MRI Machine at the Nanoscale Breaks World Records

MRI Machine at the Nanoscale Breaks World Records
NMR microscope, consisting of a thin wire and a small magnetic ball (fake colour purple). The purple ball induces a uniform magnetic field, so that the surrounding atomic nuclei all line up with their axis pointing in the same direction. The researchers send radio waves through their sample, causing some nuclei to flip the other way, and measure how long it takes before they flip back again. Source

Previously, I have written about ‘an optical device called multiphoton microscope or endoscope‘. This two material reduced the necessity of taking tissue samples during medical examinations and operations.

Similarly, a new device devised from MRI machine application. PhD students from Leiden Institute of Physics have developed a new NMR microscope. This new NMR microscope allows physicians to analyse basic physical process and to study Alzheimer patients’ brain proteins.

Generally, physicians use MRI machines if patient’s had any knee injury. They used it to look right through the skin and detects the problem. For this, doctors need to make sure a fact that patient body’s atomic nuclei are electrically charged and revolve around their axis. Just like small electromagnets, they generate their own magnetic field.

After placing knee in that magnetic field’s motion, the nuclei line up with their axis pointing in the same direction. The MRI machine next sends a particular type of radio waves through the knee. Thus it leads some axes to flip. When the signal was turned off, nuclei flip goes back after some time, under the excitement of small radio wave. Those waves give the atom’s location and provide physicians with an accurate image of the knee.


NMR stands for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance offers medical application in MRI. This is developed to conduct basic research on materials. Through this, physicians analyse relaxation time scale, at which the nuclei flip back. It also gives huge information about properties of materials.


Leiden PhD students Jelmer Wagenaar and Arthur de Haan developed this new NMR microscope. This microscope is used to analyse materials at the nanoscale. Through this, they can study the working of physical processes at the level of a group of atoms. This NMR microscope operates at a temperature of 42 milliKelvin (near about absolute zero). At last, they achieved a thousand times higher sensitivity as compared to current NMR microscopes.


This novel microscope has various applications like in systems displaying strange behaviour in extreme cold. Doctors may found it useful to analyse brain of Alzheimer patients at the molecular level. Through this, doctors can detect how iron is locked up in proteins.

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