quencies. If a frequency sweep is performed slowly enough then at the end of the process all the nuclei will be "inverted." The confounding thing, says Grandinetti, is that for decades adiabatic sweeps worked in many situations, even though the mathematics predicted that they should not have. Solving this mystery, Grandinetti and his colleagues turned to a new mathematical framework, called "superadiabaticity" that was discovered in the late 1980s by Michael Berry, a mathematical physicist at University of Bristol, but largely unappreciated until now.
The difference between the two processes is represented in the equations, and the upshot, says Grandinetti, is that now scientists have the correct mathematical framework to work with. This can help them design ways to better control MRI inversions and get more information out of MRI scans.
"We were just viewing the problem wrongly," says Grandinetti, who conducted the research in collaboration with his colleagues Michael Deschamps and Dominique Massiot at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France and Gwendal Kervern, Guido Pintacuda, and Lyndon Emsley the University of Lyon in France.
"It is exciting because everyone missed this simple explanation," adds Grandinetti.
Grandinetti hopes to incorporate the algorithm into software for controlling MRI scans, where it would boost image resolution. One day, it might even help these instruments obtain signals from objects located outside of a magnet. Scientists, he adds, could also use superadiabaticity to exert better control over atoms for quantum computing, and to make more precise structural studies of complex biological molecules.
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