U of M lands world's largest imaging magnet


The world's largest imaging magnet has attached itself to the University of Minnesota, KSTP reported.

Dr. Kamil Ugurbil told KSTP that he and his colleagues plan on using the device to look at the human brain structure, its anatomy and activity.

The Star Tribune said the device was manufactured in England and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and through the Great Lakes to Duluth. It was transported to the U of M on a 150-foot trailer.

The magnet, which weighs 110 tons, has 720 miles of wire and other electrical components, and is encased in an iron shield. It is valued between $10 million and $20 million.

According to the Star Tribune, the device is a major component of the NIH BRAIN Initiative, a 10-year project that aims to do for brain research what the Human Genome Project did for genetics.

According to university officials, the device is the first Tesla magnet with a rating of 10.5. Most Tesla magnets, which are used for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) purposes, are rated 1.5 to 3 or lower.

U of M doctors said a patient and table will be able to fit into the device, which has a giant hole in the center of it.

Getting the device ready will take some time, however. According to the U of M, 40,000 liters of helium will be needed to ramp up the magnet, a process that takes over three months.

Ugurbil hopes to begin testing in July 2014.

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