Skip to Main Content
In most magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems, pulsed magnetic gradient fields induce eddy currents in the conducting structures of the superconducting magnet. The eddy currents induced in structures within the cryostat are particularly problematic as they are characterized by long time constants by virtue of the low resistivity of the conductors. This paper presents a three-dimensional (3-D) finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) scheme in cylindrical coordinates for eddy-current calculation in conductors. This model is intended to be part of a complete FDTD model of an MRI system including all RF and low-frequency field generating units and electrical models of the patient. The singularity apparent in the governing equations is removed by using a series expansion method and the conductor-air boundary condition is handled using a variant of the surface impedance concept. The numerical difficulty due to the "asymmetry" of Maxwell equations for low-frequency eddy-current problems is circumvented by taking advantage of the known penetration behavior of the eddy-current fields. A perfectly matched layer absorbing boundary condition in 3-D cylindrical coordinates is also incorporated. The numerical method has been verified against analytical solutions for simple cases. Finally, the algorithm is illustrated by modeling a pulsed field gradient coil system within an MRI magnet system. The results demonstrate that the proposed FDTD scheme can be used to calculate large-scale eddy-current problems in materials with high conductivity at low frequencies.