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Thermal MagIC: An SI-Traceable Method for 3D Thermal Magnetic Imaging and Control


Illustration of Thermal MagIC assembly with coils

Temperature affects every physical system, every chemical reaction, and every biological process. Although imaging within materials and living things with X-rays and magnetic resonance is now routine, no general method to measure and regulate temperature throughout a 3D volume currently exists.

We are developing just such a method for Systeme International (SI)-traceable Thermal Magnetic Imaging and Control (Thermal MagIC) which will provide microscale spatial resolution and 25 mK accuracy within measurement times of 0.1 s in optically hidden volumes of solid composites, complex fluids, and biological systems. The method comprises three elements: magnetic nano-objects (MNOs) with high thermal sensitivity from 200 K to 400 K, a spatially-selective magnetic drive and sensing instrument, and a technique for traceable extraction of temperature from the magnetic response of the MNOs. Thermal MagIC will enable accurate, 3D measurement and control of temperature for research and development, as well as manufacturing and quality control, anywhere temperature plays a critical role.

When successful, NIST will have localized and remote temperature measurement and control system based on

  • Magnetic nanoparticle (MNP) thermostats
  • Near room temperature
  • Remote
  • Non-optical
  • Microscale spatial resolution
  • 25 mK temperature resolution
  • Improved fundamental measurement science and understanding of interfaces
  • Broad impact across diverse fields in industry, including automotive, electronics, chem/bio engineering, medicine


Created October 1, 2019, Updated November 9, 2020