Navigation Links
NIST mini-sensor traces faint magnetic signature of human heartbeat

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the German national metrology institute have used NIST's miniature atom-based magnetic sensor to successfully track a human heartbeat, confirming the device's potential for biomedical applications.

Described in Applied Physics Letters,* the study is the first to be performed under conditions resembling a clinical setting with the NIST mini-sensors, which until now have been operated mostly in physics laboratories. The new experiments were carried out at the Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Berlin, Germany, in a building described as having the world's best magnetic shieldingnecessary to block the Earth's magnetic field and other external sources from interfering with the high-precision measurements. PTB has an ongoing program in biomagnetic imaging using human subjects.

The NIST sensora tiny container of about 100 billion rubidium atoms in gas form, a low-power infrared laser, and opticsmeasured the heart's magnetic signature in picoteslas (trillionths of a tesla). The tesla is the unit that defines magnetic field strength. For comparison, the Earth's magnetic field is a million times stronger (measured in millionths of a tesla) than a heartbeat, and an MRI machine uses fields several million times stronger still (operating at several tesla).

In the experiments at PTB, the NIST sensor was placed 5 millimeters above the left chest of a person lying face up on a bed. The sensor successfully detected the weak but regular magnetic pattern of the heartbeat. The same signals were recorded using the "gold standard" for magnetic measurements, a SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device). A comparison of the signals confirmed that the NIST mini-sensor correctly measured the heartbeat and identified many typical signal features. The NIST mini-sensor generates more "noise" (interference) in the signal but has the advantage of operating at room temperature, whereas SQUIDs work best at minus 269 degrees Celsius and require more complicated and expensive supporting apparatus.

A spin-off of NIST's miniature atomic clocks, NIST's magnetic mini-sensors were first developed in 2004. Recently, they were packaged with fiber optics for detecting the light signals that register magnetic field strength. (See the 2007 NIST news release "New NIST Mini-Sensor May Have Biomedical and Security Applications" at In addition, the control system has been reduced in size, so the entire apparatus can be transported easily to other laboratories.

The new results suggest that NIST mini-sensors could be used to make magnetocardiograms, a supplement or alternative to electrocardiograms. The study also demonstrated for the first time that atomic magnetometers can offer sensing stability lasting tens of seconds, as needed for an emerging technique called magnetorelaxometry (MRX), which measures the magnetization decay of magnetic nanoparticles. MRX is used to localize, quantify and image magnetic nanoparticles inserted into biological tissue for medical applications such as targeted drug treatments. Further tests of the NIST sensors at PTB are planned.


Contact: Laura Ost
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Related biology news :

1. Traces of early Native Americans -- in sunflower genes
2. Natural-born divers and the molecular traces of evolution
3. Magnetic attraction for fish, crabs?
4. Half-a-loaf method can improve magnetic memories
5. Rutgers researchers assess severity of prostate cancers using magnetic resonance imaging
6. A magnetic solution to identify and kill tumors
7. Louisiana Tech professor, researcher receives patent for electromagnetic technology
8. Researchers develop drug delivery system using nanoparticles triggered by electromagnetic field
9. Nuclear magnetic resonance aids in drug design
10. Texas Childrens Cancer Center first in Texas to magnetically lengthen nine-year-olds leg as she grows
11. Magnetic nanoparticles show promise for combating human cancer
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
NIST mini-sensor traces faint magnetic signature of human heartbeat
(Date:6/1/2016)... June 1, 2016 Favorable Government ... Administration and Criminal Identification to Boost Global Biometrics System ... released TechSci Research report, " Global Biometrics Market ... Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", the global biometrics ... 2021, on account of growing security concerns across various ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... , May 12, 2016 ... just published the overview results from the Q1 wave ... the recent wave was consumers, receptivity to a program ... data with a health insurance company. "We ... to share," says Michael LaColla , CEO of ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... 28, 2016 First quarter 2016:   ... compared with the first quarter of 2015 The gross ... M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) ... Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... PHILADELPHIA , June 27, 2016  Liquid ... today announced the funding of a Sponsored Research ... study circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from cancer patients.  ... changes in CTC levels correlate with clinical outcomes ... therapies. These data will then be employed to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle ... people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a new ... , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 A person commits a ... crime scene to track the criminal down. An ... Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly ... support investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... --  EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering company, today ... from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing will allow ... drug development efforts, as well as purchase additional lab ... been an incredible strategic partner to us – one ... provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack , EpiBiome,s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: