Helium in Research

Helium in Research

When we say helium, your first thoughts are probably of party balloons and flying blimps. However, with its high thermal conductivity, low molecular weight and size, and the lowest known boiling point (approximately -269°C or -451°F), helium is a colorless and odorless noble gas with several other uses.

Chemically inert and non-flammable, this lighter-than-air gas has various physical and chemical properties that have given it many useful applications from medicine to modern electronics. 

Here’s how helium plays a massive role in scientific research and development.


Helium in Medical Fields

Hospitals need MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) for diagnosing strokes, tumors, brain diseases, and cancer.

Helium is also used to treat ailments like emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other conditions that affect the lungs, partly because the gas helps patients breathe easier. Helium, when mixed with oxygen, gets to the lungs quicker than oxygen alone.

This is crucial since people with respiratory issues often find it difficult to exercise, which can hamper their overall well-being. In such cases, helium can be part of their treatment plan.


Helium in Magnetic Resonance Imaging Devices

One of the top uses of helium is in operating MRI and NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) machinery.

Liquid helium is a critical cooling component for the superconducting magnets found in magnetic resonance imaging machines. This is because superconducting magnets provide the magnetic field that MRI machines rely on to function. They’re made of several winding wires and coils through which electric currents pass to generate magnetic fields up to 2.0 tesla.

To regulate and maintain a magnetic field of this intensity, immense energy is required which is produced by dropping the resistance in the wires to almost zero. This is done by cooling down or freezing the superconducting magnets in the MRIs. Liquid helium is effective for this purpose since its temperature can go down to -451 degrees F.

The superconducted magnets in MRIs then capture high-resolution images of internal organs and tissues. MRI results are used for research in biology, chemistry, and medicine.

Moreover, regulating the energy produced also helps reduce the cost of MRI machines.


Helium in Brain Cell Research

Many laboratory instruments that work at super-low temperatures all over the US use helium as a coolant to function.

For instance, devices involved in brain cell research use helium since they need to measure very small magnetic fields.

Although liquid nitrogen is used as a replacement in some cases, it doesn’t always work since its temperature doesn’t get as low as liquid helium.


nexAir KnowHow to Forge Forward

You now know that the uses of helium gas go far beyond general applications like balloons and blimps. In fact, it’s one of the most important gases in modern technology.

To meet the many applications that rely on it, nexAir delivers gas and liquid helium in its purest form. nexAir knows the importance of having pure gas so that the most accurate results in any area of research can be attained.

If you’re looking for a helium gas supplier to aid your research work, our KnowHow and team of experts can help you with our high-quality helium products.

If you’re unable to find what you’re looking for, reach out to us. We can also help your business Forge Forward with helium mixtures that meet your unique and stringent requirements.


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