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Building RF Surface Coils for MRI

Jolle Barral

If it is improperly displayed, you can download this pdf version. Introduction SNR Calculation B1 Field of a Circular Loop Why do we use Parallel Resonance? RLC Basics EM Basics Tuning Design Choices Quality Factor On the Scanner SAR Constants and Parameters Tips Glossary References

Introduction
The purpose of this page is to provide some practical guidance to build simple RF surface coils for MRI. [Haase00] is an excellent review article. [Mispelter06] and [Doty07] provide additional information. It is easy to build a bad coil (you may have heard of the "hanger theorem"). Hopefully this page will help you build a good one! Please send me your feedback: jbarral AT stanford DOT edu.

SNR Calculation
The signal voltage is the emf induced in a coil (Faraday's law): ! = -"#/"t -"(B1.M0)/"t, where# is the magnetic ux across the coil (closed loop) [Hoult79]. The magnetization can be written as M0 = N\$2(h/(2%))2s(s+1)B0/(3kBTS) = &0B0/'0, where N is the number of nuclear spins s per unit volume (s = 1/2 for protons) and Ts is the temperature of the sample. Since (0 = \$B0, !(02.

The noise is thermal (Fluctuation dissipation theorem): v = (4kBTSR*f)1/2, where R is the total resistance and *f is the bandwidth of the received signal. The Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) can then be computed as !/v.

B1 Field of a Circular Loop

We want to use surface coils to increase the SNR by reducing the noise volume: the non-uniformity of the image intensity is the price to pay! From the reciprocity principle [Hoult76], the transmit B1 eld is also the coil sensitivity. B1 in free space can always be computed using Biot-Savart law. However, in general, there is no analytical solution, and numerical integration is needed.

On axis
A circular loop of radius a carrying a current I produces along its axis the eld: B = ! 0 I a2/[2(a2+z2)3/2] z ([Inan99], p. 457).

Off axis
Bessel functions and elliptical integrals are needed ([Smythe89], p. 291).

Why do we use Parallel Resonance?

The noise factor F of the preamplier (dened as the ratio of the SNR at the input divided by the SNR at the output) is minimized when the source impedance is 50 Parallel Resonant ). 50 ) source impedance is easy to achieve with a parallel tuned circuit. Probe Circuit: the Therefore we use parallel resonance [Cowan97]. purpose is to present 50 ) RLC Basics impedance to the preamplier. If you forgot everything from undergrad, here is what you need (more on RLC circuits): Frequency: f = ( /(2%). Wavelength: + = c/f. + = 4.7 m at 1.5 T. Larmor frequency: f0= \$ B0/(2%). \$/(2%) = 42.58 MHz/T; at 1.5 T, f0 = 63.87 MHz; at 3 T, f0 = 127.73 MHz; at 7 T, f0 = 298.06 MHz. Resonance happens at (res such that LC (res2 = 1 Capacitors (impedance 1/(jC()) in parallel add. Inductors (impedance jL() in series add.

EM Basics
The inductance of a coil is determined by its geometry. Analytical expressions are computed based on Biot-Savart law and the denition of inductance (# = Li) [Terman43, Grover46]. Square If a is the side length and f the wire diameter: L = ['0/%] [-4a + 2a ,2 - 2a log(1+,2) + 2a log(4a/f)]. Loop If d is the loop diameter and f the wire diameter: L = ['0d/2] [log(8d/f) - 2]. Solenoid If r is the solenoid radius, l its length, and N the number of turns: L = ['0r2N2%/l] [1 - 8r/(3%l)]. The resistance of a coil is also determined by its geometry. The resistance R of a conductor of length l and cross-sectional area A is R = -l/A, where - is the conductor resistivity and is a property of the conductor material and the temperature. Copper wire If d is the loop diameter and f the wire diameter: R = d-Cu/(f.Cu). As the wire diameter should scale with the coil diameter to avoid proximity effects, the coil resistance should not depend on the coil size (in practice it often does). Copper foil If d is the loop diameter, t the copper thickness (>> copper skin depth), and w the copper width (>> t): R = %d-Cu/(2w.Cu). Note that the resistance of a coil also depends on the components added, the soldering, etc... The resistance of a sample is much harder to determine. Here are some examples found in the literature (see references for assumptions). Loop If h is the coil-to-sample lift-off, r the loop radius, and N the number of turns: R = [2/(3%)] [<'02N2(2&Sampler3 atan(%r/(8h))] [Suits98]. Loop If r is the loop radius: R = 0.0332 &Sample ((0'0%)2 r 3 [Harpen87]. Solenoid If 2a is the coil diameter, 2g the coil length, N the number of turns, and b the sample size: R = % (02 '02N2b5&Sample/[30 (a2+g2)] [Hoult79].

