Birchall, Jonathan R., Panayiotis Nikolaou, Robert K. Irwin, Michael J. Barlow, Kaili Ranta, Aaron M. Coffey, Boyd M. Goodson, et al. “Helium-Rich Mixtures for Improved Batch-Mode Clinical-Scale Spin-Exchange Optical Pumping of Xenon-129.” Journal of Magnetic Resonance 315 (June 2020): 106739.
We present studies of spin-exchange optical pumping (SEOP) using ternary xenon-nitrogen-helium gas mixtures at high xenon partial pressures (up to 1330 Torr partial pressure at loading, out of 2660 Torr total pressure) in a 500-mL volume SEOP cell, using two automated batch-mode clinical-scale 129Xe hyperpolarizers operating under continuous high-power (~170 W) pump laser irradiation. In this pilot study, we explore SEOP in gas mixtures with up to 45% 4He content under a wide range of experimental conditions. When an aluminum jacket cooling/heating design was employed (GEN-3 hyperpolarizer), 129Xe polarization (%PXe) of 55.9 ± 0.9% was observed with mono-exponential build-up rate cSEOP of 0.049 ± 0.001 minÀ1 for the 4He-rich mixture (1000 Torr Xe/900 Torr He, 100 Torr N2), compared to % PXe of 49.3 ± 3.3% at cSEOP of 0.035 ± 0.004 minÀ1 for the N2-rich gas mixture (1000 Torr Xe/100 Torr He, 900 Torr N2). When forced-air cooling/heating was used (GEN-2 hyperpolarizer), %PXe of 83.9 ± 2.7% was observed at cSEOP of 0.045 ± 0.005 minÀ1 for the 4He-rich mixture (1000 Torr Xe/900 Torr He, 100 Torr N2), compared to %PXe of 73.5 ± 1.3% at cSEOP of 0.028 ± 0.001 minÀ1 for the N2-rich gas mixture (1000 Torr Xe and 1000 Torr N2). Additionally, %PXe of 72.6 ± 1.4% was observed at a build-up rate cSEOP of 0.041 ± 0.003 minÀ1 for a super-high-density 4He-rich mixture (1330 Torr Xe/1200 Torr 4He/130 Torr N2), compared to %PXe = 56.6 ± 1.3% at a build-up rate of cSEOP of 0.034 ± 0. 002 minÀ1 for an N2-rich mixture (1330 Torr Xe/1330 Torr N2) using forced air cooling/heating. The observed SEOP hyperpolarization performance under these conditions corresponds to %PXe improvement by a factor of 1.14 ± 0.04 at 1000 Torr Xe density and by up to a factor of 1.28 ± 0.04 at 1330 Torr Xe density at improved SEOP build-up rates by factors of 1.61 ± 0.18 and 1.21 ± 0.11 respectively. Record %PXe levels have been obtained here: 83.9 ± 2.7% at 1000 Torr Xe partial pressure and 72.6 ± 1.4% at 1330 Torr Xe partial pressure. In addition to improved thermal stability for SEOP, the use of 4He-rich gas mixtures also reduces the overall density of produced inhalable HP contrast agents; this property may be desirable for HP 129Xe inhalation by human subjects in clinical settings—especially in populations with heavily impaired lung function. The described approach should enjoy ready application in the production of inhalable 129Xe contrast agent with near-unity 129Xe nuclear spin polarization.