, 306) qui est sensiblement perpendiculaire à la surface (104, 204, 304),

    une première et une deuxième structure de collecteur (116, 216, 316 ; 118, 218, 318) dont chacune est disposée à distance de la structure d'émetteur (110, 210, 310) et qui sont disposées de côtés opposés du plan de symétrie (106, 206, 306) de façon à constituer sensiblement des images miroir l'une de l'autre, dans lequel :

    le premier capteur de champ magnétique (100) bénéficie d'un fonctionnement double face en ce sens que sa première structure de collecteur (116) et sa structure d'émetteur (110) sont reliées en externe par le biais d'une première circuiterie de lecture et sa deuxième structure de collecteur (118) et sa structure d'émetteur (110) sont reliées en externe par le biais d'une deuxième circuiterie de lecture,

    le deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200) bénéficie d'un fonctionnement monoface en ce sens que sa première structure de collecteur (216) et sa structure d'émetteur (210) sont reliées en externe par le biais d'une troisième circuiterie de lecture, et

    le troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300) bénéficie d'un fonctionnement monoface en ce sens que sa deuxième structure de collecteur (318) et sa structure d'émetteur (310) sont reliées en externe par le biais d'une quatrième circuiterie de lecture ;

    caractérisé en ce que

    le premier, le deuxième et le troisième capteur de champ magnétique (100, 200, 300) sont reliés en externe pour former une circuiterie de type pont de Wheatstone (20) dans laquelle un premier et un deuxième diviseur de tension (22, 24) sont couplés entre un niveau de tension d'alimentation, par exemple positif, (36) et un niveau de tension de masse commune (38), dans lequel :

    le premier diviseur de tension (22) comprend la structure comprenant la première structure de collecteur (216) et la structure d'émetteur (210) du deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200), et la structure comprenant la première structure de collecteur (116) et la structure d'émetteur (110) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100), et

    le deuxième diviseur de tension (24) comprend la structure comprenant la deuxième structure de collecteur (318) et la structure d'émetteur (310) du troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300), et la structure comprenant la deuxième structure de collecteur (118) et la structure d'émetteur (110) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100).


     
    2. Système capteur selon la revendication 1, dans lequel chacun des premier, deuxième et troisième capteurs de champ magnétique (100, 200, 300) présente une dimension latérale, et dans lequel la distance séparant le premier et le deuxième capteur de champ magnétique et la distance séparant le premier et le troisième capteur de champ magnétique sont inférieures à dix fois, de préférence inférieures à cinq fois, et idéalement inférieures à deux fois la dimension latérale.
     
    3. Système capteur selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel, dans chacun des premier, deuxième et troisième capteurs de champ magnétique (100, 200, 300), la structure d'émetteur (110, 210, 310) est formée d'une première structure d'émetteur partielle (112, 212, 312) et d'une deuxième structure d'émetteur partielle (114, 214, 314), dans lequel la première et la deuxième structure d'émetteur partielle (112, 114 ; 212, 214 ; 312, 314) sont disposées en position adjacente l'une à l'autre, de côtés opposés du plan de symétrie (106, 206, 306) et de façon à constituer sensiblement des images miroir l'une de l'autre.
     
    4. Système capteur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans lequel chacun des premier, deuxième et troisième capteurs de champ magnétique (100, 200, 300) est réalisé sous forme d'une magnétorésistance latérale (LMR) (400) dans laquelle la structure d'émetteur (110 ; 112, 114) et la première et la deuxième structure de collecteur (116, 118) prennent la forme de structures de type n+ (402) sur et/ou dans la surface (104) d'un caisson de type n (406).
     
    5. Système capteur selon la revendication 4, dans lequel la première, la deuxième, la troisième et la quatrième circuiterie de lecture prennent la forme d'une circuiterie dans le groupe constitué par une circuiterie de lecture de résistance (124, 126, 224, 226, 324, 326), une circuiterie de lecture de tension ou une circuiterie de lecture de courant.
     
