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New paradigm for nanoscale resolution MRI experimentally achieved

Date:
September 27, 2013
Source:
University of Illinois College of Engineering
Summary:
A team of researchers has devised a novel nuclear magnetic resonance imaging technique that delivers a roughly 10-nanometer spatial resolution. This represents a significant advance in MRI sensitivity -- modern MRI techniques commonly used in medical imaging yield spatial resolutions on the millimeter length scale, with the highest-resolution experimental instruments giving spatial resolution of a few micrometers.

Illustration of the experimental setup shows the two unique components of the teams novel MRI technique that was successful in producing a 2D MRI image with spatial resolution on the nanoscale.
Credit: University of Illinois

A team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University has devised a novel nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that delivers a roughly 10­nanometer spatial resolution. This represents a significant advance in MRI sensitivity -- modern MRI techniques commonly used in medical imaging yield spatial resolutions on the millimeter length scale, with the highest-resolution experimental instruments giving spatial resolution of a few micrometers.

"This is a very promising experimental result," said U. of I. physicist Raffi Budakian, who led the research effort. "Our approach brings MRI one step closer in its eventual progress toward atomic-scale imaging."

MRI is used widely in clinical practice to distinguish pathologic tissue from normal tissue. It is noninvasive and harmless to the patient, using strong magnetic fields and non-ionizing electromagnetic fields in the radio frequency range, unlike CT scans and tradiational X-rays, which both use more harmful ionizing radiation.

MRI uses static and time-dependent magnetic fields to detect the collective response of large ensembles of nuclear spins from molecules localized within millimeter-scale volumes in the body. Increasing the detection resolution from the millimeter to nanometer range would be a technological dream come true.

The team's breakthrough -- the new technique introduces two unique components to overcome obstacles to applying classic pulsed magnetic resonance techniques in nanoscale systems. First, a novel protocol for spin manipulation applies periodic radio-frequency magnetic field pulses to encode temporal correlations in the statistical polarization of nuclear spins in the sample. Second, a nanoscale metal constriction focuses current, generating intense magnetic field-pulses.

In their proof-of-principal demonstration, the team used an ultrasensitive magnetic resonance sensor based on a silicon nanowire oscillator to reconstruct a two-dimensional projection image of the proton density in a polystyrene sample at nanoscale spatial resolution.

"We expect this new technique to become a paradigm for nanoscale magnetic-resonance imaging and spectroscopy into the future," added Budakian. "It is compatible with and can be incorporated into existing conventional MRI technologies."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois College of Engineering. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John M. Nichol, Tyler R. Naibert, Eric R. Hemesath, Lincoln J. Lauhon, Raffi Budakian. Nanoscale Fourier-Transform Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Physical Review X, 2013; 3 (3) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.3.031016

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois College of Engineering. "New paradigm for nanoscale resolution MRI experimentally achieved." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130927123504.htm>.
University of Illinois College of Engineering. (2013, September 27). New paradigm for nanoscale resolution MRI experimentally achieved. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130927123504.htm
University of Illinois College of Engineering. "New paradigm for nanoscale resolution MRI experimentally achieved." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130927123504.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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