Purpose: To evaluate the performance of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) switches against PIN diodes for switching a dual-tuned RF coil between 19F and 1H resonant frequencies for multi-nuclear lung imaging.
Methods: A four-element fixed-phase and amplitude transmit–receive RF coil was constructed to provide homogeneous excitation across the lungs, and to serve as a test system for various switching methods. The MR imaging and RF performance of the coil when switched between the 19F and 1H frequencies using MEMS switches, PIN diodes and hardwired configurations were compared.
Results: The performance of the coil with MEMS or PIN diode switching was com- parable in terms of RF measurements, transmit efficiency and image SNR on both 19F and 1H nuclei. When the coil was not switched to the resonance frequency of the respective nucleus being imaged, reductions in the transmit efficiency were observed of 32% at the 19F frequency and 12% at the 1H frequency. The coil provides transmit field homogeneity of 612.9% at the 1H frequency and 614.4% at the 19F frequency in phantoms representing the thorax with the air space of the lungs filled with perfluoropropane gas.
Conclusion: MEMS and PIN diodes were found to provide comparable performance in on-state configuration, while MEMS were more robust in off-state high-powered operation (>1 kW), providing higher isolation and requiring a lower DC switching voltage than is needed for reverse biasing of PIN diodes. In addition, clear benefits of switching between the 19F and 1H resonances were demonstrated, despite the proxim- ity of their Larmor frequencies.