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Scale model of a MRI magnet, Oxfordshire, England, 1991-2000

Scale model of a MRI magnet, Oxfordshire, England, 1991-2000

Credits: Science Museum

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MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a technique of medical imaging derived from the chemical analytical tool of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). MRI uses NMR signals - magnetic fields to line up the nuclei at the heart of atoms. When a second field is turned on and then off, atoms bounce back in ways characteristic of their environment. Scaled down to a fifth of its actual size, this model represents a magnet used for MRI scanning. Oxford University was a centre for the development of NMR and of the magnets needed to make it work. The model was made by Oxford Magnet Technology Ltd, which was a collaborative enterprise of Oxford Instruments, an important academic spin-off company, and the German electronics company, Siemens.

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    Glossary: model - representation

    Use for a scaled representation of an object or structure, usually three-dimensional. The item is often idealised or modified to make it conceptually easier to understand.

    Glossary: MRI

    Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). A technique for producing high quality images of internal organs and tissues. MRI uses radio waves to achieve its results. It is particularly effective in detecting cancers.

    Glossary: NMR

    Nuclear magnetic resonance is a technique used to detect what chemicals make up a sample containing unknown materials, or proportions of material. The sample is exposed to radio waves, and the frequency of electromagnetic energy that the sample absorbs is recorded. Because different atoms absorb unique frequencies of radiation, it is possible to determine what sort of atoms are present in the sample. NMR is now known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).