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Medical applications of polarization techniques developed for nuclear and particle physics.

Presently the Experimental Nuclear Physics Group from the University of South Carolina is actively involved in the design and construction of a polarized target needed for nuclear experiments at the Thomas Jefferson Laboratory in Virginia. The polarized target should contain a large number of polarized nuclei. Static techniques such as just keeping the target at low temperature (0.5 K) and high magnetic field (2.5 T), only achieve very modest nuclear polarization (less than 0.5%). In view of the sensitivity problem, increasing the signal-to-noise ratio has been a field of continuous research which stimulated the study and development of new advanced technologies. To enhance the nuclear polarization, in contrast to the static approach, one can use dynamic techniques to first polarize the electrons then transfer (via the hyperfine interactions) the angular momentum from the polarized electrons to the nuclei. Monitoring the polarization is done by the nuclear magnetic resonance technique. Using dynamic methods, a nuclear polarization could be increased higher than 70%. To get targets with polarized protons, deutrons or heavier nuclei, solid high molecular compounds admixed with paramagnetic centers (quasi-free electrons) which are chemically doped or created by external irradiation, are mostly used. The disadvantage of this kind of solid targets is that there is up to 80-85% of "background" nuclei affecting the experimental results. One option to improve this situation is to polarize so-called "pure targets" such as HD and noble gases (He-3 or Xe-129) polarized targets. Recent progress in the polarization of noble gases has made possible the use of these technologies in medical applications. Noble gases can be polarized and then directly introduced into blood or tissue to obtain high resolution time-resolved nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images. Supported by DOE/EPSCoR Grant # DE-FG02-02ER45959
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Author:Dzyubak, O.; Djalali, C.; Tedeschi, D.
Publication:Bulletin of the South Carolina Academy of Science
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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