Bastiaan Driehuys, Joseph Henry Laboratories, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.
In its present form, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) produces images by mapping the hydrogen nuclei in the tissues of the body. A new implementation of MRI using laser-polarized noble gases has recently been demonstrated wherein lasers are used to enhance the MR signal from noble gases such as3He and 129Xe, making them easily observable in a conventional MRI scanner. Initial experiments have yielded spectacular MR images of the lungs of laboratory animals, and recently, images of human lungs. This technology should provide functional information that may be important in evaluating and treating a wide range of respiratory problems such as emphysema and asthma.
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