News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | February 11, 2022

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

Boston University College of Engineering professor Xin Zhang and her research collaborators have developed a new, 3-D metamaterial that has the potential to improve MRI imaging of the human brain. The spherical structure can be worn like a helmet, and change size to create images more quickly and at a higher quality – ultimately improving MRI functionality while reducing costs. Image courtesy of Boston University’s Photonics Center, Ke Wu, a PhD student in BU’s department of mechanical engineering and Xin Z

Boston University College of Engineering professor Xin Zhang and her research collaborators have developed a new, 3-D metamaterial that has the potential to improve MRI imaging of the human brain. The spherical structure can be worn like a helmet, and change size to create images more quickly and at a higher quality – ultimately improving MRI functionality while reducing costs. Image courtesy of Boston University’s Photonics Center, Ke Wu, a PhD student in BU’s department of mechanical engineering and Xin Zhang, a College of Engineering professor of mechanical engineering


February 11, 2022 — It may look like a bizarre bike helmet, or a piece of equipment found in Doc Brown’s lab in Back to the Future, yet this gadget made of plastic and copper wire is a technological breakthrough with the potential to revolutionize medical imaging. Despite its playful look, the device is actually a metamaterial, packing in a ton of physics, engineering and mathematical know-how. 

It was developed by Xin Zhang, a College of Engineering professor of mechanical engineering, and her team of scientists at BU’s Photonics Center. They’re experts in metamaterials, a type of engineered structure created from small unit cells that might be unspectacular alone, but when grouped together in a precise way, get new superpowers not found in nature. Metamaterials, for instance, can bend, absorb, or manipulate waves—such as electromagnetic waves, sound waves, or radio waves. Each unit cell, also called a resonator, is typically arranged in a repeating pattern in rows and columns; they can be designed in different sizes and shapes, and placed at different orientations, depending on which waves they’re designed to influence. 

Metamaterials can have many novel functions. Zhang, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering, biomedical engineering, and materials science and engineering, has designed an acoustic metamaterial that blocks sound without stopping airflow (imagine quieter jet engines and air conditioners) and a magnetic metamaterial that can improve the quality of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines used for medical diagnosis. 

Now, Zhang and her team have taken their work a step further with the wearable metamaterial. The dome-shaped device, which fits over a person’s head and can be worn during a brain scan, boosts MRI performance, creating crisper images that can be captured at twice the normal speed. 

metamateral brain MRI

The helmet is fashioned from a series of magnetic metamaterial resonators, which are made from 3D-printed plastic tubes wrapped in copper wiring, grouped on an array, and precisely arranged to channel the magnetic field of the MRI machine. Placing the magnetic metamaterial—in helmet form or as the originally designed flat array—near the part of the body to be scanned, says Zhang, could make MRIs less costly and more time efficient for doctors, radiologists, and patients—all while improving image quality.

Eventually, the magnetic metamaterial has the potential to be used in conjunction with cheaper low-field MRI machines to make the technology more widely available, particularly in the developing world. 

For more information: www.bu.edu

Watch the video

Related Content

News | Radiation Therapy

June 24, 2022 — Recently, a collaborated research team led by Prof. LI Hai and WANG Hongzhi from Hefei Institutes of ...

Time June 24, 2022
arrow
News | Digital Radiography (DR)

June 22, 2022 — Canadian manufacturer KA Imaging unveiled a new brand identity for its patented dual-energy technology ...

Time June 22, 2022
arrow
News | MRI Breast

June 22, 2022 — According to ARRS’ American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), contrast-enhanced mammography (CEM) may be a ...

Time June 22, 2022
arrow
News | Artificial Intelligence

June 9, 2022 — Infinitt North America and Brainreader A/S announced today a wide ranging and unique partnership to ...

Time June 09, 2022
arrow
Feature

Imaging Technology News (ITN) maintains more than 40 comparison charts of product specifications from various vendors ...

Time June 09, 2022
arrow
News | Ultrasound Imaging

June 7, 2022 — According to ARRS’ American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), ultrasound-derived fat fraction (UDFF) is ...

Time June 07, 2022
arrow
News | Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

June 7, 2022 — Two-year results from the Dysphagia-Aspiration Related Structures (DARS) trial, which is funded by Cancer ...

Time June 07, 2022
arrow
News | AHRA

June 3, 2022 — The Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) has announced the newest members of the AHRA Board ...

Time June 03, 2022
arrow
News | Radiation Therapy

June 3, 2022 — Henry Ford Health is the first in the world to complete a full course of patient treatments using the ...

Time June 03, 2022
arrow
Feature | Radiology Business | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane

Here is what you and your colleagues found to be most interesting in the field of medical imaging during the month of ...

Time June 01, 2022
arrow
Subscribe Now