Features | Partner Sites | Information | LinkXpress
Sign In
Demo Company

Nanoscale MRI Devised to Be Similar to an Atomic Force Microscope

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 26 Feb 2013
Image: A tiny defect inside a diamond, called a nitrogen vacancy (NV), enabled researchers to detect the magnetic resonance of organic molecules in the same way an MRI produces images of a tissue or an organ (Photo courtesy of T. Staudacher and F. Reinhard).
Image: A tiny defect inside a diamond, called a nitrogen vacancy (NV), enabled researchers to detect the magnetic resonance of organic molecules in the same way an MRI produces images of a tissue or an organ (Photo courtesy of T. Staudacher and F. Reinhard).
German and American scientists have opened the possibility for nanoscale magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by exploiting the minuscule flaws in diamonds to sense the magnetic resonance properties of molecules.

MRI shows the tiny specifics of living tissues, tumors, diseased organs inside the body without the need for surgery or X-rays. This new technology could potentially visualize down to the level of atoms. Clinicians could make visual diagnoses of an individual’s molecules—examining damage on a strand of DNA, watching molecules misfold, or identifying a cancer cell by the proteins on its surface.

Dr. Carlos Meriles, associate professor of physics at the City College of New York (NY, USA), and an international team of researchers at the University of Stuttgart (Germany) have published their new findings in the February 1, 2013, issue of the journal Science.

“It is bringing MRI to a level comparable to an atomic force microscope,” said Prof. Meriles, referring to the device that tracks the shape of atoms or the pull on a molecule to measure its strength. A nanoscale MRI could display how a molecule moves without touching it. Standard MRI typically gets to a resolution of 100 microns,” about the width of a human hair, said Prof. Meriles. “With extraordinary effort, it can get down to about 10 microns”—the width of a couple of blood cells. Nanoscale MRI would have a resolution 1,000 to 10,000 times better.

To try to capture magnetic resonance on such a small level, the investigators took advantage of the spin of protons in an atom, a characteristic typically used to study quantum computing. Specifically, they used miniscule imperfections in diamonds. Diamonds are crystals comprised of nearly entirely of carbon atoms. When a nitrogen atom stays next to an area where a carbon atom is missing, however, it creates a defect known as a nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center.

“These imperfections turn out to have a spin—like a little compass—and have some remarkable properties,” noted Prof. Meriles. In the last few years, researchers realized that these NV centers could serve as very sensitive sensors. They can pick up the magnetic resonance of nearby atoms in a cell, for example. But unlike the atoms in a cell, the NVs shine when a light is directed at them, signaling what their spin is. If you illuminate it with green light it flashes red back. “It is a form of what is called optically detected magnetic resonance,” he said. Similar to a boat flashing Morse code on the sea, the sensor “sends back flashes to say it is alive and well.”

Prof. Mireles has written on the hypothetic foundations of the research and proposed the project to the scientists, led by Prof. Jörg Wrachtrup, a physicist at the University of Stuttgart, with the help of postdoctoral researcher Friedemann Reinhard and collaborators from the University of Bochum (Germany) and the University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei, Anhui). Prof. Wrachtrup is head of a leading group studying such defects.

“The NV can also be thought of as an atomic magnet. You can manipulate the spin of that atomic magnet just like you do with MRI by applying a radio frequency or radio pulses,” Prof. Meriles explained. The NV responds, such as when one shines a green light at it when the spin is pointing up, it will respond with brighter red light. A down spin gives a dimmer red light.

Tobias Staudacher, a graduate student, and the first author in this study, employed NVs in the laboratory that had been created just below the diamond’s surface by bombarding it with nitrogen atoms. The scientists identified MR within a film of organic substance applied to the surface, just as one might study a thin film of cells or tissue.

“Ultimately,” concluded Prof. Meriles, “One will use a nitrogen-vacancy mounted on the tip of an atomic force microscope—or an array of NVs distributed on the diamond surface—to allow a scanning view of a cell, for example, to probe nuclear spins with a resolution down to a nanometer or perhaps better.”

Related Links:
City College of New York
University of Stuttgart
University of Bochum



view channel
Image: Multimodal CT images obtained 2 hours 18 minutes after symptom onset in an 87-year-old woman with an NIH Stroke Scale of 15 and left hemisphere symptoms (Photo courtesy of Radiology 2015:257;2;510-520, and RSNA 2015).

Faster and Simpler Treatment for Stroke Patients Using Multiphase CT

The results of a new study show that multiphase Computed Tomography (CT) angiography brain-imaging could enable clinicians to treat Acute Ischemic Stroke (AIS) patients faster, and better, potentially saving lives.... Read more

Nuclear medicine

view channel
Image: The whole body of a rat can be imaged for blood clots with one PET scan, overlaid here on an MRI image, using the FBP8 probe. The arrow points to a blood clot (Photo courtesy of the American Chemical Society).

Single PET Scan Could Replace Multiple Modalities in Detecting Blood Clots

Researchers have presented an experimental technique that could be used to discover blood clots using a single, fast, whole-body scan, at the 250th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical... Read more

General/Advanced Imaging

view channel

Leading Vendor to Implement and Install Enterprise Imaging Platform for UK NHS

An agreement has been announced by a leading imaging platform provider for the implementation of the first Enterprise Imaging platform, part of a long-term agreement for the management of imaging data, for the UK City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust. The agreement covers the capture, storage, and exchange of... Read more

Imaging IT

view channel

Carestream Updates Healthcare IT Platform

Carestream has released updates for an advanced Internet Technology (IT) healthcare platform at the Röntgenveckan Radiology congress in Malmo (Sweden). The IT platform facilitates collaboration by enabling sharing of critical patient information such as Radiology images, videos, reports, and services with groups outside... Read more

Industry News

view channel

Viztek Acquired by Konica Minolta to Complement End-to-End Healthcare IT Solutions

Konica Minolta Medical Imaging (Wayne, NJ, USA), a leading medical diagnostic primary imaging provider, has announced the completed acquisition of Viztek (Garner, NC, USA), a company providing Healthcare Internet Technology solutions. The acquisition enhances Konica Minolta’s end-to-end healthcare IT capabilities, including... Read more
Copyright © 2000-2015 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.