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The spin-lattice (T1) relaxation rates of materials depend on the strength of the external magnetic field in which the relaxation occurs. This T1 dispersion has been suggested to offer a means to discriminate between healthy and cancerous tissue by performing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at low magnetic fields. In prepolarized ultra-low-field (ULF) MRI, spin precession is detected in fields of the order of 10-100 μT. To increase the signal strength, the sample is first magnetized with a relatively strong polarizing field. Typically, the polarizing field is kept constant during the polarization period. However, in ULF MRI, the polarizing-field strength can be easily varied to produce a desired time course. This paper describes how a novel variation of the polarizing-field strength and duration can optimize the contrast between two types of tissue having different T1 relaxation dispersions. In addition, NMR experiments showing that the principle works in practice are presented. The described procedure may become a key component for a promising new approach of MRI at ultra-low fields
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