Nanoscale MRI lets doctors see patients' individual molecules

April 22, 2013

Thanks to medical advances, the technology has greatly improved. Now, a new type of MRI could be medicine's next big thing.

From the brain, to the heart, to the liver, MRIs can scan virtually every organ in your body. But this is an MRI like no other. It lets doctors see images on a nanoscale.

"Imagine that you want to see, for example, the workings of a cell," said Carlos Meriles, PhD, Professor of Physics, The City College of New York.

The machine could allow doctors to see a person's individual molecules or examine a strand of DNA.

"That kind of limit, you can't reach, you can't even think of reaching with standard technology, standard MRI technology," said Meriles.

The nanoscale MRI has a resolution up to 10,000 times better than a standard MRI.

To create the new MRI, scientists used defects in diamonds. When light is directed at them, they pick up the magnetic properties of nearby atoms in a cell.

"We have to think of atoms as little magnets," said Meriles.

But because the system uses light, a large, a strong magnet isn't necessary. That could mean a safer scan for patients down the road.

Researchers say the nanoscale MRI probably wouldn't replace current MRIs, but would be used to collect different kinds of data.

The nanoscale MRI will likely be available in about 10 years.

Professor of Physics
The City College of New York - CUNY
(212) 650-5625

(Copyright Ivanhoe Broadcast News 2013)

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