Magneto-Caloric Materials for Something Other than Refrigeration: Super-Resolution MRI and Neuro-Stimulation

Mladen Barbic
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Research Campus
Wednesday, January 17
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
SEH, B1270


Non-invasive structural and functional 3D neural imaging and stimulation leading ultimately to the single cell spatial and real-time temporal activity resolution are of tremendous interest to the neuroscience community. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and functional-MRI (fMRI) would benefit significantly from tunable and switchable labels and actuators that operate simultaneously at: (a) such spatio-temporal scales, (b) physiologically relevant temperatures, and (c) typical magnetic fields used in MRI. I will argue that the advances in magneto-caloric materials (developed for the entirely different and unrelated applications in the fields of magnetic refrigeration, spintronics, and data storage) provide a great opportunity to apply these materials towards non-invasive cellular 3D super-resolution imaging and stimulation in the MRI settings. More specifically, the extremely sharp magnetic transitions these materials have at both the physiological temperatures (T~37°C) and at the large DC magnetic field values (several Tesla) match almost serendipitously the stated requirements for tunable/switchable MRI labels and actuators. I will state the remaining challenges and opportunities in this field and present the research path we are pursuing towards preparing, functionalizing, and implementing magneto-caloric materials towards functional MRI imaging and stimulation.

Dr. Elisa KonofagouMladen Barbic received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics at the University of California, San Diego, in 1995 and 2000, respectively, with Professor Shelly Schultz. He was then a Post-Doctoral Scholar in Applied Physics at the California Institute of Technology with the nanofabrication group of Professor Axel Scherer. From 2003-2008, he was an Assistant Professor of Physics at the California State University, Long Beach, as well as a Visiting Associate Faculty at the California Institute of Technology. During that time, he was awarded and supported by the National Science Foundation CAREER Award. In 2008 he was invited to join and help establish the Applied Physics and Instrumentation Group at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute - Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, VA where he works on the development of novel micro-devices for in-vivo electrophysiology. He maintains an active research interest in new optical, electrical, and magnetic resonance imaging technologies.