Hirsch, M.L., et al., Transport and imaging of brute-force (13)C hyperpolarization. J Magn Reson, 2015. 261: p. 87-94.
We demonstrate transport of hyperpolarized frozen 1-(13)C pyruvic acid from its site of production to a nearby facility, where a time series of (13)C images was acquired from the aqueous dissolution product. Transportability is tied to the hyperpolarization (HP) method we employ, which omits radical electron species used in other approaches that would otherwise relax away the HP before reaching the imaging center. In particular, we attained (13)C HP by ‘brute-force’, i.e., using only low temperature and high-field (e.g., T< approximately 2K and B approximately 14T) to pre-polarize protons to a large Boltzmann value ( approximately 0.4% (1)H polarization). After polarizing the neat, frozen sample, ejection quickly (<1s) passed it through a low field (B<100G) to establish the (1)H pre-polarization spin temperature on (13)C via the process known as low-field thermal mixing (yielding approximately 0.1% (13)C polarization). By avoiding polarization agents (a.k.a. relaxation agents) that are needed to hyperpolarize by the competing method of dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization (d-DNP), the (13)C relaxation time was sufficient to transport the sample for approximately 10min before finally dissolving in warm water and obtaining a (13)C image of the hyperpolarized, dilute, aqueous product ( approximately 0.01% (13)C polarization, a >100-fold gain over thermal signals in the 1T scanner). An annealing step, prior to polarizing the sample, was also key for increasing T1 approximately 30-fold during transport. In that time, HP was maintained using only modest cryogenics and field (T approximately 60K and B=1.3T), for T1((13)C) near 5min. Much greater time and distance (with much smaller losses) may be covered using more-complete annealing and only slight improvements on transport conditions (e.g., yielding T1 approximately 5h at 30K, 2T), whereas even intercity transfer is possible (T1>20h) at reasonable conditions of 6K and 2T. Finally, it is possible to increase the overall enhancement near d-DNP levels (i.e., 10(2)-fold more) by polarizing below 100mK, where nanoparticle agents are known to hasten T1 buildup by 100-fold, and to yield very little impact on T1 losses at temperatures relevant to transport.