Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a technique based on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and is able to produce 1D profiles or 2D and 3D images. The technique is non-invasive, can probe optically opaque objects and is able to provide a wealth of chemical and physical information.

MRI relies on the application of magnetic field gradients, allowing nuclei (typically 1H) to be spatially located via their frequency, which is dependent on their position. Image contrast is produced through differences in the density of nuclei within a pixel or the relaxation time of the nuclei (which is sensitive to molecular mobility and chemical composition). It is also possible to directly measure flow velocities and diffusion co-efficients.

The School of Chemistry houses a Bruker DMX-300 widebore MR micro-imaging system, operating at a proton resonance frequency of 300 MHz. This instrument is maintained by the research group of Dr Melanie Britton, who is developing methodologies for applying MRI for the visualisation of chemical composition and processes in a variety of applications.

Areas of particular interest include understanding the coupling between chemistry and flow, the visualisation of chemical patterns and imaging of composition and transport behaviour in electrolyte solutions. Final-year undergraduate projects are available for students interested in learning more about this technique.