    6. Système capteur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans lequel chacun des premier, deuxième et troisième capteurs de champ magnétique (100, 200, 300) est réalisé sous forme d'un magnétotransistor latéral (LMT) (500) dans lequel la structure d'émetteur (110 ; 112, 114) et la première et la deuxième structure de collecteur (116, 118) prennent la forme de structures de type n+ (502) sur et/ou dans la surface (104) d'un caisson de type p (508).
     
    7. Système capteur selon la revendication 6, dans lequel la première, la deuxième, la troisième et la quatrième circuiterie de lecture prennent la forme d'une circuiterie de lecture de courant.
     
    8. Système capteur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans lequel chacun des premier, deuxième et troisième capteurs de champ magnétique (100, 200, 300) est réalisé sous forme d'une magnétodiode latérale (LMD) (600) dans laquelle l'une des configurations suivantes est réalisée :

    (1) la structure d'émetteur (110 ; 112, 114) prend la forme d'une structure de type n+ (602) et la première et la deuxième structure de collecteur (116, 118) prennent la forme de structures de type p+ (603), toutes sur et/ou dans la surface (104) d'un caisson de type n (606),

    (2) la structure d'émetteur (110 ; 112, 114) prend la forme d'une structure de type p+ (603) et la première et la deuxième structure de collecteur (116, 118) prennent la forme de structures de type n+ (602), toutes sur et/ou dans la surface (104) d'un caisson de type n (606),

    (3) la structure d'émetteur (110 ; 112, 114) prend la forme d'une structure de type n+ (602) et la première et la deuxième structure de collecteur (116, 118) prennent la forme de structures de type p+ (603), toutes sur et/ou dans la surface (104) d'un caisson de type p (608), ou

    (4) la structure d'émetteur (110 ; 112, 114) prend la forme d'une structure de type p+ (603) et la première et la deuxième structure de collecteur (116, 118) prennent la forme de structures de type n+ (602), toutes sur et/ou dans la surface (104) d'un caisson de type p (608).


     
    9. Système capteur selon la revendication 8, dans lequel la première, la deuxième, la troisième et la quatrième circuiterie de lecture prennent la forme d'une circuiterie dans le groupe constitué par une circuiterie de lecture de résistance, une circuiterie de lecture de tension ou une circuiterie de lecture de courant.
     
    10. Système capteur selon la revendication 1,
    dans lequel, dans le premier diviseur de tension (22),
    la première structure de collecteur (216) du deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200) est couplée au niveau de tension d'alimentation (36), la structure d'émetteur (210) du deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200) est couplée à la première structure de collecteur (116) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100) et la structure d'émetteur (110) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100) est couplée au niveau de tension de masse commune (38),
    dans lequel, dans le deuxième diviseur de tension (24),
    la deuxième structure de collecteur (318) du troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300) est couplée au niveau de tension d'alimentation (36), la structure d'émetteur (310) du troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300) est couplée à la deuxième structure de collecteur (118) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100),
    et lequel système capteur (10) comprend en outre une borne de sortie de tension différentielle comprenant une première et une deuxième borne de sortie de tension (28, 30),
    dans lequel la première borne de sortie de tension (28) est couplée à un premier noeud (32) dans la liaison entre la structure d'émetteur (210) du deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200) et la première structure de collecteur (116) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100), et
    la deuxième borne de sortie de tension (30) est couplée à un deuxième noeud (34) dans la liaison entre la structure d'émetteur (310) du troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300) et la deuxième structure de collecteur (118) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100).
     
    11. Système capteur selon la revendication 10, comprenant en outre un premier multiplexeur 1 vers 2 (40) et un deuxième multiplexeur 1 vers 2 (60), dans lequel :

    le premier multiplexeur 1 vers 2 (40) possède une première et une deuxième borne d'entrée (42, 44) et une première à une quatrième borne de sortie (46, 48, 50, 52), et est adapté à être commutable sur un état "a" et, alternativement, sur un état "b", dans lequel

    dans l'état "a", la première borne de sortie (46) est reliée à la première borne d'entrée (42) et la troisième borne de sortie (50) est reliée à la deuxième borne d'entrée (44), et

