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Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is widely used in medicine, chemistry and industry. One application area is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Recently it has become possible to perform NMR and MRI in the ultra-low field (ULF) regime requiring measurement field strengths of the order of only 1 Gauss. This technique exploits the advantages offered by superconducting quantum interference devices or SQUIDs. Our group has built SQUID based MRI systems for brain imaging and for liquid explosives detection at airport security checkpoints. The requirement for liquid helium cooling limits potential applications of ULF MRI for liquid identification and security purposes. Our experimental comparative investigation shows that room temperature inductive magnetometers may provide enough sensitivity in the 3-10 kHz range and can be used for fast liquid explosives detection based on ULF NMR technique. We describe experimental and computer-simulation results comparing multichannel SQUID based and induction coils based instruments that are capable of performing ULF MRI for liquid identification.
Date of Publication: June 2011