In magnetic induction tomography reducing the influence of the primary excitation field on the sensors can provide a significant improvement in SNR and/or allow the operating frequency to be reduced. For the purposes of imaging, it would be valuable if all, or a useful subset, of the detection coils could be rendered insensitive to the primary field for any excitation coil activated. Suitable schemes which have been previously suggested include the use of axial gradiometers and coil-orientation methods (Bx sensors). This paper examines the relative performance of each method through computer simulation of the sensitivity profiles produced by a single sensor, and comparison of reconstructed images produced by sensor arrays. A finite-difference model was used to determine the sensitivity profiles obtained with each type of sensor arrangement. The modelled volume was a cuboid of dimensions 50 cmx50 cmx12 cm with a uniform conductivity of 1 S m-1. The excitation coils were of 5 cm diameter and the detection coils of 5 mm diameter. The Bx sensors provided greater sensitivity than the axial gradiometers at all depths, other than on the surface layer of the volume. Images produced using a single-planar array were found to contain distortion which was reduced by the addition of a second array.
In this study the performance of a planar array for magnetic induction tomography (MIT) was investigated and the results of measurements to determine the precision and sensitivity of the sensor were undertaken. A planar-array MIT system utilizing flux-linkage minimization for the primary field has been constructed and evaluated. The system comprises 4 printed excitation coils of 4 turns which were shielded, 8 surface-mount inductors of inductance 10 microH as sensor, mounted such that in principle no primary-field flux threads them, and a calibration coil to produce a strong primary field. The excitation current was multiplexed via relays to drive the excitation and reference coils. The noise values were similar in real and imaginary components in the lower frequencies and the factor to which the primary field could be reduced was greatest in the nearest coil. Methods for determining the true real and imaginary components and for flux-linkage minimization for the primary field for variations in channel sensitivities are described and the results of measurements of the system's noise and drift are given. A SNR of 47 dB was observed at 4 MHz when a 0.3 Sm-1 saline filled tank of dimensions 20 cmx20 cmx10 cm was placed centrally over the array. Finally, images were reconstructed from measurements of saline samples in a free space background, with the samples moved past the array in 21 1 cm steps to emulate mechanical scanning of the array. The image reconstruction characteristics of the planar array in conjunction with the reconstruction technique employed are discussed.