Open Sesame: Portable Devices May Achieve Magnetic Resonance Views
Weiss, P., Science News
Like modern doctors, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners don't do house calls. They and related nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) instruments for chemical analysis require that a patient or sample come to a lab or clinic and squeeze into the inner recesses of a machine.
Although a few small magnetic resonance probes exist for field applications such as checking tires' stiffness, those sensors glean only crude information from their subjects compared with what conventional scanners can do, according to Bernhard Blumich of RWTH Aachen University in Germany. To do better, such devices would have to generate more-uniform magnetic fields.
Now, an open, or "single-sided" sensor created by Blumich and other scientists in Germany and the United States has done just that, at least fleetingly. The researchers report in an upcoming Science that they have built a phone-book-size system that briefly projects a uniform magnetic field into a pea-size space just above the system's trough-shaped magnet.
Although still far from making images with such a sensor, the team has demonstrated the device's ability by using it to identify chemical signatures, or "shifts," of fluorine compounds--a feat that requires a highly uniform magnetic field.
"It's important because for the first time ever, one has been able to resolve chemical shifts with a single-sided apparatus," says Carlos A. Meriles of the City University of New York, one of the team members. …