Assistant Professor of Physics
Long-Range Dipolar Fields as a Tool for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Microscopy
In his research, Carlos Meriles focuses on the development and application of new methods in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy and imaging. Under his CAREER award he is working on micro-scale NMR and MRI. His ultimate goal is to develop a technique which combines the strengths of MRI and scanning microscopy to obtain meaningful MRI images of single biological cells.
“NMR is unique in allowing the generation of images with various kinds of contrast and therefore different information content,” says Dr. Meriles. “However, the standard NMR signal is too weak for the high-resolution screening we need to efficiently probe samples of sub-microscopic dimensions. If we can address this issue, NMR can become a premier tool in cell microscopy.”
Dr. Meriles’s new approach lies in Dipolar Field Microscopy. This entails using a hyper-polarized semiconductor tip to interact with the sample. Dr. Meriles is developing highly sensitive optical methods which can be used to probe the tip and, indirectly, the sample, providing information on the state of the local magnetization. “By scanning this tip,” he explains, “we can reconstruct a map of the sample density or chemical composition with a resolution comparable to the size of the tip. If successful, this strategy could be very helpful because it maintains the well-known advantages of MRI to investigate biological matter without sacrificing spatial resolution.”
Dr. Meriles, who holds a Ph.D. in physics from FaMAF at the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba in Argentina and did his postdoctoral work at the University of California at Berkeley, was drawn to City College because of the research facilities it offered and the possibilities for collaboration. “Having the New York Structural Biology Center on campus was a big plus,” he says. “And, the College was instrumental in helping me acquire sophisticated equipment, so that I could mount a lab which is extremely competitive with those at other universities.”
Under his CAREER grant, Dr. Meriles is developing a new course on imaging methods for graduate students. He is also enhancing the science course he has designed for non-science undergraduates. In the course, which is offered in the CUNY Honors College, Dr. Meriles addresses major topics in physics, and his students research and make presentations on subjects chosen to provide a survey of the history of science. “My goal is for students to develop a grasp of how scientists reason and to put it all in historical perspective,” he says.