Hyperpolarized GasesConventional 1H pulmonary Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) applications are restricted by low sensitivity and contrast due to the low proton density in the lung. Therefore, clinical lung MRI is increasingly employing hyperpolarized (HP) gases as functional contrast agents. While inhaled HP 3He is particularly well suited for ventilation measurements and depicting lung morphology, whereas HP 129Xe can be of great benefit for perfusion measurements because of its higher solubility in liquids, e.g. blood.
Our group conducts basic research with both, 129Xe and 3He. Both nuclei have spin=1/2 and can be laser-polarized. This means that angular momentum from a circular polarized laser beam is transferred to the nuclei. We are able to polarize 129Xe with a home-built polarizer (developed and built by S. Appelt et al.; FZ Jülich). The polarized 3He is provided by the group of Prof. Heil (Institute of physics; University of Mainz).
During the last years several topics of hyperpolarized gas imaging have been investigated in our group. The main results concern "simultaneous NMR-Imaging of hyperpolarized 3He and 129Xe", "direct molecular solution of hyperpolarized gases through hollow fibre membranes", "detection of pseudo spin echoes in gases" and "observation of distant dipolar fields in HP gases".