Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Application Domains

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Participants : Bernard Bonnard, Alice Nolot, Jérémy Rouot, Joseph Gergaud, Olivier Cots [ENSEEIHT, Toulouse] , Stephen Glaser [TU München, Germany] , Dominique Sugny [Univ de Bourgogne] .

The starting point of our interest in optimal control for quantum systems was a collaboration with physicist from ICB, University of Burgundy (Dominique Sugny), motivated by an ANR project where we worked on the control of molecular orientation in a dissipative environment using a laser field, and developed optimal control tools, combined with numerical simulations, to analyze the problem for Qubits. This was related to quantum computing rather than MRI.

Using this expertise and under the impulse of Prof. S. Glaser and his group (Chemistry, TU München), we investigated Nuclear Magnetic resonance (NMR) for medical imaging (MRI), where the model is the Bloch equation describing the evolution of the Magnetization vector controlled by a magnetic field, but in fine is a specific Qubit model without decoherence. We worked on, and brought strong contributions to, the contrast problem: typically, given two chemical substances that have an importance in medicine, like oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood, find the (time-dependent) magnetic field that will produce the highest difference in brightness between these two species on the image resulting from Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. This has immediate and important industrial applications in medical imaging. Our contacts are with the above mentioned physics academic labs, who are themselves in contact with major companies.

The team has produced and is producing important work on this problem. One may find a good overview in [46], a reference book has been published on the topic  [50], a very complete numerical study comparing different optimization techniques was performed in [44]. We conduct this project in parallel with S. Glaser team, which validated experimentally the pertinence of the methods, the main achievement being the in vivo experiments realized at the Creatis team of Insa Lyon showing the interest to use optimal control methods implemented in modern softwares in MRI in order to produce a better image in a shorter time. A goal is to arrive to a cartography of the optimal contrast with respect to the relaxation parameters using LMI techniques and numerical simulations with the Hamapth and Bocop code; note that the theoretical study is connected to the problem of understanding the behavior of the extremal solutions of a controlled pair of Bloch equations, and this is an ambitious task. Also, one of the difficulties to go from the obtained results, checkable on experiments, to practical control laws for production is to deal with magnetic field space inhomogeneities and poorly known relaxation parameters.