Ohio State University physicists have invented a new kind of MRI technique to see inside a magnet that's smaller than the head of a pin. The magnet is a ferromagnet and has too strong of a magnetic field to be studied with typical MRI. The technique may eventually enable the development of extremely small computers, and give doctors a new tool for studying the plaques in blood vessels - which are too small for typical MRI to see - that play a role in diseases such as heart disease.
The scientists dubbed the technique "scanned probe ferromagnetic resonance force microscopy," or scanned probe FMRFM. It involves detecting a magnetic signal using a tiny silicon bar with an even tinier magnetic probe on its tip. Since the new probe system generates a magnetic field that varies naturally, the physicists could sweep the probe over an array of magnets and get a 2D view that's similar to a medical MRI. Experts believe that one day, tiny magnets could be implanted on a computer's central processing unit (CPU) chip.