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B. A New Generation of Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Narrator: This is Science Today. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a powerful imaging tool that allows doctors to see inside the human body, but the size of what can be seen is limited. Now researchers at the University of California have developed a new generation of MRI, called remote detection, which improves the sensitivity of traditional MRI. Alexander Pines, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says the process works because it uses xenon gas to encode or "remember" the molecules it comes into contact with - even after the gas is removed.

Pines: We use a noble gas, typically xenon in our case that goes into the object or subject and acts as a kind of spy of the surroundings. You can pull out that noble gas, detect is subsequently with very sensitive detectors and reconstruct the image. Because of the enhanced sensitivity afforded by this remote detection, one can imagine going down to very small objects or subjects or very dilute concentrations.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.