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Next generation BrainPET scanner for 7T MRI

Simultaneous UHF (Ultra High Frequency) PET-MRI (Positron Emission Tomography–Magnetic Resonance Imaging) acquisition opens up a new dimension in non-invasive medical imaging, allowing for precise temporal and spatial superposition of information from anatomical structures, various physiological parameters and metabolic processes.

Both PET and UHF MRI, being state-of-the-art independent imaging technologies, exhibit potential for synergy: while MRI provides high-resolution anatomical and functional information, PET delivers very high sensitivity in the detection of radioactively tagged biomolecules, and is an important in vivo molecular imaging technique in neuroscience. However, their simultaneous operation as a single entity demands well thought-out architectural design, and redesign of various parts of the initial systems in order to avoid mutual interference between the both modalities.

The current project aims at the development of a completely new, high-resolution, and highly sensitive PET insert prototype designed to operate in combination with UHF MRI systems up to 7T and beyond. By using the latest detector technologies, and through design of a powerful data acquisition system, it will provide an exceptional imaging performance.

At ZEA-2, we are responsible for two work-packages of the project: development of the data acquisition (DAQ) and power supply units (PSU) for the PET detector system (see Figure 1). The DAQ will consist of µTCA [1] based multi-FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) hardware, coupled with a powerful server system. While the FPGA facility will communicate with the PET detector system via optical links, and allow for data readout and pre-processing, the server will provide storage, post-processing, and visualization of the data. The PSU must be designed for operating in high static and rapidly changing magnetic field environments, shielded against high frequency irradiation, and generate multiple voltages up to 45V with the total current up to 400A. In order to decrease power dissipation, and optimize power consumption of the PET detector system, the PSU will be equipped with an intelligent voltage control functionality.

Architectural diagram of the PET-MRI insert hardwareFigure 1: Architectural diagram of the PET-MRI insert hardware

The project is funded through the Helmholtz Validation Fund (HVF 0051, brainPET 7T), and involves cooperation between several institutions of the Forschungszentrum Jülich, national and international universities, and various companies.


[1] PICMG, "MTCA.0 Short Form Specification," 21 09 2006. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 28 05 2018].