Observation of restricted diffusion in the presence of a free diffusion compartment: Single- and double-PFG experiments

Noam Shemesh, Evren Özarslan, Amnon Bar-Shir, Peter J. Basser, Yoram Cohen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theoretical and experimental studies of restricted diffusion have been conducted for decades using single pulsed field gradient (s-PFG) diffusion experiments. In homogenous samples, the diffusion-diffraction phenomenon arising from a single population of diffusing species has been observed experimentally and predicted theoretically. In this study, we introduce a composite bi-compartmental model which superposes restricted diffusion in microcapillaries with free diffusion in an unconfined compartment, leading to fast and slow diffusing components in the NMR signal decay. Although simplified (no exchange), the superposed diffusion modes in this model may exhibit features seen in more complex porous materials and biological tissues. We find that at low q-values the freely diffusing component masks the restricted diffusion component, and that prolongation of the diffusion time shifts the transition from free to restricted profiles to lower q-values. The effect of increasing the volume fraction of freely diffusing water was also studied; we find that the transition in the signal decay from the free mode to the restricted mode occurs at higher q-values when the volume fraction of the freely diffusing water is increased. These findings were then applied to a phantom consisting of crossing fibers, which demonstrated the same qualitative trends in the signal decay. The angular d-PGSE experiment, which has been recently shown to be able to measure small compartmental dimensions even at low q-values, revealed that microscopic anisotropy is lost at low q-values where the fast diffusing component is prominent. Our findings may be of importance in studying realistic systems which exhibit compartmentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-225
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Crossing fibers
  • Diffusion
  • Double PGSE
  • Double-pulsed gradient spin echo
  • Fast
  • Low-q
  • NMR
  • PFG
  • PGSE
  • Pulsed field gradients
  • Slow diffusing
  • White matter phantom
  • d-PGSE


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