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Magnetic Detection

Magnetic detection has become a common technology in our daily life. For reliable sensing the magnetic route proves to be superior to the electrical alternative in many applications. In cars magnetic sensors are used to sense motor functions and to the check status of the driver and the passengers. Also all mobile communication in our daily life (GSM, RFID, NFC and WLAN) detects subtitle variations in the magnetic field. As a result a huge number of magnetic sensors is produced and applied worldwide (>109 per year).

Magnetic techniques such as MEG and MCG have been developed for measurements on the electrophysiology, but these are still mainly used in research and only a limited number of pre-clinical applications. In clinical practice the electrical route (EEG/ECG) is still the preferred route, despite the complex hassle with the electrical contacts. This is because the requirement of a cost-intensive and patient unfriendly Magnetically Shielded Room for an MEG or an MCG exam is a formidable hurdle.

The magnetic detection group tries to overcome this hurdle by implementing a handheld magnetic sensor that can work outside such a shielded room. The Diffmag sensor is the first attempt at such a sensor which proved to be clinically useful for detecting iron oxide particles in sentinel lymph nodes.

For the technology development the MD&I group collaborates with its low temperature colleagues in the recently founded EMS and ICE groups.

Principal Investigator

Dr. ir. Bennie ten Haken


Research Projects:

IronNanoLoc IronNoanoLoc
The project IronNanoLoc explores the feasibility/ opportunity of a magnetic route to detect/ localize the sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) in the head and neck area. The project received a STW-KWF grant.
SLN biopsies are performed more frequently in clinical practice, besides breast cancer and melanoma it is now also used in oral cancer. With the use of a SLN biopsy, lymph nodes can be staged without resection of all regional lymph nodes and thereby decreasing morbidity. The use of magnetic nanoparticles has many advantages over nuclear tracers, which are the current standard to detect SLNs. Especially in the head and neck area, where the anatomy is complex and a close spatial relation is seen between the site of injection and the primary tumor in e.g. the floor of mouth. For this reason we will study the feasibility of the magnetic approach in oral cancer patients. To detect small quantities of the magnetic tracer an existing magnetometer and a novel magnetometer will be evaluated.
The novel magnetometer is based on differential magnetometry (DiffMag) and is developed within our group. In DiffMag the nonlinear magnetization characteristics of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles are exploited. Using these characteristics the detector won’t be influenced by operation room instruments and the diamagnetism of the human body. Our goal is to enable a more reliable staging, patient friendly and highly personalized treatment by implementing the magnetic route in performing a SLN biopsy.
For more information on this project you can contact Eliane Nieuwenhuis. Collaborating partners in this KWF-STW project are: UMC Utrecht, Radboud UMC, Medisch Spectrum Twente, AIM, Holland Innovative and Topic.