A newly designed wearable magnetic metamaterial could help make MRI scans crisper, faster, and cheaper — ScienceDaily

It could glance like a weird bike helmet, or a piece of equipment uncovered in Doc Brown’s lab in Back to the Future, but this gadget created of plastic and copper wire is a technological breakthrough with the possible to revolutionize health care imaging. Irrespective of its playful appear, the device is really a metamaterial, packing in a ton of physics, engineering, and mathematical know-how.

It was produced by Xin Zhang, a College or university of Engineering professor of mechanical engineering, and her team of scientists at BU’s Photonics Centre. They’re gurus in metamaterials, a variety of engineered structure developed from little unit cells that may possibly be unspectacular by yourself, but when grouped alongside one another in a specific way, get new superpowers not observed in nature. Metamaterials, for occasion, can bend, take up, or manipulate waves — this kind of as electromagnetic waves, sound waves, or radio waves. Every unit mobile, also named a resonator, is usually arranged in a repeating pattern in rows and columns they can be made in distinctive sizes and shapes, and positioned at distinct orientations, based on which waves they are created to impact.

Metamaterials can have lots of novel capabilities. Zhang, who is also a professor of electrical and laptop or computer engineering, biomedical engineering, and products science and engineering, has developed an acoustic metamaterial that blocks seem without stopping airflow (picture quieter jet engines and air conditioners) and a magnetic metamaterial that can improve the good quality of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment utilised for health care diagnosis.

Now, Zhang and her workforce have taken their perform a action more with the wearable metamaterial. The dome-shaped device, which fits over a person’s head and can be worn throughout a mind scan, boosts MRI functionality, generating crisper photographs that can be captured at two times the standard pace.

The helmet is fashioned from a sequence of magnetic metamaterial resonators, which are created from 3D-printed plastic tubes wrapped in copper wiring, grouped on an array, and precisely arranged to channel the magnetic field of the MRI device. Putting the magnetic metamaterial — in helmet kind or as the originally made flat array — in close proximity to the element of the system to be scanned, says Zhang, could make MRIs significantly less pricey and much more time effective for medical practitioners, radiologists, and sufferers — all although increasing impression good quality.

Eventually, the magnetic metamaterial has the prospective to be used in conjunction with less costly lower-field MRI devices to make the know-how more widely out there, specially in the building environment.

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Supplies delivered by Boston University. Unique penned by Jessica Colarossi. Be aware: Written content might be edited for model and length.