An essential schematics of the NIST device. The light from a low-power infrared laser interacts with the atoms and is transmitted through the fiber-optic cable to register the magnetic field strength (Image: NIST)
The pictured NIST device would be just one in an array of the 32 required to perform an MEG. The devices are kept in place by a helmet (Image: NIST)
A sugar cube-sized device developed at NIST could bring about a cheaper way to analyze brain waves in humans (Image: NIST)
While the sensitivity of the NIST device (left) is still behind the top-of-the-line SQUID technology (right), researchers are quickly closing the gap (Image: NIST)
A sugar cube-sized device developed at NIST could bring about a cheaper way to analyze brain waves in humans (Photo: Knappe/NIST)
Two years ago, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. developed a tiny magnetic sensor that could detect the human heartbeat without touching the subject's skin. Now, the same team has improved the sensitivity of the device tenfold, making it capable of measuring human brain activity and becoming almost as sensitive - but much cheaper and easier to operate - than the best magnetometers available today.
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