and engineers from all the communities working today on magnet technology should be brought together: the magnet engineers at the NHMFL; academic researchers; the magnet designers in the high-energy physics and fusion communities; commercial vendors of superconducting magnets, including nuclear magnetic resonance and magnetic resonance imaging systems; and manufacturers of advanced materials, such as high-strength materials and superconducting wire.
The sharing of information and resources within the larger community, which is now fragmented into components that communicate poorly, would accelerate the rate at which solutions are found to the fundamental problems confronted by all. The committee proposes that the involved communities cooperate to establish a consortium for developing the technology necessary to pursue several aggressive goals that may have different timescales. Some groups might frame their goals in terms of application-specific requirements for magnet performance, such as the development of a 30-T superconducting high-resolution magnet for NMR, a 60-T DC hybrid magnet, or a 100-T long-pulse magnet. Others, such as the high-energy physics and fusion science communities, might focus explicitly on the materials problems intrinsic to enabling high-volume production of quality conductors for a variety of magnet systems.
Recommendation. Government agencies supporting high-field magnetic resonance research should directly support the development of technology and instrumentation for magnetic resonance and magnetic resonance imaging.
Without the concomitant development of ancillary technologies, the construction of higher-field magnets for magnetic resonance will not produce the scientific dividends it should. While federal funding for the application of existing technology and methods to specific scientific problems has generally been good, federal funding for the development of novel technology and methodology has been poor. Magnetic resonance and MRI instrument manufacturers have done a good job of advancing the supporting technologies for these techniques when commercial markets for their products justified their doing so. However, there are many areas where technological advances are sorely needed but the commercial market is not large enough to attract the attention of instrument manufacturers. For example, optimal coils for high-field MRI will probably not be realized unless groups outside the commercial sector undertake a sizable research program. Likewise, because higher fields cause significant changes in the relative strengths of the interactions that determine how nuclear magnetic moments evolve, pulse sequences and methodologies will have to be improved if magnetic resonance research is to take full advantage of high-field magnet advances.