A miniature meanderline sensor coil which extends the capabilities of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to provide analysis of thin planar samples and surface layer geometries. The sensor coil allows standard NMR techniques to be used to examine thin planar (or curved) layers, extending NMRs utility to many problems of modern interest. This technique can be used to examine contact layers, non-destructively depth profile into films, or image multiple layers in a 3-dimensional sense. It lends itself to high resolution NMR techniques of magic angle spinning and thus can be used to examine the bonding and electronic structure in layered materials or to observe the chemistry associated with aging coatings. Coupling this sensor coil technology with an arrangement of small magnets will produce a penetrator probe for remote in-situ chemical analysis of groundwater or contaminant sediments. Alternatively, the sensor coil can be further miniaturized to provide sub-micron depth resolution within thin films or to orthoscopically examine living tissue. This thin-layer NMR technique using a stationary meanderline coil in a series-resonant circuit has been demonstrated and it has been determined that the flat meanderline geometry has about he same detection sensitivity as a solenoidal coil, but is specifically tailored to examine planar material layers, while avoiding signals from the bulk.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. AC04-94AL-85000 between the United States Department of Energy and the Sandia Corporation for operation of the Sandia National Laboratories.