(Written by Jeremiah O’Mahony)
This summer, Ken Zhu and Nick Torres joined Jerry O’Mahony to help improve Merideth Frey’s lab at the Sarah Lawrence Summer Science Physics Internship. The bulk of our focus over the summer was split between improving the Halbach Mandhala design from last summer and getting the TeachSpin system up and running. We succeeded in both–the current Mandhala is more powerful and versatile than the last, and as of the last week of the internship, the TeachSpin system is reliably detecting 1-D images of samples.
The Halbach Mandhala project stems out of Merideth’s interest in making MRI technology more affordable and adaptable. What we’ve done this summer takes strides towards that goal. The Tall Mandhala improves the length and homogeneity of the magnetic field from the old Mandhala. In truth it’s two Mandhalas, one inside the other, each enhancing the field.
We also designed a gradient with permanent magnets to alter the strength of the field and improve imaging. It works with the Tall Mandhala and acts as a multi-purpose fashion accessory.
Merideth got the TeachSpin system with an eye to teaching a class on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and to take valuable MR measurements for designing our own MRI device. We set our sights for potential samples to target with our low-cost MRI system and partnered with Dr. Sally Marik from Pace University to improve our imaging technology with the goal of imaging zebrafish. Zebrafish are transparent until their adolescence, making optical fluorescence micrscopy possible, but MRI can provide in vivo imaging even after adolescence. We’ve been using zebrafish gifted from Dr. Marik’s lab as samples to measure the basic magnetic resonance properties (T1 and T2) to help design our imaging system.
3D printing has also been a major focus this summer. We printed all of the Mandhala and most of the gradient models on our Cube 3 printer, Goeppert. Late in the summer we introduced a da Vinci Jr. Printer, Hedy, on which we reprinted some of the gradients and another Tall Mandhala. The transition from Goeppert to Hedy was mostly painless.
We also 3D printed a linear actuator, a device designed for us by Arav Misra. The actuator can precisely adjust the placement of a sample in a 5mm-wide tube, perfect for our TeachSpin system and Mandhalas.
We’re looking forward to making even more progress next summer with more interested students.