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Turning magnetic resonance inside out

People undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans must remain within the coils of the scanner's electromagnet. Otherwise, the patient isn't in a magnetic field uniform enough to give a good image. Unfortunately, patients often find this situation uncomfortable.

Maybe there's a better way, say Carlos A. Meriles, Alexander Pines, and their colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley.

These researchers have developed a means for recovering useful magnetic resonance signals from materials within a nonuniform magnetic field. The method, described in the July 6 Science, may benefit both medical imaging and the widely used chemical-analysis technique known as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, Meriles says.

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