A Florida State University researcher is involved in a research project that could lead to ways to sharpen MRI images. The work involves uncovering unique properties in a molecular magnet — properties that could add to the resolution of MRIs, according to a FSU release.
“There are continual efforts to enhance the level of image clarity found in today’s MRI devices,” said Naresh Dalal, the Dirac Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at FSU. “MRIs utilize injectable dyes, but those in current use, while easy to manufacture, offer a relatively low contrast. Our experiments show that a class of materials known as single-molecule magnets might produce greater contrast in medical imaging, meaning MRIs would be much more accurate.”
The researchers were able to synthesize a substance known as Fe8, a very strong magnet.
“Fe8 is a molecule made up of eight iron ions that form a tight molecular bond,” Dalal said. “It has a powerful magnetic field, which is obviously important in generating a very clear image with an MRI device. What’s more, Fe8 is non-toxic and water-soluble, making it safe for injection into the body.”
Dalal said that some hurdles remain before Fe8 becomes a viable MRI option. “These compounds are not very stable,” he said. “They break down in water within a few hours. We’re now looking at ways to increase their stability so that they can be stored for long periods of time and transported easily.”
The researchers have published a paper, “Efficacy of the Single-Molecule Magnet Fe8 for Magnetic Resonance Imaging Contrast Agent Over a Broad Range of Concentration,” that was published in the current issue of Polyhedron, a peer-reviewed science journal.
Additional information is available here: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2007_0201.htm#magnets.