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PURPOSE: To develop switchable and tunable labels with high contrast ratio for MRI using magnetocaloric materials that have sharp first-order magnetic phase transitions at physiological temperatures and typical MRI magnetic field strengths.
METHODS: A prototypical magnetocaloric material iron-rhodium (FeRh) was prepared by melt mixing, high-temperature annealing, and ice-water quenching. Temperature- and magnetic field-dependent magnetization measurements of wire-cut FeRh samples were performed on a vibrating sample magnetometer. Temperature-dependent MRI of FeRh samples was performed on a 4.7T MRI.
RESULTS: Temperature-dependent MRI clearly demonstrated image contrast changes due to the sharp magnetic state transition of the FeRh samples in the MRI magnetic field (4.7T) and at a physiologically relevant temperature (~37°C).
CONCLUSION: A magnetocaloric material, FeRh, was demonstrated to act as a high contrast ratio switchable MRI contrast agent due to its sharp first-order magnetic phase transition in the DC magnetic field of MRI and at physiologically relevant temperatures. A wide range of magnetocaloric materials are available that can be tuned by materials science techniques to optimize their response under MRI-appropriate conditions and be controllably switched in situ with temperature, magnetic field, or a combination of both.