    dans l'état "b", la deuxième borne de sortie (48) est reliée à la première borne d'entrée (42) et la quatrième borne de sortie (52) est reliée à la deuxième borne d'entrée (44), et dans lequel en outre

    la première borne d'entrée (42) est couplée à la deuxième borne d'entrée (44) et au niveau de tension d'alimentation (36),

    la première borne de sortie (46) est reliée à la deuxième structure de collecteur (318) du troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300),

    la deuxième borne de sortie (48) est reliée à la première structure de collecteur (316) du troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300),

    la troisième borne de sortie (50) est reliée à la première structure de collecteur (216) du deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200), et

    la quatrième borne de sortie (52) est reliée à la deuxième structure de collecteur (218) du deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200) ; et dans lequel

    le deuxième multiplexeur 1 vers 2 (60) possède une première et une deuxième borne d'entrée (62, 64) et une première à une quatrième borne de sortie (66, 68, 70, 72), et est adapté à être commutable sur un état "a" et, alternativement, sur un état "b", dans lequel

    dans l'état "a", la deuxième borne de sortie (68) est reliée à la première borne d'entrée (62) et la quatrième borne de sortie (72) est reliée à la deuxième borne d'entrée (64), et

    dans l'état "b", la première borne de sortie (66) est reliée à la première borne d'entrée (62) et la troisième borne de sortie (70) est reliée à la deuxième borne d'entrée (64), et dans lequel en outre

    la première borne d'entrée (62) est couplée à la deuxième structure de collecteur (118) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100) et à la deuxième borne de sortie de tension (30) de la circuiterie de type pont de Wheatstone (20),

    la deuxième borne d'entrée (64) est couplée à la première structure de collecteur (116) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100) et à la première borne de sortie de tension (28) de la circuiterie de type pont de Wheatstone (20),

    la première borne de sortie (66) est reliée à la quatrième borne de sortie (72) et couplée à la structure d'émetteur (210) du deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200),

    la deuxième borne de sortie (68) est reliée à la troisième borne de sortie (70) et couplée à la structure d'émetteur (310) du troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300).


     
    12. Système capteur selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant en outre une circuiterie de commutation externe adaptée à commuter cycliquement le système capteur de champ magnétique d'un premier état (74) sur un deuxième état (76), du deuxième état (76) sur un troisième état (78), du troisième état (78) sur le premier état (74) et ainsi de suite, dans lequel :

    dans le premier état (74), le premier capteur de champ magnétique (100) bénéficie d'un fonctionnement double face par le biais de sa première structure de collecteur (116) vers sa structure d'émetteur (110) et par le biais de sa deuxième structure de collecteur (118) vers sa structure d'émetteur (110), le deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200) bénéficie d'un fonctionnement monoface par la biais de sa première structure de collecteur (216) vers sa structure d'émetteur (210) et le troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300) bénéficie d'un fonctionnement monoface par le biais de sa deuxième structure de collecteur (318) vers sa structure d'émetteur (310),

    dans le deuxième état (76), le premier capteur de champ magnétique (100) du premier état est devenu le troisième capteur de champ magnétique, le deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200) du premier état est devenu le premier capteur de champ magnétique et le troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300) du premier état est devenu le deuxième capteur de champ magnétique,

    dans le troisième état (78), le premier capteur de champ magnétique (100) du premier état est devenu le deuxième capteur de champ magnétique, le deuxième capteur de champ magnétique (200) du premier état est devenu le troisième capteur de champ magnétique et le troisième capteur de champ magnétique (300) du premier état est devenu le premier capteur de champ magnétique.


