Superconductors, quantum mechanics and nanotech are being combined to discover cancerous tumours so small they can’t be seen by the current best imaging methods.
The "Superconducting QUantum Interference Device" or SQUID is being used by a research team from the University of California at Riverside and New York's Long Island Cancer Center to find injected tumour-specific nanoparticles that act like submicroscopic cancer-detection beacons.
SQUID is the world’s most sensitive magnetic sensor and can measure magnetic fields as small as 1 femtotesla, or one quadrillionth of a tesla. The technique used is called "magnetoencephalography" or MEG.
Non-toxic superparamagnetic nanoparticles (spnps) are introduced into the body where they target specific cells. Computer simulations show that SQUID could then be used to detect collections of abnormal cells targeted by such particles.