Inside Quantum Technology

New Spin-Out Company Cerca Signals Quantum Leap for Brain Imaging

(EurekaAlert) The University of Nottingham has partnered with Kent based company Magnetic Shields Limited (MSL) to launch a new spin-out company, Cerca Magnetics Limited (Cerca) to bring the world’s most advanced functional brain scanner to market. The Cerca Scanner will offer an unprecedented window on brain function and give new hope to people suffering with severe neurological illnesses, like epilepsy.
Researchers in the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre and School of Physics and Astronomy, have been developing the technology for the wearable brain scanner for the past 5 years, in collaboration with neuroscientists at University College London. Their research, funded by the UK Quantum Technologies Programme, Innovate UK, and Wellcome, has demonstrated the ability to create images of the brain with millimetre accuracy, even when the person being scanned is moving. This opens up new possibilities for imaging babies and children.
The three components of the brain imaging technology are:
1 . Optically-pumped magnetometers (OPMs) that exploit the quantum properties of alkali atoms to detect magnetic fields;
2 . Background magnetic field control
3 . System integration
This new wearable scanner is based on a technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG), in which the tiny magnetic fields generated by electrical current flow in brain cells are measured. Whilst other MEG scanners exist, the Cerca System is unique since it is the only “wearable” MEG system allowing patients to move freely during the scan. It also uniquely adapts to different head sizes, making it possible to scan adults, or babies, using the same system. It offers considerably higher sensitivity and spatial specificity compared to the best existing systems and all of this can be achieved at lower cost.

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