First-order gradiometers inside a magnetically shielded room (MSR) were used to cancel magnetic-field noise. However, the magnetic field inside a MSR is distorted when the amount of external noise is large. This distortion is caused by the low-pass filter property of the MSR. Therefore, the time constants of the frequency-dependent attenuation of the MSR vary spatially and this variation must be taken into account. To investigate noise cancellation, we used a multichannel superconducting quantum interference device consisting of four gradiometers measuring a source signal and two gradiometers as a reference. To compensate for the different magnitudes of the gradiometer wave forms, which differed because of slight differences in their pickup-coil cancel rates, we calculated a fitting parameter. The noise-cancellation method consisted of two processes: reduction of ambient noise caused by the differences in the cancel rate of the gradiometers and a gradient magnetic field inside the MSR, and cancellation of wave-form distortion caused by the spatial variation of the time constants inside the MSR. This cancellation method provides additional attenuation of over 20-30 dB in addition to the balance (>46 dB) of a first-order gradiometer. However, the remaining noise, especially a spike (<2 pT) at the beginning of a large ambient noise step, could not be completely canceled. This noise was caused by the slight difference between the time constants at the reference sensor position and at the signal sensor position. Except for this noise spike, however, the noise cancellation enabled clear magnetocardiogram wave forms to be measured without being affected by strong external noise.
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