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An Inexpensive Laboratory Module To Demonstrate Principles Of Nmr And Mri

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

BME Technical Modules and Laboratories

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.177.1 - 10.177.10



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Paper Authors

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Alan Sahakian

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Inexpensive Laboratory Module to Teach Principles of NMR/MRI

Alan V. Sahakian1, Christopher Hayes1, Bugrahan Yalvac2 Biomedical Engineering Department1 and School of Education and Social Policy2 Northwestern University


We report the details of, and our experience with, a relatively simple and inexpensive teaching laboratory apparatus which demonstrates some of the basic physical phenomena and principles of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Our approach uses two 2x2x1 inch Neodymium Iron Boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets in the 0.6 T range, and large cylindrical (5 inch diameter, one inch thick) field- spreading pole pieces made of soft steel, along with a one-half-inch-thick walled soft- steel enclosure. This design trades away field strength for uniformity in order to get a large enough volume (at least a 1 cm cube) of highly-uniform 0.08 T in which the NMR phenomenon is easily observed.

While others have demonstrated and/or market more complex and elegant benchtop NMR or MRI systems generally costing several thousands of dollars (e.g. TeachSpin®), our goal was to create a simple tool which would be inexpensive enough so that there could be one per lab bench in an imaging course. The magnetic field is also well contained in this design, and not strong enough to represent a significant hazard or nuisance. The component cost (including magnets) for this system is approximately $400 and it can demonstrate Free Induction Decay and Spin Echo. The sample used can be a small container of glycerin. It is assumed that an oscilloscope and a bench power supply are available.

This module is was used in the form of a lecture demonstration of the Spin Echo experiment in the Northwestern University Biomedical Engineering course BME 325, Introduction to Medical Imaging, during the Fall 2004 quarter. This course includes undergraduate and graduate students from both ECE and BME majors. We report our experiences and a formal evaluation of the effectiveness of the module.

This work was supported in part by the Engineering Research Centers Program of the National Science Foundation under Award Number EEC-9876363.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the most important medical imaging modalities, yet it is also the least intuitive. Other modalities, such as x-ray, ultrasound, radionuclide methods are relatively easy to visualize, even in tomographic forms. MRI,

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Sahakian, A. (2005, June), An Inexpensive Laboratory Module To Demonstrate Principles Of Nmr And Mri Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14731

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