Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Medical Biophysics

Supervisor

Professor Ravi Menon, Ph.D.

Abstract

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an indispensable, non-invasive diagnostic tool for the assessment of disease and function. As an investigational device, MRI has found routine use in both basic science research and medicine for both human and non-human subjects.

Due to the potential increase in spatial resolution, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and the ability to exploit novel tissue contrasts, the main magnetic field strength of human MRI scanners has steadily increased since inception. Beginning in the early 1980’s, 0.15 T human MRI scanners have steadily risen in main magnetic field strength with ultra-high field (UHF) 8 T MRI systems deemed to be insignificant risk by the FDA (as of 2016). However, at UHF the electromagnetic fields describing the collective behaviour of spin dynamics in human tissue assume ‘wave-like’ behaviour due to an increase in the processional frequency of nuclei at UHF. At these frequencies, the electromagnetic interactions transition from purely near-field interactions to a mixture of near- and far-field mechanisms. Due to this, the transmission field at UHF can produce areas of localized power deposition – leading to tissue heating – as well as tissue-independent contrast in the reconstructed images. Correcting for these difficulties is typically achieved via multi-channel radio-frequency (RF) arrays. This technology allows multiple transmitting elements to synthesize a more uniform field that can selectively minimize areas of local power deposition and remove transmission field weighting from the final reconstructed image. This thesis provides several advancements in the design and construction of these arrays.

First, in Chapter 2 a general framework for modeling the electromagnetic interactions occurring inside an RF array is adopted from multiply-coupled waveguide filters and applied to a subset of decoupling problems encountered when constructing RF arrays. It is demonstrated that using classic filter synthesis, RF arrays of arbitrary size and geometry can be decoupled via coupling matrix synthesis.

Secondly, in Chapters 3 and 4 this framework is extended for designing distributed filters for simple decoupling of RF arrays and removing the iterative tuning portion of utilizing decoupling circuits when constructing RF arrays.

Lastly, in Chapter 5 the coupling matrix synthesis framework is applied to the construction of a conformal transmit/receive RF array that is shape optimized to minimize power deposition in the human head during any routine MRI examination.