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Nuclear Hyperpolarization

For Metabolic and Molecular MRI

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The focus of our group is to make the hidden powers of magnetic resonance accessible for medical diagnostics and to unlock new areas of application. It is our goal to enable new diagnostic parameters that provide insight into metabolism, physiology and function of living organisms. We pursue this goal by developing new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) sequences, new hardware, and new methods for the hyperpolarization of nuclear spins.

Despite the fact that MRI has become one of the most important pillars of medical diagnostics, the method is extremely insensitive: In fact, all modern MRI systems use only a few parts per million of the signal that is theoretically available. Hyperpolarization makes the rest of this signal accessible by increasing the inherently low nuclear spin polarization, resulting in MR signal enhancements of over 10.000 fold. This is done by using knowledge from quantum mechanics, statistical physics and chemistry to manipulate nuclear spins thus that an energy state is strongly overpopulated. Bridging the gap between nuclear spin physics and medical diagnostics, hyperpolarization is a truly interdisciplinary research area with all the benefits and pitfalls that come along.

Hyperpolarization is an emerging technique that paves the way for entirely new applications of MRI for instance, by making it sensitive to dynamic metabolic and functional imaging in real-time, which is very promising for research and diagnostics of cancer, ischemia and neurodegenerative diseases. The hyperpolarization group in Freiburg is focused on the development of new hyperpolarization methods and bringing these advances to biomedical application.

Please follow the links to find more information about our group and our research:

Dr. Andreas B. Schmidt
Head of Hyperpolarization

Medical Physics
Department of Radiology
University Medical Center Freiburg

Killianstr. 5a
79106  Freiburg

Tel.: +49 761 270-93911