ECE seminar series: The Role of Electromagnetics in Biomedicine and Healthcare: From Implantable Diagnostic Sensors to Non-Invasive Cancer Screening

Monday, March 18, 2013 ( 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm )

Location: McLean Building, Room 510

Prof. Yingying Chen ([email protected])


The Role of Electromagnetics in Biomedicine and Healthcare: From Implantable Diagnostic Sensors to Non-Invasive Cancer Screening

BY Dr. Negar Tavassolian

Postdoctoral Associate, Cima Lab

David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Recent advances in electromagnetics theory have played a fundamental role in pushing the frontiers of biomedical technology. Interaction of electromagnetic fields with biological systems can be extremely beneficial and lead to novel medical applications. This talk will focus on measurement methods and instruments for probing external and internal electric and magnetic fields as relevant to biomedical applications. I will first discuss bio-sensing strategies based on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxation measurement techniques. A device for non-invasive, real-time determination of the hydration state in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients will be presented. I will then talk about field-implantable devices and portable NMR scanners for continuous monitoring of molecular biomarkers. Such localized sensing systems will allow early detection of diseases and provide a tool for developing personalized treatment programs.

Next, I will talk about pulsed microwave imaging in the gigahertz regime as a promising methodology for breast cancer detection. Using similar techniques to Ground Penetrating Radars, this detection method is a non-ionising and non-invasive technique based on the dielectric contrast between cancerous and healthy breast tissues. I will present finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) analysis on ultra-wideband (UWB) antenna-sensors in the vicinity of complex tissue structures and discuss potential problems associated with near-field tumor sensing. Finally, I will present my work on improving the reliability and lifetime of radio frequency (RF) micro-electromechanical (MEMS) switches, which show great promise for healthcare and biomedical applications as well as wireless and communication systems. Future research directions include miniaturization techniques using MEMS and micromachining as well as integrating RF MEMS technology with implantable clinical devices and breast cancer detection systems. I will also present techniques on further improving the reliability of MEMS devices.


Negar Tavassolian is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer research at MIT. She received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran, and McGill University, Montreal, Canada, in 2003 and 2006, respectively. She received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA in 2011. Her research interests include implantable clinical devices, non-invasive diagnostic methods, electromagnetic modeling and optimization, and micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). She is a reviewer for IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, IEEE Microwave and Wireless Components Letters, and IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters. She is the recipient of the MIT Technology Center Scholarship, and was on the Dean’s Honor List for an Outstanding M.Sc. Thesis at McGill University.