Spaghetti, soap, and brains: Magnetic resonance imaging studies of water transport in biomaterials

Talk by Daniel Topgaard (Lund University)


On 29 November 2019, Daniel Topgaard will give an introduction on magnetic resonance imaging as a noninvasive method for studying micrometer-scale self-diffusion and millimeter-scale transport of water in biomaterials, giving microscopic information about structures that are orders of magnitude smaller than the nominal spatial resolution of the actual images.

Adding or removing water from hygroscopic materials of biological origin are some of the main processes during activities like cooking pasta or turning a slurry of cellulose fibers into paper.

For biological tissues like the living brain, the water self-diffusion properties are used to infer cell densities, shapes, and orientations, and how these structural properties are modified during pathological conditions [1]. Magnetic resonance allows observation of how changing the water content affects the structures of swelling porous materials like cellulose fibers [2], leads to transitions between liquid crystalline phases in soap systems [3], and gives insights into why whole wheat pasta does not taste good [4].

Daniel Topgaard is professor at the Division of Physical Chemistry at Lund University. His main research projects are multidimensional difusion MRI and solid-state NMR methods for soft matter.


[1] Topgaard D. Multiple dimensions for random walks. J Magn Reson 2019;306:150-154.

[2] Topgaard D, Söderman O. Changes of cellulose fiber wall structure during drying investigated using NMR self-diffusion and relaxation experiments. Cellulose 2002;9:139-147.

[3] Bernin D, Koch V, Nydén M, Topgaard D. Multi-scale characterization of lyotropic liquid crystals using 2H and diffusion MRI with spatial resolution in three dimensions. PLOS ONE 2014;9:e98752.

[4] Steglich T, Bernin D, Moldin A, Topgaard D, Langton M. Bran particle size influence on pasta microstructure, water distribution and sensory properties. Cereal Chem 2015;92:617-623.