Date of Award

Spring 2005

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

F W Hersman


Hyperpolarized 3He and 129Xe were initially developed and used in the nuclear physics community. Lately they are primarily used in Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI). Although first MRI polarized gas images were acquired using 129Xe, the research community has focused mostly on 3He, due to the well-known polarizing methods and higher polarization numbers achieved.

The main purpose of this thesis is to present a novel design of a large-scale SEOP polarizer for producing large quantities of highly polarized 129Xe. High Rb-Xe spin-exchange rates through long-lived van de Waals molecules at low total pressure, implemented in a novel counterflow polarizer design, resulted in xenon polarization as high as 50% for 1.2 liters/hour, with a maximum of 64% for 0.3 l/h. We characterized and improved the polarization process by finding the optimum operating parameters of the polarizer.

Two new methods to efficiently use high-power diode lasers are described: a new optical arrangement for a better beam shaping of fiber coupled lasers and the first external-cavity spectrum narrowing of a stack of laser diode arrays.

A new accumulation technique for the hyperpolarized xenon was developed and full recovery of polarization after a freeze-thaw cycle was demonstrated for the first time. Two approaches for xenon delivery, frozen and gas states, were developed. Hyperpolarized xenon transportation to Brigham and Women's Hospital was successfully accomplished for collaborative research. First MRI images using hyperpolarized xenon acquired at BWH are presented.

Final chapter is focused on describing a low field human MRI scanner using hyperpolarized 3He. We built a human scale imager with open access for orientational studies of the lung functionality. Horizontal and vertical human lung images were acquired as a first stage of this project.