Longitudinal and transverse magnetization

Last revised by Jeremy Jones on 19 Sep 2021

Longitudinal magnetism and transverse magnetism are components of the net magnetism vector.

Longitudinal magnetism

Longitudinal magnetization is the component of the net magnetization vector parallel to the magnetic field (z-axis). This is due to a difference in the number of spins in parallel (low energy) and anti-parallel (high energy) state – i.e. before a radiofrequency pulse.

Transverse magnetization

Transverse magnetization is the component of the net magnetization vector perpendicular to the magnetic field (x-y plane). This is due to the spins of individual protons getting more or less into phase (coherence) – i.e. after a radiofrequency pulse.

Transverse vs longitudinal  

During excitation, the longitudinal magnetization decreases. After a 90-degree flip angle, the populations of the two spins states are identical. Therefore the longitudinal magnetization is null. Transverse magnetization appears due to phase coherence, except for a 180-degree flip angle.

It is worth noting that it is only the net magnetization vector that lies in the transverse plane, not the magnetic moments or the nuclei themselves. The magnetic moments of the nuclei only move in alignment with or against magnetic field strength (B0) – i.e. low or high energy state.

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