Photographic Moment

World’s Largest Brain Scanner Delivered to NIH

Giant MRI magnet being held by straps hanging from a crane

CREDIT: DINH NGUYEN, OD

The world’s most powerful magnetic-resonance-imaging scanner was delivered to NIH in March and installed in the NIH Clinical Center (Building 10). The 11.7-Tesla magnet, weighing 51 tons, was built in Italy, journeyed across the ocean by cargo ship to Baltimore, and then transported by tractor-trailer truck to NIH. A huge crane gently lifted the scanner and slid it via a special trolley through an opening in side of the building. Scientists hope the scanner’s high resolution will help to bridge the gap between scanners and microscopes, and invasive electrode recording of neural activity. The new machine is jointly funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute of Mental Health, with NINDS being the lead institute. Typical clinical MRI scanners are 1.5-Tesla and research scanners are typically 3-Tesla. NIH also has two even more powerful 7-Tesla scanners. The 11.7-Tesla scanner is the most powerful of all.