Daniel Porter
May 29, 2012

Miniature magnetic sensor for better brain imaging

Imaging brain activity by detecting very weak magnetic fields within the brain is a technology we've been using for years. Recently German scientists have recently demonstrated a device that offers significant improvement. The main problem with our current technologies, however, is that the magnetic field detection equipment need to be continuously cooled to very low temperatures during operation. The device, created by a group at Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt and funded by NIST, is known as a Chip-scale Atomic Magnetometer (CSAM). Though it does not yet achieve the same level of sensitivity as large-scale cryogenically cooled magnetic measurement technologies, the device is much smaller. On the other hand, the CSAM device can be placed on or close to the skin, taking advantage of stronger magnetic fields at the body's surface.