support would be especially efficacious at this early stage of exploratory medical research since it could affect the future direction of application and development of this technology.
Nuclear medicine radionuclide production for research and clinical studies depends for the most part on accelerator and reactor facilities that are remote from clinics and research institutions. This has severely limited the application of the short-lived nuclides 11C, 13N, 15O to those institutions with a local cyclotron that usually operates with a 1 to 1.5 T resistive magnet. The siting costs are dominated by shielding requirements and the size of the installation. These costs as well as cyclotron costs typically necessitate a $4 million investment. Thus for studies that take advantage of positron emission tomography, long half-life radionuclides are used, but even these cannot achieve the needed specificity to enable clinical studies in addiction, aging, heart disease, and some cancers where radionuclides such as 11C, 14N,15O, and 89Zr must be produced locally using a particle accelerator. To overcome this problem, superconducting cyclotron technology is being employed in the production of small cyclotrons at 5 to 9 T with modern cryostats and turnkey operations. A commercial prototype is being developed by Ionetix, Inc., with expected clinical installations in 2014.
High fields define a scientific frontier, and the new phases that are discovered as higher fields are made available are the feedstock for new materials and devices that reproduce these new behaviors at low or even zero field. Increased field strength inevitably leads to enhanced sensitivity and new experimental techniques that in turn increase the tempo of scientific discovery. Each breakthrough in magnet technology and experimental capability leads to a new flurry of scientific revelation and discovery, which in turn enables the next round of technological breakthrough. This virtuous cycle is nowhere more evident than in the bootstrap process by which new magnets are themselves developed, where access to higher magnetic fields provides the means for testing and improving the new concepts and components that will make possible the next generation of magnets.
It is imperative that magnet technology be constantly challenged—and also supported!—to provide the innovation that enables the ever higher fields that fuel these discoveries. It is in this spirit that the committee recommends here three magnet development goals. Each is a novel and first-in-class project, and significant development efforts will be required to reach the stated goals. These magnets also represent significant investments in the national research infrastructure, because