     
    13. Agencement capteur de champ magnétique bidimensionnel en matrice (800) comprenant une matrice M x N de capteurs de champ magnétique (802), la matrice (800) possédant M colonnes (804) et N lignes (806), les M colonnes (804) étant numérotées par un indice entier i susceptible de prendre une valeur quelconque entre 1 et M, les N lignes (806) étant numérotées par un indice entier j susceptible de prendre une valeur quelconque entre 1 et N, M et N étant des entiers supérieurs ou égaux à 3,
    dans lequel chaque capteur de champ magnétique (802) comprend une partie couche de surface, de préférence de type silicium sur isolant (SOI), (102) et présente une surface (104) sur et/ou dans laquelle sont disposées :

    une structure d'émetteur centrale (110 ; 112, 114) formée sensiblement en symétrie de miroir par rapport à un plan de symétrie (106) qui est sensiblement perpendiculaire à la surface (104),

    une première et une deuxième structure de collecteur (116, 118) dont chacune est disposée à distance de la structure d'émetteur (110 ; 112, 114) et qui sont disposées de côtés opposés du plan de symétrie (106) de façon à constituer sensiblement des images miroir l'une de l'autre,

    dans lequel chaque capteur de champ magnétique (i, j) est référencé par l'indice entier i indiquant la colonne (804) à laquelle le capteur (802) appartient et par l'indice entier j indiquant la ligne (806) à laquelle le capteur (802) appartient,

    l'agencement capteur de champ magnétique en matrice (800) comprenant en outre une circuiterie de liaison externe configurée de manière à former des triplets (810, 812, 814, 816) de capteurs de champ magnétique (802 ; 100, 200, 300) conformément à l'une des configurations de triplet (810, 812, 814, 816) qui suivant :

    (a) (i, j), (i, j+1) et (i, j+2) pour tout i dans l'intervalle de 1 à M et tout j dans l'intervalle de 1 à N-2,

    (b) (i, j), (i+1, j) et (i+2, j) pour tout i dans l'intervalle de 1 à M-2 et tout j dans l'intervalle de 1 à N,

    (c) (i, j), (i+1, j+1) et (i+2, j+2) pour tout i dans l'intervalle de 1 à M-2 et tout j dans l'intervalle de 1 à N-2,

    (d) (i, j), (i-1, j+1) et (i-2, j+2) pour tout i dans l'intervalle de 3 à M et tout j dans l'intervalle de 1 à N-2, et

    (e) une sélection aléatoire de trois capteurs de champ magnétique parmi la totalité des capteurs de champ magnétique (i, j) disponibles pour tout i dans l'intervalle de 1 à M et tout j dans l'intervalle de 1 à N,

    et dans lequel chacune des configurations de triplet (a) à (e) est configurée pour former un système capteur de champ magnétique différentiel (10) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 12.


     
    14. Agencement capteur de champ magnétique bidimensionnel en matrice (800) selon la revendication 13, comprenant en outre une circuiterie de liaison externe et une circuiterie d'horloge définissant des cycles d'horloge démarrant à des instants t, t+Δt, t+2Δt et ainsi de suite, de manière à échelonner séquentiellement chaque configuration de triplet (810, 812, 814, 816) de capteurs de champ magnétique (802 ; 100, 200, 300) au sein de l'agencement en matrice (800) conformément à l'un des schémas de position qui suivant :

    (1) position à l'instant t : (i, j),
    position à l'instant t+Δt : (i+1, j) ou (i-1, j), et
    position à l'instant t+2Δt : (i+2, j) ou (i-2, j) ;

    (2) position à l'instant t : (i, j),
    position à l'instant t+Δt : (i, j+1) ou (i, j-1), et
    position à l'instant t+2Δt : (i, j+2) ou (i, j-2) ;

    (3) position à l'instant t : (i, j),
    position à l'instant t+Δt : (i+1, j+1) ou (i-1, j-1), et
    position à l'instant t+2Δt : (i+2, j+2) ou (i-2, j-2) ; et

    (4) position à l'instant t : (i, j),
    position à l'instant t+Δt : (i+1, j-1) ou (i-1, j+1), et
    position à l'instant t+2Δt : (i+2, j-2) ou (i-2, j+2) ;

    dans lequel les positions séquentielles (i, j) indiquées se rapportent à la position dans l'agencement en matrice (800) du premier capteur de champ magnétique (100) de la configuration de triplet (810, 812, 814, 816), alors que le deuxième et le troisième capteur de champ magnétique (200, 300) de la configuration de triplet (810, 812, 814, 816) occupent des positions relatives respectives fixes par rapport au premier capteur de champ magnétique (100).
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description