An inexpensive laboratory module to teach principles of NMR/MRI

Alan V. Sahakian, Christopher Hayes, Bugrahan Yalvac

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We report the details of, and our experience with, a relatively simple and inexpensive teaching laboratory apparatus which demonstrates some of the basic physical phenomena and principles of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Our approach uses two 2×2×1 inch Neodymium Iron Boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets in the 0.6 T range, and large cylindrical (5 inch diameter, one inch thick) field-spreading pole pieces made of soft steel, along with a one-half-inch-thick walled soft-steel enclosure. This design trades away field strength for uniformity in order to get a large enough volume (at least a 1 cm cube) of highly-uniform 0.08 T in which the NMR phenomenon is easily observed. While others have demonstrated and/or market more complex and elegant benchtop NMR or MRI systems generally costing several thousands of dollars (e.g. TeachSpin®), our goal was to create a simple tool which would be inexpensive enough so that there could be one per lab bench in an imaging course. The magnetic field is also well contained in this design, and not strong enough to represent a significant hazard or nuisance. The component cost (including magnets) for this system is approximately $400 and it can demonstrate Free Induction Decay and Spin Echo. The sample used can be a small container of glycerin. It is assumed that an oscilloscope and a bench power supply are available. This module is was used in the form of a lecture demonstration of the Spin Echo experiment in the Northwestern University Biomedical Engineering course BME 325, Introduction to Medical Imaging, during the Fall 2004 quarter. This course includes undergraduate and graduate students from both ECE and BME majors. We report our experiences and a formal evaluation of the effectiveness of the module.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8007-8016
Number of pages10
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005
Event2005 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: The Changing Landscape of Engineering and Technology Education in a Global World - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Jun 12 2005Jun 15 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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