Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on a molecular scale
(ED NOTE: Like the Church Lady said, of Dana Carvey fame, “Isn’t that Special?”. Geez, gettin down to the nitty gritty, the molecular level. Don’t have to be a damn genius to say, if this occurs, big things will happen, and even the Proofreaders say that!)
Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics Amir Yacoby (left) and physics research assistant Yuliya Dovzhenko work in the lab where Yacoby and his colleagues have developed an MRI system that can produce nanoscale images. “What we’ve demonstrated in this new paper is the ability to get very high spatial resolution, and a fully operational MRI technology,” Yacoby said. “This work is directed towards obtaining detailed information on molecular structure. If we can image a single molecule and identify that there is a hydrogen atom here and a carbon there…we can obtain information about the structure of many molecules that cannot be imaged by any other technique today.
“Though not yet precise enough to capture atomic-scale images of a single molecule, the system has already been used to capture images of single electron-spins. As the system is refined, Yacoby said he expects the system will eventually be precise enough to peer into the structure of molecules.While the system designed by Yacoby and colleagues operates in much the same way as conventional MRIs do, the similarities end there.”What we’ve done, essentially, is to take a conventional MRI and miniaturize it,” Yacoby said. “Functionally, it operates in the same way, but in doing that, we’ve had to change some of the components, and that has enabled us to achieve far greater resolution than conventional systems.
“While conventional systems, Yacoby said, can achieve resolutions of less than a millimeter, they are effectively limited by the magnetic field gradient they can produce. Since those gradients fade dramatically within just feet, conventional systems built around massive magnets designed to create a field large enough to image an object – like a human – that may be a meter or more in length.The nano-scale system devised by Yacoby and colleagues, by comparison, uses a magnet that’s just 20 nanometers in diameter – about 300 times smaller than a red blood cell – but is able to generate a magnetic field gradient 100,000 times larger than even the most powerful conventional systems.
The difference, Yacoby explained, is that the nano-scale magnet can be brought incredibly close – to within a few billionths of a meter – to the object being imaged.”By doing that, we can achieve spatial resolution that’s far better than one nanometer,” Yacoby said.Their departures from conventional MRI systems, however, didn’t end there.To construct a sensor that could read how molecules react to that magnetic field gradient, Yacoby and colleagues turned to a field that would appear to be unconnected to imaging – quantum computing.
|Source: Harvard University|