thumbnail group

Connect With Us:

ME Channels / Micro / Nano

TechFront: Ultra-Strong MRIs Show Promise for Neuroscience, Other Research

New ultra-strong, high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) full-body scanners under development by GE Healthcare (Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, UK) and Tesla Engineering UK (Pulborough, West Sussex, UK) will be used by researchers to speed detection and improve therapies for Parkinson’s disease and a host of other disorders.

GE and Tesla Engineering on May 12 announced its collaboration at the joint meeting in Milan, Italy, of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) and the European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology (ESMRMB) under which the companies will build 7.0-tesla (7.0T) full-body MRI scanners.

Tesla Engineering is currently building a new plant in Storrington, UK, that will manufacture 7.0T magnets, which are much more powerful that the 1.5 or 3.0T magnets currently used in standard MRI machines. These ultra-high-field MRI systems are used in scientific and medical research mostly for morphological and functional imaging of the brain, although their use is expanding to other areas. Tesla’s first production unit from the new factory will go to GE and is scheduled to be shipped in late 2015.

3T vs 7T TechFront A 7T magnet uses similar technology to standard clinical magnets, noted Tesla Engineering’s Simon Pittard in GE Reports, and the 7T magnet is about 11' (3.4-m) long and weighs about 40 tons (362.9t). The 7T magnets uses 10 times more wire and stores approximately five times more energy than a 3T magnet, Pittard said, and engineers cool the 7T magnet’s wiring to 4º above zero to achieve superconductivity and generate its powerful magnetic field. “This agreement will enable GE to deepen and broaden our collaborations with leading MRI academics and visionaries, sharing our collective expertise and missions in technology, science and medicine,” said Richard Hausmann, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, MR.

Teams of researchers using 7.0T MRI technology already are making breakthrough observations and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury and cognitive physiology, Hausmann said. Researchers have shown promising results using the GE 7.0T MRI technology with its GE Discovery MR 950 7T, an investigational medical device under the US Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

A research team headed by Dr. Michela Tosetti at the IMAGO7 Research Foundation in Pisa, Italy, the home of the first European GE 7T machine at the University of Pisa, has published its findings online in the June 2014 issue of the publication Radiology in a paper entitled “MR Imaging of the Substantia Nigra at 7 T Enables Diagnosis of Parkinson Disease.” To downloadthe research page, visit ME

Engineers Develop New Ceramic Materials for Hydrogen Storage

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have created new ceramic materials that hold potential for safer, more efficient storage of hydrogen. The research team engineered new compounds made from mixtures of calcium hexaboride, strontium and barium hexaboride, and were able to demonstrate that the compounds could be manufactured using a simple, low-cost manufacturing method known as combustion synthesis.

The research is at the proof-of-concept stage, but it shows promise for potential hydrogen fuel cells in the future. The work is part of a $1.2-million project funded by the National Science
Foundation, a collaboration between UC San Diego, Alfred University in upstate New York and the University of Nevada, Reno. The manufacturing process for the ceramics is faster and
simpler than traditional methods used to manufacture these types of materials. The researchers presented their work in March 2014 at the third International Symposium on Nanoscience and Nanomaterials in Mexico. “We are looking for solid materials that can store and release hydrogen easily,” said Olivia Graeve, a professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.SEM Hexaborides Blue TechFront

Storage of hydrogen has become increasingly important as hydrogen fuel cells become more popular power sources. But hydrogen, the lightest element on the periodic table, is difficult to store as it tends to diffuse through the walls of pressurized tanks, and it also needs to be compressed in order to occupy manageable amounts of space when stored. The resulting ceramics are crystalline structures in a cage of boron. To store hydrogen, the researchers would swap the calcium, strontium and boron with hydrogen atoms within the cage. The researchers mixed boron with metal nitrates and organic fuels, such as urea, in a box furnace at temperatures below 400º C (752º F). The nitrates and organic fuels ignite, generating heat that then drives the reaction without the need for an external source of power, a method known as combustion synthesis. ME

Top-Flight Research Papers

The recent International Manufacturing Research Conference 2014, held June 9–13 in Detroit, brought together research innovators who presented more than 350 papers at the co-located

Next month’s Tech Front will include full coverage of research presentations from NAMRC (sponsored by the North American Manufacturing Research Institution of SME), MSEC (Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference), sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Manufacturing Engineering Div., and ICM&P (International Conference on Materials and Processes), which is cosponsored by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers and ASME.

