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Sensors (Basel). 2013 Nov 27;13(12):16245-62. doi: 10.3390/s131216245.

Software Defined Radio (SDR) and Direct Digital Synthesizer (DDS) for NMR/MRI instruments at low-field.

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Grenoble Electrical Engineering Lab (G2E-Lab), BP 46, Saint Martin d'Hères 38402, France.


A proof-of-concept of the use of a fully digital radiofrequency (RF) electronics for the design of dedicated Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) systems at low-field (0.1 T) is presented. This digital electronics is based on the use of three key elements: a Direct Digital Synthesizer (DDS) for pulse generation, a Software Defined Radio (SDR) for a digital receiving of NMR signals and a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) for system control and for the generation of the gradient signals (pulse programmer). The SDR includes a direct analog-to-digital conversion and a Digital Down Conversion (digital quadrature demodulation, decimation filtering, processing gain…). The various aspects of the concept and of the realization are addressed with some details. These include both hardware design and software considerations. One of the underlying ideas is to enable such NMR systems to "enjoy" from existing advanced technology that have been realized in other research areas, especially in telecommunication domain. Another goal is to make these systems easy to build and replicate so as to help research groups in realizing dedicated NMR desktops for a large palette of new applications. We also would like to give readers an idea of the current trends in this field. The performances of the developed electronics are discussed throughout the paper. First FID (Free Induction Decay) signals are also presented. Some development perspectives of our work in the area of low-field NMR/MRI will be finally addressed.

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