Enhancement of Solution NMR and MRI with Laser-Polarized Xenon

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Science  29 Mar 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5257, pp. 1848-1851
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5257.1848


Optical pumping with laser light can be used to polarize the nuclear spins of gaseous xenon-129. When hyperpolarized xenon-129 is dissolved in liquids, a time-dependent departure of the proton spin polarization from its thermal equilibrium is observed. The variation of the magnetization is an unexpected manifestation of the nuclear Overhauser effect, a consequence of cross-relaxation between the spins of solution protons and dissolved xenon-129. Time-resolved magnetic resonance images of both nuclei in solution show that the proton magnetization is selectively perturbed in regions containing spin-polarized xenon-129. This effect could find use in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of surfaces and proteins and in magnetic resonance imaging.