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CWRU physicists invent "supershielding" for MRI devices

CLEVELAND--The work of a thief is not the only way to rob you of the use of your credit cards and computers. Magnetic fields can zap the power from life's modern conveniences.

Robert Brown and Shmaryu Shvartsman, physicists in the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, have created an armor they call "supershielding." The physicists will report on their new invention in the article, "Supershielding: Confinement of Magnetic and Electric Fields," tentatively scheduled for an August issue of Physical Review Letters.

The shielding completely contains magnetic fields as large as 10,000 times the Earth's natural magnetic field. Some of today's important technologies produce fields this great and wreak havoc with the identification codes on credit cards, wipe out computer memories, and become a mini-radio station, giving off a strong signal that interferes with commercial television and radio stations.

Brown, the Institute Professor of Physics, and Shvartsman, senior research scientist in CWRU's Department of Physics, recently made a joint application with Picker International to the U.S. Patent Office for a patent on supershielding. Michael Morich and Labros Petropoulos, Picker engineering scientists and Brown's former students, are also named on the patent application, along with another former graduate student, Hiroyuki Fujita.

The researchers have designed a method that can remarkably suppress the magnetic fields outside high-tech devices such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.

Previously, the suppression has been carried out by positioning an iron barrier or a set of secondary coils outside the main coil that produces the original unshielded field. In each case, the field is left alive inside where it is needed to do its work.

Brown says that Picker International, a pioneer in computerized axial tomography (CAT scans) and magnetic resonance technology, and other manufacturers of imaging equipment are att
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Contact: Susan Griffith
sbg4@po.cwru.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
19-Jul-1999


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