Atomic magnetometers are the devices, which are used for high sensitivity detection of magnetic fields in a large number of applications such as locating unexploded underground structures to detecting biomagnetic fields associated with heart and brain. Atomic magnetometers have shown remarkable changes in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) systems with its recent innovation in achieving maximum sensitivity for biomagnetic fields without using cryogenic cooling. This procedure has helped in developing NMR and MRI equipments with reduced size and less operating expenses. Atomic magnetometers also enable accurate prediction of studies related to drug delivery for pharmaceutical development. Currently, research activities are being conducted to develop atomic magnetometers for magnetoencephalography (MEG), in order to measure magnetic fields produced by electric impulses in the human brain. According to the type of products, the atomic magnetometer market is segmented into two categories namely:
- Cold atomic magnetometry
- Spin-exchange relaxation-free (SERF) magnetometer
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Among these, SERF magnetometers are majorly used due to their high sensitivity per unit volume towards biomagnetic fields in comparison to cold atomic magnetometers. These magnetometers use lasers to detect the interaction between alkali metal atoms in vapor and in magnetic field. SERF magnetometers are also capable of detecting magnetic impurities, which enhance the quality of the results inferred by the devices as it eliminates the interferences caused during magnetic imaging.
The atomic magnetometers market is growing at faster pace majorly due to its capability of producing low-cost MRI for noninvasive diagnostics. Additionally, atomic magnetometers monitor chemical reactions and biological processes associated with heart and brain using magnetic particles which results in more accurate analysis of human anatomy. High sensitivity to weak magnetic fields, low initial cost, low maintenance cost and portability are some of the other factors which are also helping the atomic magnetometers market to grow rapidly. The atomic magnetometers market is also facing few restraints such as atomic magnetometers can operate only near zero magnetic field and the necessity to heat sensor vapor cell before operation. This is because high magnetic field leads to generation of electric current in human body which interferes in medical imaging procedure resulting in inappropriate results.
Large number of the companies are involved in research and development and manufacturing of the atomic magnetometers. Companies based in U.S. and Europe have shown major interest in atomic magnetometers market majorly due to government support towards research and development activities and availability of suitable infrastructure. Recently, Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory has developed an optical atomic magnetometer which works efficiently for MRI systems. The company received the U.S. patent for this product in 2012. This system consists of several micrometer and nanometer sized magnetic particles which add controllable dimension for large number of biological processes. This system can be used for controlled drug delivery, cell separation, hyperthermia treatment and protein labeling in addition to medical imaging.
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Asia-Pacific based companies such as Conon, Inc., which is based in Japan and Parton Elecom Corporation, Ltd., Korea are also acting as major market players in the atomic magnetometers market. Other major key players and institutes in atomic magnetometers market include Sandia National Laboratories, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., Sinclair Research Center, Inc., Singer Company, Varian Associates, Intel Corporation, Southwest Sciences, Inc., Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, Georgia Tech Research Corporation and The University Of New Mexico, University of California.
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