MRI of Materials: A New Way of Seeing
For the first thirty years after the discovery of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), it was generally believed that most solids and many gases could not be imaged using this method, and many standard texts still assert that this is true. Dr. Bruce J. Balcom has proved this assertion wrong, having invented a series of MRI techniques that permit unrivalled and unprecedented visualization of a very large range of materials systems. MRI is probably the most flexible and powerful diagnostic imaging technique available to clinical medicine. However, traditional MRI is unable to image the large population of relatively immobile 1H containing tissues and structures - it only indirectly tells us about tissue. The family of new MRI methods (generically termed SPRITE) invented by the UNB MRI Centre permit the ready visualization of both mobile and immobile 1H in a large range of materials including concrete, polymers, composites, food materials and microporous solids. The successful application of these techniques, with allied hardware and software innovations, has opened entirely new vistas in materials science research. Dr. Balcom's Canada Research Chair in Materials Science MRI aims to accomplish three principal goals: to permit rapid and continued development of the material science imaging techniques pioneered at UNB; to permit the earliest and most advantageous application of these techniques by their collaborators, and to provide national leadership in the technology and applications of materials science MRI. His fundamental goal in technique and instrumentation development is to improve the sensitivity and generality of the techniques. Dr. Balcom's work has been recognized through extensive grant and contract support by a wide variety of international companies and research organizations.