Pulseq: A rapid and hardware-independent pulse sequence prototyping framework

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Abstract

Purpose:

Implementing new magnetic resonance experiments, or sequences, often involves extensive programming on vendor-specific platforms, which can be time consuming and costly. This situation is exacerbated when research sequences need to be implemented on several platforms simultaneously, for example, at different field strengths. This work presents an alternative programming environment that is hardware-independent, open-source, and promotes rapid sequence prototyping.

Methods:

A novel file format is described to efficiently store the hardware events and timing information required for an MR pulse sequence. Platform-dependent interpreter modules convert the file to appropriate instructions to run the sequence on MR hardware. Sequences can be designed in high-level languages, such as MATLAB, or with a graphical interface. Spin physics simulation tools are incorporated into the framework, allowing for comparison between real and virtual experiments.

Results:

Minimal effort is required to implement relatively advanced sequences using the tools provided. Sequences are executed on three different MR platforms, demonstrating the flexibility of the approach.

Conclusion:

A high-level, flexible and hardware-independent approach to sequence programming is ideal for the rapid development of new sequences. The framework is currently not suitable for large patient studies or routine scanning although this would be possible with deeper integration into existing workflows.

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