1H NMR Detection of superparamagnetic nanoparticles at 1 T using a microcoil and novel tuning circuit

Laurel O. Sillerud, Andrew F. McDowell, Natalie L. Adolphi, Rita E. Serda, David P. Adams, Michael J. Vasile, Todd M. Alam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Magnetic beads containing superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) have been shown to measurably change the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxation properties of nearby protons in aqueous solution at distances up to ∼50 μm. Therefore, the NMR sensitivity for the in vitro detection of single cells or biomolecules labeled with magnetic beads will be maximized with microcoils of this dimension. We have constructed a prototype 550 μm diameter solenoidal microcoil using focused gallium ion milling of a gold/chromium layer. The NMR coil was brought to resonance by means of a novel auxiliary tuning circuit, and used to detect water with a spectral resolution of 2.5 Hz in a 1.04 T (44.2 MHz) permanent magnet. The single-scan SNR for water was 137, for a 200 μs π/2 pulse produced with an RF power of 0.25 mW. The nutation performance of the microcoil was sufficiently good so that the effects of magnetic beads on the relaxation characteristics of the surrounding water could be accurately measured. A solution of magnetic beads (Dynabeads MyOne Streptavidin) in deionized water at a concentration of 1000 beads per nL lowered the T1 from 1.0 to 0.64 s and the T2 * from 110 to 0.91 ms. Lower concentrations (100 and 10 beads/nL) also resulted in measurable reductions in T2 *, suggesting that low-field, microcoil NMR detection using permanent magnets can serve as a high-sensitivity, miniaturizable detection mechanism for very low concentrations of magnetic beads in biological fluids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Focused ion beam
  • Microcoil
  • NMR
  • Permanent magnet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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