News | October 09, 2006

Electrons May Put New Spin on Imaging

A new study on electron spin resonance imaging at the University of Bath in the U.K. may lead to a new imaging technique for detecting serious disorders such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and septic shock.
Electron spin resonance imaging works similarly to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), however, while MRI scanners utilize the magnetic properties of the protons in water to generate an image, electron spin resonance uses the magnetic properties of electrons. Researchers suspect that this may make electron spin resonance more effective in imaging chemical processes than MRI.
Researchers anticipate that electron spin resonance technology will eventually be capable of capturing a 3-D image of the chemical condition of organs such as the heart, however, the imaging technique does not currently have the sensitivity or speed to do this. Should measurement methods and data analysis improve sensitivity by at least100 times, images could be captured 10,000 times faster or with 10,000 times more spatial information.
“The enormous potential of electron spin resonance imaging has been recognized in the scientific community for some time; however, this promise remains largely unrealized,” said Stephen Bingham, PhD, University of Bath, Department of Physics. “The substantial improvement in performance that is necessary will not come from tinkering with current technology, so our task is to bring fresh thinking to this problem. We will be adapting several technologies that have been developed in other fields of science and engineering and applying them to electron spin resonance imaging for the first time.”

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