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MRM Microcoil Performance Calibration and Usage Demonstrated on Medicago truncatula Roots at 22 T

Remco van Schadewijk1, Julia R. Krug2,3,4, Andrew Webb5, Henk Van As2,4, Aldrik H. Velders3,4, Huub J. M. de Groot1, A. Alia1,6


This protocol describes a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) calibration and sample preparation method for solenoidal microcoils combined with biological samples, designed for high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), also referred to as MR microscopy (MRM). It may be used at pre-clinical MRI spectrometers, demonstrated on Medicago truncatula root samples. Microcoils increase sensitivity by matching the size of the RF resonator to the size of the sample of interest, thereby enabling higher image resolutions in a given data acquisition time. Due to the relatively simple design, solenoidal microcoils are straightforward and cheap to construct and can be easily adapted to the sample requirements. Systematically, we explain how to calibrate new or home-built microcoils, using a reference solution. The calibration steps include: pulse power determination using a nutation curve; estimation of RF-field homogeneity; and calculating a volume-normalized signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) using standard pulse sequences. Important steps in sample preparation for small biological samples are discussed, as well as possible mitigating factors such as magnetic susceptibility differences. The applications of an optimized solenoid coil are demonstrated by high-resolution (13 x 13 x 13 μm3, 2.2 pL) 3D imaging of a root sample.

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