Background: The main advantage of ultra-high field (UHF) magnetic resonance neuroimaging is theincreased signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) compared with lower field strength imaging. However, the wavelength effect associated with UHF MRI results in radiofrequency (RF) inhomogeneity, compromising whole brain coverage for many commercial coils. Approaches to resolving this issue of transmit field inhomogeneity include the design of parallel transmit systems (PTx), RF pulse design, and applying passive RF shimming such as high dielectric materials. However, these methods have some drawbacks such as unstable material parameters of dielectric pads, high-cost, and complexity of PTx systems. Metasurfaces are artificial structures with a unique platform that can control the propagation of the electromagnetic (EM) waves, and they are very promising for engineering EM device. Implementation of meta-arrays enhancing MRI has been explored previously in several studies. Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the effect of new meta-array technology on enhancing the brain MRI at 7T. A meta-array based on a hybrid structure consisting of an array of broadside-coupled split-ring resonators and high-permittivity materials was designed to work at the Larmor frequency of a 7 Tesla (7T) MRI scanner. When placed behind the head and neck, this construct improves the SNR in the region of the cerebellum,brainstem and the inferior aspect of the temporal lobes. Methods: Numerical electromagnetic simulations were performed to optimize the meta-array design parameters and determine the RF circuit configuration. The resultant transmit-efficiency and signal sensitivity improvements were experimentally analyzed in phantoms followed by healthy volunteers using a 7T whole-body MRI scanner equipped with a standard one-channel transmit, 32-channel receive head coil. Efficacy was evaluated through acquisition with and without the meta-array using two basic sequences: gradient-recalled-echo (GRE) and turbo-spin-echo (TSE). Results: Experimental phantom analysis confirmed two-fold improvement in the transmit efficiency and 1.4-fold improvement in the signal sensitivity in the target region. In vivo GRE and TSE images with the meta-array in place showed enhanced visualization in inferior regions of the brain, especially of the cerebellum, brainstem, and cervical spinal cord. Conclusion: Addition of the meta-array to commonly used MRI coils can enhance SNR to extend the anatomical coverage of the coil and improve overall MRI coil performance. This enhancement in SNR can be leveraged to obtain a higher resolution image over the same time slot or faster acquisition can be achieved with same resolution. Using this technique could improve the performance of existing commercial coils at 7T for whole brain and other applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7606-7618
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • brain MRI
  • high-permittivity material
  • meta-array
  • radiofrequency
  • split-ring resonator
  • ultra-high-field


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