NMR imaging of thermally polarized helium-3 gas

J Magn Reson. 1999 Jun;138(2):308-12. doi: 10.1006/jmre.1999.1756.


It is shown that thermally polarized 3He gas can be used to measure important physical parameters and to design, test, and tune imaging sequences. The bulk values of T1, T2, and the diffusion coefficient were measured in a glass cell containing a mixture of helium-3 (0.8 bar) and oxygen (0.2 bar). They were found to be T1 = 7 s, T2 = 2.4 s, and D = 1.6 cm2 s(-1). The relaxation times T2* and T1 and the apparent diffusion coefficient of thermally polarized helium-3 gas were measured in the rat lung, and these parameters were used to design a helium-3 optimized multi-spin-echo sequence which was shown to increase the signal-to-noise ratio sufficiently to obtain the first NMR-images of thermally polarized helium-3 in the rat lung.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diffusion
  • Helium*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Isotopes
  • Lung / anatomy & histology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Oxygen
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Rats
  • Thermodynamics


  • Isotopes
  • Helium
  • Oxygen