By Monitoring and controlling spin fluctuations, the method may provide a route for enhancing the resolution of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the nanometer-scale, allowing researchers to make 3D images of smaller objects than ever before. The results have been published in the journal «Nature Physics».
Many of the elements that make up the matter around us, such as hydrogen or phosphorus, contain a magnetic nucleus at the center of each atom. This nucleus acts like a tiny magnet with a north and south pole. By applying a large magnetic field, the poles of these nuclei align along the magnetic field, producing a so-called nuclear spin polarization.
When the nuclei are irradiated with electromagnetic impulses (radio waves) at a very specific frequency, they change their direction away from the magnetic field. Because they are magnetic, the nuclei then start turning back. As they do so, they emit the energy they had previously absorbed through the radio waves. With a special antenna these signals can be detected.
This method is called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and can provide very useful information about a sample, such as its chemical composition or structure. The method also forms the basis of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can make 3D images of the density of an object and is often used on patients in hospitals.
However, for very small objects (i.e. smaller than a single cell) containing a small number of nuclei, the natural fluctuations of the nuclear spin polarization actually become larger than the polarization produced by a large magnetic field. These deviations are known as «spin noise». The fact that spin noise is so dominant at small scales is one of the reasons why measuring NMR and MRI in very small objects is so difficult.Monitoring, controlling and capturing
This is the first report of the real-time manipulation, control, and capture of fluctuations arising from nuclear spin noise. The results are immediately relevant to recent technical advances that have dramatically reduced the possible detection volumes of NMR measurements. «Improved understanding of these phenomena may lead to new high resolution nano- and atomic-scale imaging techniques», explains Poggio, Argovia Nanotechnology Professor at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The Basel method may provide a route for enhancing the sensitivity of nanometer-scale magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or possibly for the implementation of solid-state quantum computers.Further Implications
The study was supported by the Canton Aargau, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), the Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI), and the National Center of Competence in Research for Quantum Science and Technology (QSIT).Original Citation
Christoph Dieffenbacher | Universität Basel
Further reports about: > 3D images > MRI > Manipulation > Monitoring > Nanoscience > Nature Physics > Noise > Nuclear > Physic > information technology > large magnetic field > magnetic field > magnetic resonance > magnetic resonance imaging > quantum computer > quantum dot > radio waves > spin fluctuations
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