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Magnetic sensors: TDK Reports Preliminary Study Results for real-time monitoring of cardiac activity using prototype MR sensors

  • In a feasibility study, using TDK’s prototype high-sensitivity magnetoresistive (MR) elements, TDK was able to perform the first* real-time measurement of magnetic field distribution of the heart in humans. Monitoring of the real-time cardiac magnetic field distribution of five healthy subjects was demonstrated with a prototype 99-channel sensor array.s.

March 13, 2019

TDK Corporation (President: Shigenao Ishiguro, TSE:6762) collaborated with the Joint Research Department of Advanced Medical Technology (Professor Shigenori Kawabata) and the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine (Specialty of Cardiac Electrophysiology) (Professor Kenzo Hirao) at the Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences of Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) to perform a feasibility study using TDK’s prototype high-sensitivity magnetoresistive (MR) elements. During the study, the prototype magnetic sensors based on high-sensitivity MR elements developed by TDK were used to monitor in real-time the magnetic field distribution in the heart by measuring the magnetic fields generated by the hearts of five healthy subjects using a 99-channel sensor array. This is the first reported achievement of magnetic field distribution measurement of the heart in humans. However, further research and development are required before these prototype sensors may be commercialized for clinical use.

As a result of a prior collaborative research study, TDK and TMDU succeeded in visualizing the magnetic field distribution of a heart, an example of a biomagnetic field, using a prototype MR sensor array at room temperature in 2016. Visualization of the cardiac magnetic field distribution of five healthy subjects was demonstrated with a 30-channel sensor array. TDK and TMDU have been working on the development of more accurate magnetic sensors, as well as a measuring device that may be used to replace the existing superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) sensors.

Through the use of TDK’s advanced magnetic sensor technology, TDK and TMDU have developed prototype magnetic sensors that are designed to have greater sensitivity. In the recent collaborative research study described above, researchers were able to perform the world’s first successful real-time measurement of the cardiac magnetic field distribution in humans, using a TDK prototype MR sensor array at room temperature. Because this technology is also being developed to facilitate measurement through the parallel connection of multiple room-temperature sensors and allow for higher-density measurement, TDK and TMDU have jointly developed a prototype measuring device that designed to measure on two planes, which is optimal for potentially measuring cardiac activity. TDK and TMDU, together with technical support from the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, will conduct verification tests and continue their development efforts to ensure the practical application of the prototype. Further research and development are required before these prototype sensors may be commercialized for clinical use

Making the most of the opportunity for this successful joint research, TDK and TMDU will continue to accelerate research and development in the magnetic sensor field, which will be a central pillar of TDK’s operations in the future.

  • * As of March 2019, according to TDK data


  • Magnetic field distribution: The spatial distribution of the directionality and strength of a magnetic field. Here, it refers to the two-dimensional distribution within the plane of a sensor array.
  • Biomagnetism: Magnetic fields generated by the electrical activity of living biological organisms. It is observed in organs such as the heart, brain, nerves, and muscles.
  • Cardiac activity: Activity of the muscles that makeup the heart (cardiac) organ.

About Tokyo Medical and Dental University

Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) is the only comprehensive medical university in Japan that has both undergraduate and graduate programs in medicine and dentistry. The undergraduate programs are offered through the Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry and prepare students to be medical or dental professionals. Our graduate programs in Medical and Dental Sciences and Health Sciences produce leaders who go into research (basic research and clinical research), education, or a combination of such work. Many professors teach and conduct cutting-edge research in their respective Faculty or at one of our specialized research institutes, such as the Medical Research Institute or the Institute of Biomaterials and Bioengineering.

About TDK Corporation

TDK Corporation is a leading electronics company based in Tokyo, Japan. It was established in 1935 to commercialize ferrite, a key material in electronic and magnetic products. TDK’s comprehensive portfolio features passive components such as ceramic, aluminum electrolytic and film capacitors, as well as magnetics, high-frequency, and piezo and protection devices. The product spectrum also includes sensors and sensor systems such as temperature and pressure, magnetic, and MEMS sensors. In addition, TDK provides power supplies and energy devices, magnetic heads, and more. These products are marketed under the product brands TDK, EPCOS, InvenSense, Micronas, Tronics, and TDK-Lambda. TDK focuses on demanding markets in the areas of information and communication technology and automotive, industrial, and consumer electronics. The company has a network of design and manufacturing locations and sales offices in Asia, Europe, and in North and South America. In fiscal 2018, TDK posted total sales of USD 12 billion and employed about 103,000 people worldwide.

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