Investigation of Cryo-Cooled Microcoils for MRI
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When increasing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) resolution into the micron scale, image signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) can be maintained by using small radiofrequency (RF) coils in close proximity to the sample being imaged. Micro-scale RF coils (microcoils) can be easily fabricated on chip and placed adjacent to a sample under test. However, the high series resistance of microcoils limits the SNR due to the thermal noise generated in the copper. Cryo-cooling is a potential technique to reduce thermal noise in microcoils, thereby recovering SNR. In this research, copper microcoils of two different geometries have been cryo-cooled using liquid nitrogen. Quality-factor (Q) measurements have been taken to quantify the reduction in resistance due to cryo-cooling. Image SNR has been compared between identical coils at room temperature and liquid nitrogen temperature. The relationship between the drop in series resistance and the increase in image SNR has been analyzed, and these measurements compared to theory. While cryo-cooling can bring about dramatic increases in SNR, the extremely low temperature of liquid nitrogen is incompatible with living tissue. In general, the useful imaging region of a coil is approximately as deep as the coil diameter, thus cryo-cooling of coils has been limited in the past to larger coils, such that the thickness of a conventional cryostat does not put the sample outside of the optimal imaging region. This research utilizes a scheme of microfluidic cooling (developed in the Texas A&M NanoBio Systems Lab), which greatly reduces the volume of liquid nitrogen required to cryo-cool the coil. Along with a small gas phase nitrogen gap, this eliminates the need for a bulky cryostat. This thesis includes a review of the existing literature on cryo-cooled coils for MRI, as well as a review of planar pair coils and spiral microcoils in MR applications. Our methods of fabricating and testing these coils are described, and the results explained and analyzed. An image SNR improvement factor of 1.47 was achieved after cryo-cooling of a single planar pair coil, and an improvement factor of 4 was achieved with spiral microcoils.
magnetic resonance imaging
nuclear magnetic resonance
Godley, Richard Franklin (2011). Investigation of Cryo-Cooled Microcoils for MRI. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from