This thesis explores the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study acoustic oscillations of a gas in a cylindrical tube. It describes experiments performed under conditions where the gas is in the Acoustic Viscous Boundary Layer and its flow is laminar. Velocity maps acquired at discrete phases of the acoustic oscillation are presented, and are compared with thermoacoustic theory. This represents the first time that such information has been obtained using MRI. An important component of the work reported in this thesis involves the design, construction, and characterization of an acousto-mechanical resonator (AMR). This device can drive oscillatory gas motion and impose density variations at rates that are compatible with MRI data acquisition. To date it has been operated at frequencies ranging from 0.7 Hz to 1.65~Hz and with peak gas displacement amplitudes of up to 2.5~cm. The AMR is based on a modular design intended to permit the study of acoustic flow through a variety of different structures and under a variety of different conditions. MRI experiments were performed on a mixture of thermally-polarized 3He and O2. The latter is used to increase the 3He longitudinal nuclear relaxation rate 1/T1 to a value comparable to the acoustic frequency. In turn, measurements of 1/T1 provide a means for determining the precise composition of the gas mixture. Velocity phase-encoding techniques were then used to map acoustic flow fields: A bipolar magnetic field gradient pulse inserted into the imaging sequence stores velocity information in the phase of the complex image data. The MRI pulse sequence is synchronized with the periodic motion of the gas so that the velocity measurement can be performed at discrete and well-defined phases of the acoustic cycle. These non-invasive flow imaging experiments provide information that is complementary to that which can be obtained from other gas velocity probes, and may lead to new opportunities in the study of acoustic devices.
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Thesis advisor: Hayden, Michael
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