Tuning

1-inch-diameter Second tuning step for a First tuning step: we receive-only coil for 1.5 1-inch-diameter receive-only coil want 50 ) resistance transmit/receive coil for T or 3 T (loop split with (Q-spoiling circuit): we at the resonant two capacitors). 1.5 T or 3 T (loop split want the peak precisely frequency (not with two capacitors). at the resonant necessarily at the frequency. peak).

Network Analyzer
I use a HP 3589A network analyzer and a HP 35689A S-parameter test set to tune coils for 1.5 T and 3 T, looking at F1. At 7 T I use an Agilent E5071C network analyzer looking either at the Smith chart or at F1. F1 is dened as 50*(1+S11)/(1-S11), which is the unknown coil impedance ZL. Indeed S11 = / = (ZL- Z0)/( ZL+ Z0), where Z0 is the reference impedance (50 )) [Inan99].

Tuning and Matching

Tuning means adjusting the inner capacitor (between C-D) such that the resistance is 50 ). Matching means compensating with a capacitor (between C-E or G-E) such that the reactance is 0. When tuning, the impedance is Z = R + jX = 1/(1/(r+jL()+jC().

We call (0 the desired tuning frequency, e.g., 63.87 MHz at 1.5 T. The size of the coil allows us to compute a rst estimate of the inductance L (cf. EM Basics). From L, we infer the values of the capacitors such that the resonant peak is at the right of (0 (this is Parallel resonance (Q = 300, L = 50 nH). R at 63.87 MHz because the reactance will then be positive at (0, and we will be able to is 60 ) when the resonant peak is at 65 MHz (C = 120 cancel it with a matching capacitor). Here we have two capacitors pF).). between A-B and C-D, but there can be more (cf. Design Choices). Having those two capacitors soldered, we look at the resonant peak, and deduce the true L. We then adjust the values of the capacitors to make sure that the resistance at (0 is 50 ). Once the resistance at (0 is close to 50 ) (say between 40 and 60 )), we compute the value C of the third capacitor (between C-E) to cancel the reactance X (C = 1/(X(0)).

A Q-spoiling circuit is added such that the receive-only loop does not resonate during transmit, which would distort B1. When the PIN diode is biased, the Q-spoiling circuit resonates and presents a high

impedance to the loop where the current is therefore limited. The rst tuning step is the same as in the transmit/receive case. Since we will unsolder the outside capacitor for the second tuning step, the purpose is just to choose a value for the inside capacitor that is compatible with 50 ) resistance later on. In the second tuning step we want to make the Q-spoiling circuit resonate at precisely the desired tuning frequency. The diode needs to be biased, e.g., by a current control power supply (0.2 mA, 1 to 2 V). In our design, the Q-spoiling circuit is moved away from the main loop by a short transmission line made of semi-rigid coax cable. The Q-spoiling circuit is also as small as possible. This is to avoid hot spots in the region-of-interest (ROI). The inductor is a magnet wire: its length and the number of turns can be adjusted. At 7 T, if the inductance of the transmission line already exceeds what is needed, a capacitor can be used instead of the inductor to tune the circuit. The third and fourth steps consist in making sure that we have 50 ) resistance and 0 reactance at the output (similar to what is done for a transmit/receive coil). The additional inductor between G-E is a choke which allows the diode to be switched during transmit.

