A side view of an experimental nuclear magnetic resonance machine.

Nuclear magnetic resonance

We’re developing portable nuclear magnetic resonance and magnetic resonance imaging technology for use in new and emerging industrial and medical applications.

The science

Nuclear magnetic resonance and MRI make use of high-field, large imaging volume magnets. The most efficient way to produce these fields is through using superconductivity.

Commercial MRI systems are focused on medical and pre-clinical applications, and high-field NMR spectroscopy is used for specialised chemical characterisation. There are many potential applications to determine chemical structures accurately, or image biological systems using NMR and MRI, that are not currently serviced.

If NMR is to become more accessible, it needs to be packaged very differently. To be portable and used more widely—potentially in remote locations—it needs to be smaller and lighter, and have moderate power needs.

Impact and potential

Portable versions of NMR could be used to optimise and monitor quality of production across agricultural, pharmaceutical, food, and chemical industries. For example, an in-line system can provide real-time feedback on concentrations of reactants or products in a chemical production line. This would bring significant benefits and cost savings.

In the clinical world, an NMR weighing no more than 30 kg has the potential to be placed in an ambulance and used as a first go-to system for stroke diagnosis during emergencies, where speed is vital. There are also potential uses to continually monitor the condition of skin and organs for transplantation. Making NMR more accessible in this way will save lives and improve the quality of life for many.

Our capabilities

  • Design of permanent magnets for magnetic resonance
  • Design and manufacture of cryogen-free superconducting magnets (LTS or HTS) for magnetic resonance and beyond
  • Design and manufacture of gradient coils for MRI
  • Design of transmit and receive radio frequency (RF) coils for magnetic resonance
  • Specification and integration of magnetic resonance system hardware
  • Development of applications for magnetic resonance systems

The people

Even as an undergraduate, Dr Sergei Obruchkov was inspired by the possibilities of using physics to improve human health. Now, as a senior magnet systems engineer at Paihau—Robinson Research Institute, he is working with clinicians, medical scientists, experts in signal processing, material science, MR physics, and electronics to really unlock the wider benefits of NMR.

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Sergei Obruchkov