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World's First Measurement and Visualization of Cardiac Activity Using MR Sensors

  • TDK has succeeded in the world’s first* magnetic field distribution measurement of a heart using high-sensitivity magnetoresistive (MR) elements. This success represents one aspect of TDK’s advanced research into magnetic sensors, a growth area in which TDK is currently bolstering its efforts.

Jun. 7, 2016

TDK Corporation and the Joint Research Department of Advanced Medical Technology and Department of Cardiovascular Medicine (Specialty of Cardiac Electrophysiology) at the Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences of Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU), have succeeded in a collaborative effort to achieve the world’s first successful magnetic field distribution measurement of a heart by high-sensitivity magnetoresistive (MR) elements.

TDK is currently accelerating the expansion of a range of strategic growth products as part of its growth strategy geared towards the IoT market. TDK considers sensors, in particular, to be a growth product area that will see expansion in all of TDK’s key market areas: Automotive, ICT, industrial and energy markets. Magnetic sensors, which make use of the magnetic materials technologies that TDK specializes in, constitute the central focus of this strategic initiative, and TDK is proactively engaged in the leading-edge development of such sensors. On this occasion, TDK was able to achieve a world first in measurement results obtained using MR elements. MR elements are widely used in the magnetic heads of HDD, an area of expertise in which TDK has been a world-leading pioneer in achieving higher density in such devices.
Measuring extremely weak and subtle magnetic fields—such as biomagnetic fields—has previously involved the use of superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) sensors, which require cooling by liquid helium. However, due to the fact that such devices require large-scale equipment and facilities the spread of these sensors was limited to only a portion of research-conducting institutions. This time, with the advanced TDK’s magnetic sensor technology, the world’s first visualization of the magnetic field distribution of a heart, one example of a biomagnetic field, by an MR sensor array at room temperature was succeeded.
This technology also facilitates easy measurement by parallel linkage of multiple room-temperature sensors. This allows for higher-density measurement, enabling the initial location of cardiac activity to be identified, and the spread of activity to other parts of the organ to be measured and evaluated.
The use of room-temperature sensors also enables device portability. This will not only facilitate easier, more casual diagnosis of cardiac diseases in the future, but is also expected to serve as an important tool in the diagnosis of muscular and neurological diseases, and in rehabilitation and sports training applications.

Details of this success will be announced formally at The 31st Annual Meeting of Japan Biomagnetism and Bioelectromagnetics Society, to be held at the Kanazawa Bunka Hall in Ishikawa, Japan, on June 9 and 10, 2016. A live demonstration enabling participants to undergo actual measurements will also be conducted at Biomag 2016 (the 20th International Conference on Biomagnetism), to be held in Seoul, South Korea, between October 1 and October 6; and at The 9th Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society Scientific Session, also to be held in Seoul, South Korea, between October 12 and October 15.

Building on the opportunity of the success of this joint research, TDK will continue to accelerate the pace of its research and development in the magnetic sensor field, one which will be a core pillar of its operations in the future.

  • *As of May 2016, according to TDK data

  • Magnetoresistive element : An element that changes its electrical resistance according to the magnetic field applied to it. Such elements enable the detection of magnetism.
  • 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 make up the heart (i.e. cardiac) organ.
  • Muscular diseases: A collective term for diseases in which muscles suffer a loss in strength or undergo atrophy due to muscle-related abnormalities. Examples include muscular dystrophy, myositis and myasthenia gravis.
  • Neurological diseases: A collective term for diseases that cause disorders of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves, etc. The term covers a wide-range of diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), cervical disc hernia (CDH), Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), diabetic neuropathy (DN), peripheral entrapment neuropathy.
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 Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of 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-based 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 portfolio includes electronic components, modules and systems* marketed under the product brands TDK and EPCOS, power supplies, magnetic application products as well as energy devices, flash memory application devices, and others. TDK focuses on demanding markets in the areas of information and communication technology and consumer, automotive and industrial 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 2016, TDK posted total sales of USD 10.2 billion and employed about 92,000 people worldwide.

  • * The product portfolio includes ceramic, aluminum electrolytic and film capacitors, ferrites, inductors, high-frequency components such as surface acoustic wave (SAW) filter products and modules, piezo and protection components, and sensors.
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