Design Choices
Foil vs. Wire
1-inch-diameter coils have a higher Q when built with copper wire rather than with copper foil. This is because the width of the copper foil is kept small to avoid proximity effects. Copper wire coils are harder to build though (soldering, tuning). When we use a circuit board, the coil shape is etched with a le. Doing so, we preserve a common support, which makes soldering and tuning easier. If you use copper foil, make sure its thickness is at least 10 times the copper skin depth (8.3 'm at 64 MHz).

Number of Capacitors
Splitting the coil with capacitors help reduce radiation and electric losses: Radiation losses occur when coil elements behave as transmission lines: phase shifts of current along the wire increase and destructive interferences decrease the peak value of the transmit magnetic eld B1. Such radiation losses become signicant as conductor lengths exceed +/20 to +/10 - where + is the wavelength in the air [Chen89]. Dielectric losses are dictated by Maxwell equations. Splitting the coil with capacitors prevent the eld from penetrating into the large sample volume. A shift of the resonant peak upon loading indicates signicant electric losses. Since the electric eld decays rapidly with distance, a lift-off from the coil to the sample may be enough to prevent this electric eld from adding dielectric losses. A trade-off has to be found: if the number of segments is unnecessarily increased, the resistance of the probe may increase due to the capacitors and the soldering connections. We typically use two capacitors per 1-inch-diameter loop at 1.5 T and 3 T, and four capacitors per 1-inch-diameter loop at 7

T. The total capacitance is distributed equally between the different capacitors.

Quality Factor
A transmit/receive coil is a good coil if it is properly tuned and matched. A receive-only coil is a good coil if it is properly tuned and matched and if the Q-spoiling circuit is properly tuned. The quality factor ratio (Qratio) only tells that SNR can be further increased if body noise dominance is not achieved. However, decreasing the coil resistance might not be feasible (unless cooling the coil, for example). The quality factor Q is the ratio of the peak magnetic energy stored by the coil divided by the average energy dissipated per radian by the coil. Equivalently, it can be seen as the ratio of the reactive impedance divided by the resistive impedance. Q = (0L/R. Q can be measured as (0/(2*(). (0 is the frequency at the peak, and 2*( is the Full Width at Half Maximum (FWHM) [Inan99, p. 218]. Indeed (for a series RLC circuit - the proof for a parallel RLC circuit is similar), we have Z(() = R + j L ( + 1/(j C (). Then, Z((0+*() = R(1+2jQ*(/(0). Since |Z(-3dB)| = |Z((0)|,2= R,2, 2jQ*(/(0 = 1 and Q = (0/(2*(). Qloaded and Qunloaded are measured and Qratio is computed to check if body noise dominates (i.e., Qratio < 50%). Coil resistance scales with the diameter of the coil, sample resistance scales with the diameter of the coil to some power greater than 1 (cf. EM Basics): when the coil gets smaller, body noise dominance is harder to achieve. Coil resistance scales with the square root of the eld strength, sample resistance scales with the square of the eld strength: it is easier to get body noise dominance at higher eld strengths. Below are the coil quality factors of the coils we built. It gives an estimate of what you can expect. All coils are circular, unless otherwise mentioned (dimension is diameter for a loop, side length for a square). A square of side 2 ,2 d/% is equivalent (in terms of eld penetration) to a loop of diameter d [Mispelter06, p.452]. We typically use 12 AWG (2 mm) copper wire, and PC 96 copper board (PCB copper clad 1 side, 1 oz thickness of copper, 0.014 oz thickness of epoxy glass board). Coil dimension [in] 0.5 1 1 Field strength [T] 7 1.5 1.5 Qratio = Qloaded / Qunloaded 39 61 70

