Imaging and sensing of pH and chemical state with nuclear-spin-correlated cascade gamma rays via radioactive tracer


Kenji Shimazoe, Mizuki Uenomachi, Hiroyuki Takahashi


Single-photon-emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron-emission tomography (PET) are highly sensitive molecular detection and imaging techniques that generally measure accumulation of radio-labeled molecules by detecting gamma rays. Quantum sensing of local molecular environment via spin, such as nitrogen vacancy (NV) centers, has also been reported. Here, we describe quantum sensing and imaging using nuclear-spin time-space correlated cascade gamma-rays via a radioactive tracer. Indium-111 (111In) is widely used in SPECT to detect accumulation using a single gamma-ray photon. The time-space distribution of two successive cascade gamma-rays emitted from an 111In atom carries significant information on the chemical and physical state surrounding molecules with double photon coincidence detection. We propose and demonstrate quantum sensing capability of local micro-environment (pH and chelating molecule) in solution along with radioactive tracer accumulation imaging, by using multiple gamma-rays time-and-energy detection. Local molecular environment is extracted through electric quadrupole hyperfine interaction in the intermediate nuclear spin state by the explicit distribution of sub-MeV gamma rays. This work demonstrates a proof of concept, and further work is necessary to increase the sensitivity of the technique for in vivo imaging and to study the effect of scattered radiation for possible application in nuclear medicine.

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