Lightweight and compact, high performance magnetically shielded rooms for biomagnetic measurements - LightMuRoom

Lead Participant: Magnetic Shields Limited

Abstract

"Optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs) are emerging quantum sensors with the potential to revolutionise biomagnetic measurements of the brain (magnetoencephalography-MEG) and heart (magnetocardiography-MCG). These are important tools used to improve understanding, diagnosis and treatment of neurological, psychiatric and cardiological (including foetal cardiography) conditions (impacting \>23million people within the UK). OPM-sensors will enable low cost (\>10x cheaper), lightweight, portable and reconfigurable devices with direct patient contact; leading to enhanced sensitivity, new patient groups (e.g. children), and new types of experiment involving free movement.

Despite their potential, hospitals have been slow to adopt MEG/MCG due to key barriers, the most significant relating to the magnetic shielded rooms (MSRs) required to shield the sensitive measurements.

Existing high performance MSRs typically incorporate multiple layers of ferromagnetic shielding material, making them expensive, heavy and large/tall, and thus unsuitable for standard hospital spaces. Furthermore, their limited attenuation of the Earth's magnetic fields leaves residual fields which severely constrain OPM operation.

Whilst active shielding (electrically generated cancellation fields) has been applied to improve performance, existing systems have simple designs (tri-axial Helmholtz coil systems) and therefore only offer limited shielding performance; are unable to cancel spatially varying fields; and require a 3D geometry that encloses the patient (patient claustrophobia).

LightMuRoom overcomes these challenges by combining:

* a market leading MSR design incorporating novel degaussing functionality for optimum passive shielding performance
* an innovative active shielding coil design methodology enabling the creation of complex spatially varying field patterns
* an advanced sensor array and control system for the detection and cancellation of static, dynamic and spatially varying magnetic interference to a very low level

The novel active shielding will enable:

* use of a single Mumetal shielding layer leading to a significant reduction in MSR weight, height and cost
* improved cancellation of the Earth's magnetic field, in conjunction with attenuation of temporally and spatially varying magnetic fields.

The MSR will adopt a modular design enabling customisation to end-user requirements and cost-effective integration within standard hospital spaces. These advancements will facilitate mainstream use of OPM-MEG/MCG enabling essential breakthroughs in healthcare provision. The project will result in a prototype LightMuRoom that will be installed at end-user 'Young Epilepsy' and demonstrated for OPM-MEG.

The addressable global market for MEG/MCG MSRs is estimated at ~£585m with the potential to more than double with mainstream use. LightMuRoom targets ~£18.6 million cumulative sales over a 5-year period generating a \>30-fold ROI and creating 48 new jobs."

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Magnetic Shields Limited £666,693 £ 400,016
 

Participant

University of Nottingham, United Kingdom £249,067 £ 249,067
The National Centre for Young People With Epilepsy, Lingfield £40,002 £ 40,002

Publications

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