Professor Ernst W. Otten of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, is one of the winner of the international award of the Körber Foundation for European Science. He made a major contribution to the development of helium-3, which is highly useful in pulmonary diagnostics.
Professor Ernst W. Otten, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz

Ready for market launch in three to four years

Professor Otten, what are the challenges of your method?

Otten: First, it is important, and complicated, to produce large quantities of helium with a high degree of polarization. Each patient has to inhale a liter of helium-3 for a tomographic examination. Second, you have to delay the decay time of the helium-3 magnetization because of the transport to clinics, and this is where the iron-free glass containers from SCHOTT play an important role.

How do SCHOTT’s helium flasks help alleviate this problem?

Otten: Specialists fabricated the first flasks last year and have since continuously improved them. Thanks to these flasks, we have ultimately achieved a helium polarization “life span” of some 50 hours and can produce some 50 to 100 liters of polarized helium-3 per day.

Is the new method already in clinical use?

Otten: We are pursuing medical registration and already supply three clinics in Mainz, Sheffield and Copenhagen, where, as part of a trial, patients are being examined using this method.