Simpler MRIs

Paihau—Robinson Research Institute is working with universities in the United States and Brazil to make MRI more portable and accessible.

The Institute is using their renowned high temperature superconductor (HTS) technology to design a new-generation MRI magnet for brain imaging.

The Robinson Research Institute is recognised worldwide as a pioneer and a leader in high temperature superconductivity research.

Collaborating to succeed

The project has received significant funding from the United States government’s National Institutes of Health. The Robinson Research Institute is working as part of a consortium headed by the University of Minnesota and including Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Yale University, and Universidade de Sao Paulo.

“The collaboration is testing one of the main assumptions of MRI, namely the requirement for an extremely uniform magnetic field. Using HTS and new MRI techniques developed by our collaborators at the University of Minnesota, we have been able to design a reduced uniformity MRI magnet that is radically smaller and less energy intensive.”
Ben Parkinson, senior engineer, Robinson Research Institute.

A portable MRI

The game-changing magnet is smaller, lighter, and uses less energy than a traditional MRI. It’s a technological advance that allows the development of a portable helmet-like scanning device—which could mean much faster diagnoses in emergency departments.

The device includes a window that helps create a less claustrophobic experience for patients, while the head-only design makes MRIs available to patients who can’t be scanned in the traditional machine—such as those with medical or electronic devices embedded in their bodies.

Designing for users

The University’s School of Design Innovation has worked with Robinson to create a design for the device that will meet the needs of both patients and the MRI technicians who will be using it.

“Having an MRI can be an uncomfortable and claustrophobic experience, so we are working on a new design that can make MRIs less stressful. This new approach to MRIs could be a real game-changer for clinicians and patients alike.”
Dr Edgar Rodriguez, programme director, Interaction Design Programme, School of Design Innovation.