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Novel sensor detects changes in MR magnetic field for real-time correction

por Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | May 07, 2024
The MR sensor or magnetometer uses laser light and gas to measure magnetic fields. Photo: University of Copenhagen
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen and Hvidovre Hospital have developed a novel sensor designed to identify errors in MR scans using laser light and gas, which they say could significantly enhance the quality, cost-effectiveness, and speed of MR exams.

Fluctuations in the strength of MR magnetic fields can introduce errors that necessitate frequent, costly calibrations. Current technologies for monitoring these fields have limitations because they can interfere with the magnetic field due to their electric components.

The new sensor, or magnetometer, developed by Hans Stærkind, a postdoctoral researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute and the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR) at Hvidovre Hospital, utilizes a novel approach involving laser light transmitted through fiber optics and a glass container filled with cesium gas. This setup allows the sensor to measure magnetic field changes without the disturbances caused by traditional electric sensors.
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Stærkind’s device, resembling a 1990s stereo system, sends laser light into four sensors within the scanner. These sensors contain cesium gas, which absorbs the light at specific frequencies. The light’s frequency changes in response to magnetic field variations, allowing the sensor to map disturbances accurately and rapidly.

The technology not only pinpoints where and how the magnetic field changes but also facilitates immediate corrections to imaging errors through software adjustments. The prototype, already functional at DRCMR, shows promise for integrating this technology directly into MR scanners.

Ongoing research aims to refine the sensor’s accuracy and adaptability to various scanning scenarios. Stærkind hopes the sensor will attract the attention of major MR manufacturers, paving the way for broader application in clinical settings.

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