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IBM builds nanoscale MRI

Extremely fine resolution
Tue Jan 13 2009, 15:57

BIG BLUE researchers have constructed a nanoscale magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device in collaboration with Stanford University.

The instrument has a resolution 100 million times finer than the conventional MRI machines routinely used for medical imaging. The advance, published today by the National Academy of Sciences, marks a milestone for molecular biology and nanotechnology as a potential tool for studying complex 3D structures at nanometre scale.

Such a sensitive microscope - or nanoscope, really - shows promise for the detailed study of many diverse materials, from proteins to integrated circuits, at the level of atomic structure.

The nanoscale MRI device uses a technique called magnetic resonance force microscopy that detects ultrasmall magnetic forces. In addition to providing very high resolution, the technique has desirable advantages in that it can 'see' below surfaces and - unlike electron microscopy - is non-destructive to relatively sensitive chemical and biological materials. µ



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