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An optimized microfabricated platform for the optical generation and detection of hyperpolarized 129Xe

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Low thermal-equilibrium nuclear spin polarizations and the need for sophisticated instrumentation render conventional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and imaging (MRI) incompatible with small-scale microfluidic devices. Hyperpolarized 129Xe gas has found use in the study of many materials but has required very large and expensive instrumentation. Recently a microfabricated device with modest instrumentation demonstrated all-optical hyperpolarization and detection of 129Xe gas. This device was limited by 129Xe polarizations less than 1%, 129Xe NMR signals smaller than 20 nT, and transport of hyperpolarized 129Xe over millimeter lengths. Higher polarizations, versatile detection schemes, and flow of 129Xe over larger distances are desirable for wider applications. Here we demonstrate an ultra-sensitive microfabricated platform that achieves 129Xe polarizations reaching 7%, NMR signals exceeding 1 μT, lifetimes up to 6 s, and simultaneous two-mode detection, consisting of a high-sensitivity in situ channel with signal-to-noise of 105 and a lower-sensitivity ex situ detection channel which may be useful in a wider variety of conditions. 129Xe is hyperpolarized and detected in locations more than 1 cm apart. Our versatile device is an optimal platform for microfluidic magnetic resonance in particular, but equally attractive for wider nuclear spin applications benefitting from ultra-sensitive detection, long coherences, and simple instrumentation.

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