The Nanoscale MRI

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The first MRI body scan was performed on a human in 1977, and it took almost five hours to produce one image.

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, MRI's 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," says Carlos Meriles, PhD Professor of Physics, 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."

The Nanoscale MRI has a resolution up to ten-thousand 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…"

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

With an up-close look at the future of MRI's researchers tell us the Nanoscale MRI probably wouldn't replace current MRI's, but would be used to collect different kinds of data.

The Nanoscale MRI will likely be available in about ten years.