Advanced imaging technology – enhancing research, diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) – using single SQUIDs (Superconducting-Quantum-Interference-Devices) – is the most sensitive brain imaging technique available. It is used extensively in the research, diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases such as depression, schizophrenia, dementia, epilepsy and strokes.

We have developed and patented a superior MEG-imaging technology that uses SQUIDs-arrays. Following a successful three-way collaboration with CTF-MEG and Star-Cryoelectronics – world leaders in MEG-imaging devices and superconducting technology, respectively – we are now implementing our SQUID-array technology in CTF-MEG’s brain imaging devices.

This cutting-edge equipment has the potential to revolutionise brain imaging, facilitating early disease diagnose and a better understanding of brain functionality.

Image note: We are currently replacing single-SQUIDs with SQUID-arrays in these CTF-MEG devices.

Our impact

Novel capabilities

  • Our product is recognised as unique and protected by patents in Europe (EP3320357B1, 2019), the UK (GB2540146, 2017) and US (US20180164385A1, 2020) – we have a patent pending in Canada
  • Our arrays offer improved performance – up to 10 times greater than single-SQUIDs
  • Applications extend beyond medicine into geology (oil prospecting and mineral exploration), magnetometry (investigations of magnetic materials), particle and X-ray detectors, astronomy, and the military.

CTF-MEG’s imaging systems are used worldwide

  • Prestigious medical institutions in the US (Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Institute for Mental Health), UK (Surrey Memorial Hospital) and Canada (Hospital for Sick Children and Montreal Neurological Institute).
  • UK universities including University College of London, Cardiff University and The University of Nottingham.
  • Other locations include Ospedale San Camillo (Italy) and the Chinese Academy of Science (Beijing).

The research

Our work to develop SQUID-arrays began in 2013. We explored numerous types of arrays, and investigated several configurations – series, parallel and series-parallel – to optimise our technology’s capability.

Prototype testing provided excellent results – in comparison to all other existing products, our technology demonstrates a dramatic improvement in accuracy and sensitivity.

Arrays only work effectively if all individual SQUIDs experience voltage modulation coherency – the same magnetic flux passing through them – and interactions and interference between them are minimised.

Large flux focusers are used to increase sensitivity of single-SQUIDs, but they are currently fairly cumbersome – reducing the room available for large SQUID arrays.

To support the superior performance of our ground-breaking technology, we have developed a novel flux focuser that resolves the issue – without impacting the area available in the chip for large SQUID arrays.

Our collaborations with CTF-MEG and Star-Cryoelectronics are ongoing as we continue to develop and refine the technology.

Your team showed the superior sensitivity of SQUID-arrays… The upgrade of technology is timely, given the need felt for many years of improved accuracy of brain images, demanded by detailed medical assessments.

Mark Tillotson Director of Engineering - CTF-MEG

170 medical facilities worldwide use MEG systems

9 leading UK universities use SQUID-based MEG systems

Research funders

  • HEIF
  • Loughborough University

Development partners

  • CTF-MEG (British Columbia, Canada)
  • Star-Cryoelectronics (Santa Fe, USA)
  • The University of Nottingham

Meet the experts

Dr Daniel John

Former PhD student and Research Associate


Our technology has been adopted by CTF-MEG and is being implemented in their brain imaging devices.