Advance conference highlights include several papers from the 42nd NAMRC that earned high rankings in the peer-review process. The best paper distinction was awarded to “Fiber Orientation Angle Effects in Machining of Unidirectional CFRP Laminated Composites,” by NIST Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Div. (Gaithersburg, MD) researchers V. Madhavan (also of Wichita State University; Wichita, KS), B. Lane and E. Whitenton, and G. Lipczynski of Boeing Research & Technology (Huntington Beach, CA). 

Madhavan-1 TechFront

The paper addresses operations of high interest to the aviation industry—machining of composites, for example, drilling of holes and routing of edges. Unidirectional CFRP laminate disks are cut orthogonally to study the influence of fiber orientation angle (FOA) between 0° and 90° and cutting condition on forces and chip formation. For high feed, cutting force increases with FOA up to 90°; for low feed, cutting force decreases beyond 65°. Significant tool flank wear even in these short-duration experiments causes thrust and cutting forces to increase significantly for FOA from 0 to 60°. For 65° to 80° FOA, force signals change cyclically. A small spike (“chirp”) in cutting force seems to correlate to fibers being pulled out in clumps and is followed by lower forces in subsequent machining revolutions.

A novel electrohydrodynamic (EHD) jet printing technology using silver nanoink is introduced in “Drop-on-Demand E-Jet Printing of Continuous Features with AC-Pulse Modulation on
Highly Insulating Substrates,” by Chuang Wei, Hantang Qin, Yuan-shin Lee and Jingyan Dong of North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC) and Chia-Pin Chiu of Intel Corp. (Phoenix). 

By modulating pulse frequency, pulse voltage amplitude and pulse duration, EHD jet printing behavior can be controlled for printing speed and droplet size. Printing speed can be controlled by pulse frequency, and droplet dimension is controlled by the voltage or the pulse duration. Moreover, the process alternates the charge polarity of the consequent droplets by using the AC-pulse voltage to neutralize the charge on the printed droplets. By minimizing the effect of the residue charge, high-resolution printing of continuous patterns is possible for application to many flexible electronics and high-density packaging applications.  

Madhavan-2 TechFront

Another notable NAMRC paper covers the laser-driven, noncontact variant of micro-transfer printing, which is rapidly emerging as an effective pathway for large-scale heterogeneous materials integration. In “Multi-Physics Modeling for Laser Micro Transfer Printing Delamination,” by Ala’a M. Al-okaily and Placid M. Ferreira of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, IL), an opto-thermo-mechanical model is developed to understand the laser optical absorption and thermally-induced strains around the ink-stamp interface during the LMTP process. The model will be used in planning the process parameters (laser pulse duration, stand-off distance), estimating the ink-stamp temperature rise during the LMTP process and understanding the LMTP process capabilities and delamination mechanism. Further, experimental observations are used to calibrate the model and verifyits predictions.

For more information on these or other research papers from NAMRC, MSEC and ICM&P, contact ME

TechFront is edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak,, and Ellen Kehoe,

This article was first published in the July 2014 issue of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.

Published Date : 7/1/2014

Editor's Picks

Advanced Manufacturing Media - SME
U.S. Office  |  One SME Drive, Dearborn, MI 48128  |  Customer Care: 800.733.4763  |  313.425.3000
Canadian Office  |  7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 312, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2  888.322.7333
Tooling U  |   3615 Superior Avenue East, Building 44, 6th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114  |  866.706.8665