Type Material Rc Rc Rc copper board copper board copper board

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 (square)

Rc

copper board

1.5 1.5

129 116 185 92 112 26 64 114

70 68 61 46 30 24 20 28

Tx/Rc copper wire 7 Rc copper wire 1.5

On the Scanner
The way you add a new coil on the scanner depends on the manufacturer. It is important to make sure that the dynamic range of the reconstructed images is properly adjusted. To control the quality of a coil, or compare different coils, we use a loading phantom and standard multi-slice T1-weighted and T2-weighted sequences. The SNR (mean signal in a signal ROI divided by standard deviation of noise in a background ROI) and the uniformity (100-100*(max signal - min signal)/(max signal + min signal)) can be computed. However, there is no point computing the uniformity for a surface coil!

SAR Calculation
SAR can be estimated as SAR &Sample/(2-dty) E2(1-Qratio) [W/kg], where E is the electric eld. This does not give you an absolute value for SAR but it is useful to do comparisons between coils of different diameters and/or at different eld strengths.

Constants and Parameters

Boltzmann constant: kB= 1.3806503 10-23 m2 kg s-2 K-1. Planck constant: h = 6.626068 10-34 m2 kg/s. Permeability of free space: '0= 4 % 10-7 H/m (or N/A2). Nuclear magnetic susceptibility of water at 37C (paramagnetism that we image): 00=3.8 10-9 = 4 ppb. Bulk magnetic susceptibility of water at 37C (bulk diamagnetism that causes susceptibility artifacts):

0bulk=-9.05 10-6 = -9 ppm. Resistivity of copper at 20C: -Cu = 1.69 10-8 )m. Skin depth: .Cu = (2-Cu/('0 ())1/2. Conductivity of muscle tissue at 64 MHz: &Sample = 0.71 S/m. Density of tissue: -dty= 0.9 kg/dm3. Dielectric properties of biological tissues can be found here.

Glossary
Chokes
Chokes are used to block AC while passing DC. Common-mode chokes prevent interferences (they are also called cable-traps or, at high frequencies, baluns).

PIN diodes
When forward-biased, a PIN diode is equivalent to a resistance of about 0.1 ) (roughly a shortcircuit). When reverse-biased, a PIN diode is equivalent to a high resistance (200 k)) in parallel with a low capacitance (5 pF) (roughly an open-circuit).

References
[Chen89] Biomedical magnetic resonance technology. C.N. Chen and D.I. Hoult (1989) [Cowan97] Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Relaxation. Brian Cowan (1997) [Doty07] Radio frequency coil technology for small-animal MRI. Doty, DD et al, NMR Biomed 20:304-325 (2007) [Grover46] Inductance Calculations. Working Formulas and Tables. Frederick W. Grover (1946) [Harpen87] Sample noise with circular surface coils. Harpen, MD, Med Phys 14: 616-618 (1987) [Haase00] NMR Probeheads for In Vivo Applications. Haase, A et al, Concepts in Magnetic Resonance 12:361-388 (2000) [Hoult76] The signal-to-noise ratio of the nuclear magnetic resonance experiment. JMR 24:71-85 (1976) [Hoult79] The sensitivity of the zeugmatographic experiment involving human samples. Hoult, DI and Lauterbur, PC, JMR 34:425-433 (1979) [Inan99] Engineering Electromagnetics. Umran S. Inan and Aziz S. Inan (1999) [Mispelter06] NMR Probeheads: For Biophysical and Biomedical Experiments. Mihaela Lupu, Andre Briguet, and Joel Mispelter (2006) [Smythe89] Static and Dynamic Electricity William R. Smythe (1989) [Suits98] Surface and gradiometer coils near a conducting body: the lift-off effects. Suits, BH et al, JMR 135:373-379 (1998)

[Terman43] Radio-engineers' Handbook. Frederick E. Terman (1943)

Jolle Barral (jbarral AT stanford Last Updated June 30, 2009
DOT edu)