Ji Chen, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) with the UH Cullen College of Engineering, is a leading researcher in the field of electromagnetic compatibility. Today, we are taking a peek inside one of Chen’s labs which is devoted to compatibility testing with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and implantable medical devices, such as pacemakers.
Since the radio frequency (RF) energy from MRI machines can significantly increase in temperature near metallic implants, individuals with medical devices with metal components are unable to undergo these scans. Chen has developed a formula that describes this heating process in depth and has proposed a filter that could literally block medical devices from electromagnetic waves.
Today, Chen and ECE graduate students Kevin Feng and Qingyan Wang are giving us a demonstration of the daily work they do inside of this lab. Chen and his students place a metallic implantable medical device inside of a phantom, or an object used to test the performance of an MRI machine (in this case, a large clear tub of liquid). The phantom containing the metal implantable device is placed inside of the MRI machine, at which point the team will begin to induce voltage. By running this simulation on different kinds of implantable medical devices, Chen and his students are identifying the highest induced voltage each device can safely withstand, as well as examining the heating effect on the device.