Hirsch, M.L., et al., Brute-Force Hyperpolarization for NMR and MRI. J Am Chem Soc, 2015. 137(26): p. 8428-34.
Hyperpolarization (HP) of nuclear spins is critical for ultrasensitive nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We demonstrate an approach for >1500-fold enhancement of key small-molecule metabolites: 1-(13)C-pyruvic acid, 1-(13)C-sodium lactate, and 1-(13)C-acetic acid. The (13)C solution NMR signal of pyruvic acid was enhanced 1600-fold at B = 1 T and 40 degrees C by pre-polarizing at 14 T and approximately 2.3 K. This "brute-force" approach uses only field and temperature to generate HP. The noted 1 T observation field is appropriate for benchtop NMR and near the typical 1.5 T of MRI, whereas high-field observation scales enhancement as 1/B. Our brute-force process ejects the frozen, solid sample from the low-T, high-B polarizer, passing it through low field (B < 100 G) to facilitate "thermal mixing". That equilibrates (1)H and (13)C in hundreds of milliseconds, providing (13)C HP from (1)H Boltzmann polarization attained at high B/T. The ejected sample arrives at a room-temperature, permanent magnet array, where rapid dissolution with 40 degrees C water yields HP solute. Transfer to a 1 T NMR system yields (13)C signals with enhancements at 80% of ideal for noted polarizing conditions. High-resolution NMR of the same product at 9.4 T had consistent enhancement plus resolution of (13)C shifts and J-couplings for pyruvic acid and its hydrate. Comparable HP was achieved with frozen aqueous lactate, plus notable enhancement of acetic acid, demonstrating broader applicability for small-molecule NMR and metabolic MRI. Brute-force avoids co-solvated free-radicals and microwaves that are essential to competing methods. Here, unadulterated samples obviate concerns about downstream purity and also exhibit slow solid-state spin relaxation, favorable for transporting HP samples.