Scientists from Leiden University in The Netherlands and ITMO University in Moscow, Russia have developed a new material that improves the image quality of high-field MRI scanners. The material can be used along with existing MRI coil arrays, as it’s flexible and is not very thick, and so can be integrated near the coils. The material consists of a two-dimensional “metamaterial” of resonant copper strips, and a dielectric substrate stuck to the strip array.
Using a 7 Tesla scanner, which is considerably more powerful than what is widely used in clinical practice today (3T max), they were able to obtain neurological images of higher quality than when not using the new material. Moreover, in addition to being able to acquire better scans, the material may help speed up scans, a major bottleneck in a lot of countries.
“We placed such a metasurface under the patient’s head, which increased local sensitivity by 50%. This allowed us to obtain detailed scans of the occipital cortex in half the usual time. Such devices could potentially reduce the duration of MRI studies and improve its comfort for subjects”, in a published statement said Rita Schmidt, the leading author of the paper and researcher at the Department of Radiology of Leiden University Medical Center.