Dr. Bruce J. Balcom
Professor and Director, UNB MRI Centre
Canada Research Chair
BSc (Mount Allison), PhD (UWO)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is probably the most flexible and powerful diagnostic imaging technique available to clinical medicine. The promise of MRI in material science – an ability to observe and quantify structure and dynamics evolving non-invasively as a function of treatment, processing, use or conditioning has been frustrated by the inability of traditional MRI techniques to observe the very short lived magnetic resonance signals typically encountered outside of the pure liquid state.
The UNB MRI Centre has invented a family of new MRI methods which permit the ready visualization of mobile and immobile 1H containing structures not only in vivo, but in a large range of materials including concrete, polymers, composites, food materials and microporous solids. The successful application of our new MRI techniques, with allied hardware and software innovations, has opened entirely new vistas in material science research. The UNB MRI Centre is the only material science MRI laboratory in Canada and the only university based laboratory of its type in North America. As the birthplace of the SPRITE technique we are, by definition, the leading laboratory world-wide in many aspects of material science MRI. The merits of this work have been recognized by the award of an NSERC Steacie Fellowship and a Canada Research Chair (2002-2009, renewed to 2016) to the Laboratory Director, Bruce Balcom.
Current research work is proceeding on several fronts in parallel.
1. Fundamental work on MRI pulse sequence development. This work is intended to expand the range of applicability and flexibility of our techniques while simultaneously increasing experimental sensitivity.
2. Development of novel MRI hardware and data processing methods particularly as it relates to industrial MR and MRI applications.
3. Application of our techniques to problems in Material Science. Our applications work is undertaken in collaboration with a wide range of academic and industrial research laboratories world-wide. In recent years increased effort has been devoted to rock core analysis with major international oil companies.