Magnetic resonance imaging technologies


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies such as body-MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, and magnetic resonance force microscopy. All these technologies share a common limitation: low nuclear polarization ($ 10^{-3}$). The margin for improvement is huge!

The two established methods for increasing polarization are (1) increasing the background magnetic field and (2) dynamic nuclear polarization. Unfortunately, both present practical difficulties.

The emerging field of separative magnetization transport (SMT) is attempting to use the concepts derived from geometric thermodynamics and separation science to increase polarization; that is, hyperpolarize an imaging sample.

My work

I collaborate with the University of Washington on SMT research. We have a functioning MRFM microscope, one of only a handful in the world. We are working to experimentally validate our SMT theoretical models.

Selected publications

Rico A.R. Picone, Joseph L. Garbini, John A. Sidles. Modeling spin magnetization transport in a spatially varying magnetic field. Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, Volume 374, 15 January 2015, Pages 440–450.

Rico A.R. Picone. Separative magnetization transport: theory, model, and experiment. PhD Thesis, University of Washington, 2014.

Human-computer interaction


Human-computer interaction (HCI) studies the design of computer systems and the interface of humans with these systems. It includes such fields as embedded computing, augmented reality, haptics, and intelligence amplification.

My work

I have two current projects in HCI. Both projects are focused on different aspects of intelligence amplification, and one includes an embedded computing aspect.

Information architecture

An information architecture is a structural description of an information system. We have developed a new information architecture for intelligence amplification. A startup company, dialectica has sprung up around these ideas.

Selected publications

Rico A.R. Picone and Bryan Powell. A New Information Architecture: a Synthesis of Structure, Flow, and Dialectic. Human Interface and the Management of Information: Information and Knowledge Design, Springer, Volume 9172, 2015, Pages 320-331.

Smart devices

Smart devices–devices with embedded computers–are becoming ubiquitous. My research group at Saint Martin’s University is focused on designing smart devices that augment the user’s ability to make decisions. These devices can gather information about the user’s situation that the user may not be able to access, then inform the user.

One group of students, the deltaE group, is designing a smart thermostat with new capabilities to save energy through informing a user about the effects of her decisions. This project is funded by Puget Sound Energy.

Engineering education

Engineering education is a lively field because technology is rapidly advancing. As educators, we must respond to the changing landscape in order to prepare our students to thrive as engineers.

Selected publications

Rico A.R. Picone and Paul E. Slaboch. A Novel Set of Courses for Teaching Electrical System Analysis to Mechanical Engineering Students. Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education Rocky Mountain Section Conference, April 2015.

Philosophy of engineering

Technology is a defining feature of our historical era. Its effects on every aspect of human life are significant, and can be positive or negative. Engineers must have an awareness of the effects of their technologies on themselves, others, and the global community.

I am developing a philosophy of engineering, which is related to, but fundamentally different than, philosophies of science. It is my hope this philosophy will guide engineers trying to navigate the complexities of creating new technologies.