Pocket-sized magnetic resonance imaging

Monday, 06 April, 2009 | Supplied by: Magritek

Research scientists have developed small portable MRI scanners that perform their services in the field; for example, to examine ice cores.

The Magnetic Resonance working group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Technology Engineering IBMT has collaborated with the New Zealand company Magritek to develop small portable devices. Instead of the large superconducting magnets that have to be cooled with liquid helium and nitrogen, extra-strong permanent magnets are installed in the devices. There is no need for cooling. To make this possible, several permanent magnets are so arranged that the magnetic field lines overlap to form a homogeneous field. In this way, the developers have succeeded in developing small, less expensive and, above all, portable magnetic resonance spectrometers that can even be powered by batteries.

Physicians and researchers can benefit from the mobile pocket-sized nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) devices: the first ‘Kea NMR moles’ are already in use in the Antarctic, helping researchers to study the effects of environmental change by analysing the structure of ice masses or drilled ice cores.

There are many more potential applications for such devices, including delivering important data — directly and online — during production processes. Industrial manufacturers of sausages, cheese or lollies, for instance, can use them to analyse the fat or water content of their food products. The spectrometers can also be employed to measure the humidity of materials, characterise the molecular structure of polymers, or determine the quality of trees for wood production.

Online: www.magritek.com
Phone: 0011 644 920 7671
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