Advances in technology for
medical diagnosis have
created extraordinary new
capabilities for imaging the
human body. Many of
medicine's most powerful
diagnostic tools incorporate
technology that physicists
originally developed to
explore the fundamental
nature of matter.
Magnetic resonance imaging uses technology that began as a tool
for physicists to accelerate protons to the highest energy in the
MRI is a technique used to produce high quality images of the inside
of the human body. MRI is based on the principles of nuclear
magnetic resonance, a technique used by scientists to obtain
microscopic chemical and physical information about molecules.
At the heart of MRI technology are powerful magnets made of
superconducting wire and cable first developed in the 1970s to build
To build the Tevatron, Fermilab brought together experts in
superconductivity, physics, engineering, materials science and
manufacturing. Their collaboration made superconducting magnet
technology ready for a full-grown role in the new diagnostic
capability created by MRI.
A new generation of superconducting magnets will
give physicists more powerful accelerators to unlock
the deepest secrets of the universe. And a new
generation of high-field superconducting MRI magnets
will help unlock the secrets of the human body. MRI
scan of the whole body of a woman in coronal
(frontal) section. The head is seen in side (sagittal)
section. This whole body image is the product of a
number of MRI scans made along the length of the
body and combined.
The ongoing development of high-field
superconducting magnets, an understanding of the properties of
atoms, and advances in high-speed computing combine to make
magnetic resonance imaging an increasingly powerful tool for
medical diagnosis and research.
A large-bore superconducting magnet, built by
Intermagnetics General Corporation, destined for a
magnetic resonance imaging system.
accelerator is a
four-mile circle of 1,020
superconducting magnets, 224
quadrupoles, like this one, and 796
dipoles. Building the Tevatron took
enough superconducting wire to circle
the earth 2.3 timesˇand created a new
industry, ready to supply
superconducting wire and cable for the emerging medical technology
called magnetic resonance imaging.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.