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Berkeley scientists bring MRI/NMR to microreactors
Date:1/28/2008

which gives rise to a magnetic moment, meaning the nuclei act as if they were bar magnets with a north and south pole. Obtaining an MRI/NMR signal depends upon an excess of nuclei in a sample with spins pointing in one direction or the other.

At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen gas exists in one of two molecular forms ortho and para with the former making up about 75-percent of the mixture. Both molecular forms are diatomic, but in orthohydrogen, the spins of the two protons in the nuclei are pointed in the same direction, whereas in parahydrogen, the spins of the two protons point in opposite directions. By increasing the fraction of parahydrogen in the gas mixture there is a net excess in the para spin state even at room temperature and in the complete absence of a magnetic field. Under the right conditions, this hyperpolarization can be passed on to other nuclei and used to substantially boost the strength of their MRI/NMR signals by several orders of magnitude.

Pines, Bouchard and Burt have found a way to use parahydrogen enhanced gas in combination with propylene gas and a heterogenized catalyst to achieve a strong MRI/NMR signal from samples in the gas-phase, something that has only been done before using hyperpolarized noble gases and expensive polarization equipment. A mixture of propylene and parahydrogen enriched gas (about 40-percent parahydrogen) is flowed through a reactor cell containing a catalyst (Wilkinsons catalyst) thats been immobilized on a modified silica gel. As the parahydrogen enhanced gas mixture passes over the catalyst, hydrogenation takes place. This produces spin polarized propane gas that is transferred to an MRI/NMR magnet. The catalyst-free hyperpolarized propane gas can then be used to enhance MRI/NMR signals.

The enhanced MRI/NMR sensitivity provided by parahydrogen induced polarization allows us to overcome the inherent problem of low sensitivity in thermally polarized gas-phase MRI/NMR, sa
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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