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Looking Ahead at Imaging Technology

Mon, 01/20/2014 - 1:52pm
Adrian Wilson, Head of Technologies, Element Six

Q: What’s in store for the medical device sector in 2014?

Today’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies, aiding the measurement of illness diagnose and treatment, even when stretched to their limits, have not allowed for resolution beyond a few micrometers and traditionally require expensive and bulky equipment. This is due to the restricted spatial resolution that can be achieved due to the limited sensitivity of the detectors.

Techniques to image processes on the cellular level require the ability to image magnetic fields on the nanoscale, and would enable a new revolution in medical science, for example, by allowing the study of protein structure or for detailed imaging of a living cell.

Using Element Six’s chemical vapor deposition techniques (CVD) diamond engineered with a specific defect—known as a nitrogen vacancy (NV) defect—researchers have been able to use quantum-assisted techniques to control this single defect. This milestone result has identified the ability to measure magnetic fields at room temperature on a nano level—dubbed diamond enabled nano-MRI.

Further research has developed a technique with the ability to measure real-time observations of internal cellular processes such as cell death, evolution and division, and how cells are affected by disease.

These new diamond techniques hold the potential for the future development of an NV scanning probe magnetometer with nanometer resolution, providing for the first time a tool for investigating neural science with applications in Alzheimer or other neurodegenerative research and in pharmacology.

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