CWRU physicists invent "supershielding" for MRI devices

empting to make smaller machines that are less claustrophobic for the patient. As the need for shorter and more open systems has grown, along with the desire for higher-quality shielding, the old methods of shielding have not kept pace.

Two years ago, Picker posed a shielding question to Brown and his research group at CWRU. Morich and Petropoulos formulated the specific problem. In response, the CWRU researchers came up with a surprising theoretical solution.

Brown explains that a shielding coil is used again, but the secondary and primary currents have to "dance" together to achieve supershielding, where the opposing coil currents cancel out the magnetic forces emitted.

He likens the results to a dam with a hole in it. "Instead of plugging the hole with a finger to stop the leakage, the dam can be discarded and the finger holds everything back by itself," Brown says.

"We couldn't believe it when we first did the mathematics. We found with a short and open outside shield, we could get the same perfect suppression obtained by an infinite shield," he adds. "We had a zero magnetic field everywhere outside, even in those regions where there was no secondary coil."

Trapping magnetic fields in a closed container presents no problem, but to be able to trap them with an open-coil system is what shocked the CWRU research physicists. Shvartsman adds that every time they describe the result to experts, the initial reaction is disbelief.

Upon patent approval, Picker will have rights to the medical diagnostics, while CWRU will have the rights to use the shielding concept in all other applications, such as electronic microscopes or microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

"Everyone is trying to take smaller and smaller computer chips and pack them closer and closer together. The need to shield them from each other becomes more acute," says Brown.

The supershielding concept can also be applied to electric fields. By turning the shielding around, it c

Contact: Susan Griffith
Case Western Reserve University

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